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« May 2013 | Main | July 2013 »

June 29, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Finally, the Stanley Cup is back where it belongs: At a Rush concert.


Parade Shade









The Weekend Desk Tip Line: What would Stanley do?


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Rock journalists Josh Norek and Alejandro Franco are our guides to music south of the border as the Sound Opinions World Tour heads to Mexico."


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

"The Chicago Red Squad Files: Then and Now" Keynote By Richard Gutman


Chicago's Police Surveillance Unit monitored and infiltrated "subversive" organizations from the 1930s through the 1980s, building a trove of intelligence known as the "Red Squad Files." Attorney Richard Gutman, who helped lead the fight against the Red Squad, shares his experience and connects it to police practices today.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.


A Discussion About The Chicago Red Squad


The secret infiltration and monitoring of "subversive" groups by Chicago's Red Squad takes center stage as a panel including historians and members of organizations investigated by the group discuss its constitutionality and broader implications.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.


TnT's Arts 7 Entertainment: Reptile Fest 2013


Young hosts Timmy and Tony visit Reptile Fest 2013, the nation's largest educational reptile and amphibian show. Learn about alligators, crocodiles, and more.

Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV19.


Kids in Space


As part of the Chicago Opera Theater's "Opera for All" program, students grades 4-6 create and perform their own original opera.

Sunday at noon on CAN TV21.


Budgetary Power To The People


What happens when the people control the purse strings of government? This panel looks at the impact of participatory budgeting in wards across Chicago, which allows community members to vote on how to spend special "menu money" awarded to each ward.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.


Connecting Chicago to Palestine


Activists from Chicago and Palestine share their experiences working to promote social justice and prevent violence in their communities.

Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:20 AM | Permalink

June 28, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

So about today's Blackhawks parade and rally . . .





Seamless Transition I
"Northerly Island Is Ready For Jimmy Buffet Fans."

Seamless Transition II
"Bill Frees Wrigley Rooftops From Happy Hour Law."

Seamless Transition III


Impaired Vision
From a National Journal interview of Sen. Mark Kirk:

NJ: Has this experience changed how you see health care?

KIRK: My concern is what happens if you have a stroke and you're not in the U.S. Senate and you have no insurance and no income. That's the question that I have been asking, and the reality is that if you're on Illinois Medicaid and are a stroke survivor, you will get just five visits to the rehab specialist. That's it. Senator [Tim] Johnson [D-S.D.] and I are working on a stroke agenda.


So if you have a stroke and get cancer, only the stroke will be covered. Because that's what Kirk had.



NJ: You were in military intelligence. From what you know about these NSA programs, do you have real concerns?

KIRK: I do. It's bad intelligence work to be focusing in on 121 million Americans who aren't doing anything particularly terrorist-related.

NJ: Did the NSA go in this direction on its own, or was it just doing what Congress authorized?

KIRK: Just because you brief eight people in a windowless room doesn't mean that Congress supports you. Congress supports you through open debate and the involvement of the American people through the 24-hour news cycle.



NJ: How do you think Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is doing?

KIRK: Well. Really well. I've only known him since he was elected to the House. And I think he's doing a very good job.


So the mayor's Republican support is holding.


The NSA probably has information about you even if you aren't a target.

The Glory That Was Thillens Stadium
A Chicago ballpark that mattered.

Beachwood Photo Booth
Chicago Time.

Shame Every Rose
Images of Afghanistan.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Including: Cold Cave, Sons Of An Illustrious Father, Fendika, Lady Lamb The Beekeeper, and Non.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Rally.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

Shame Every Rose: Images of Afghanistan

Shame Every Rose: Images of Afghanistan, a photography exhibition currently on view at the Poetry Foundation gallery, 61 West Superior Street, displays the works of photographer and filmmaker Seamus Murphy and complements the June issue of Poetry magazine, "Landays."

A form of oral folk poetry, landays - the term references a short, poisonous snake - are composed by and circulated among Pashtun women. Dense with emotion, these short, couplet-style poems are featured in the June issue of Poetry alongside Murphy's images of Afghanistan.

"I wanted to shoot the drama, emotion, humor and darkness of their poetry," said Murphy about his photos and his short film, Snake.

Taken over a period of 18 years, the photographs in this exhibition are sequenced to suggest the form of a landay and are meant to be read (or viewed) from left to right. The exhibition is free and open to the public and will run until August 24th.

In 2008, Murphy published A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan, which focused on the turbulent life of the Afghan people since 1994.

His film of the same name was a 2012 Emmy Award nominee and received the 2012 Liberty in Media Prize, and his 2012 multimedia film Syrian Spring was nominated for a Prix Bayeux-Calvados for War Reporting.

Murphy's films include music videos for PJ Harvey, as well as an alternative view of the London Olympics for the New Yorker. In 2014, he will release a book of photographs focusing on the United States.


Previously: "My Body Belongs To Me; To Others Its Mastery."


Here's that PJ Harvey video:


Murphy's original pitch and trailer for A Darkness Visible:


From The Frontline Club in London:

"From 1994 to 2006, Seamus Murphy photographed the effects of the Taliban regime, the tumultuous years of civil war and the historical elections following the fall of the Taliban. Alongside scenes of war and politics, his magnificent photographs capture intimate images of domesticity, work and leisure."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Cold Cave at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.


2. Sons Of An Illustrious Father at Subterranean on Sunday night.


3. Fendika at the Hideout on Wednesday night.


4. Lady Lamb The Beekeeper at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.


5. Non at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

The Glory That Was Thillens Stadium

"It was the mecca of stadiums," said my boyhood friend Tim Russell.

No, he wasn't talking about the original Yankee Stadium or even old Comiskey. We were talking about Thillens Stadium at the corner of Devon and Kedzie, where the landmark baseball sign was recently removed.

As documented in the local media, the Thillens family, which gave up operation of the facility to the Park District eight years ago, severed all connection to the park when the rusting sign disappeared from the corner.

Apparently the Thillenses - they're the guys with the armored trucks who compete with Brinks to ferry cash from here to who knows where - have been annoyed because of the deteriorating condition of the hallowed ground bearing their name.

Unlike my pal Tim, I never played at Thillens, but I saw a number of Little League games there in the 1950s. And I never had to leave home to do it because WGN carried live Monday night telecasts of the games with none other than Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Brickhouse describing the action.

Maybe "action" is a mistaken term since my recollection is that most hitters either struck out or walked with a few hits sprinkled in between.

"It was a very exciting place to cover games and watch games," said Jack Rosenberg, WGN's sports editor from 1954 to 1994, when I phoned him. But televise Little League baseball? Who would possibly watch that?

"In those days we were willing to try anything because when I came to work up here in 1954 a lot of people still did not have television sets, so obviously there was no color, no videotape, no nothing," said Rosenberg. "It was a different day and age where we were willing to try anything and a lot of it worked. Some of it did not. But that's OK. We went back and tried again. And by the time I left 45 years later, we were all over the world."

My memories of those telecasts were of Brickhouse putting as much expertise and enthusiasm into a game of 10- and 11-year-olds as he did calling another Ernie Banks' round-tripper.

Imagine if the bosses today assigned Hawk Harrelson or Steve Stone to call a Little League game in a North Side neighborhood.

On second thought, they might see better baseball than is being played at either big league park in Chicago this summer.

"We thought nothing of that," said Rosenberg. "Why did Jack and I go to LaGrange every year and do the LaGrange Pet Parade? I still recall we were going to try to have President Kennedy on the Leadoff Man [the Cubs' pre-game show]. People said you've got to be kidding. But we did it. Years later Jack and I went to the White House to interview President Reagan. Here again no one thought this was doable. President Reagan, of course, had broadcast Cubs baseball as a young man in Des Moines, Iowa, on Western Union ticker tape. It was fantastic to be a part of it."

Probably the most notable accomplishment of televising Little League from Thillens - aside from actually doing it with a Hall of Fame broadcaster - was the advent of the center-field camera.

"A number of people had a hand in that," recalled Rosenberg, adding that no one individual can be credited with the idea. "I was not one of them. I was not on the technical side. It turned out to be something that is still used today."

In the '50s Thillens had a house league with six or eight teams complete with replica major league uniforms. These were the games that appeared on TV. In addition, there was a travel team of the best players.

My pal Tim, who grew up in Highwood, which also boasted a vigorous youth program created by iconic recreation director Don Skrinar, played in 64-team, end-of-the-year tournaments at Thillens featuring the top Little League teams in the area.

"The stadium itself I can remember certainly," Russell told me. "But I can remember more about some of the players that played on those teams. They had real authentic major league uniforms, [which were] quite amazing to see, and they were so good - the best players in the city."

Skrinar, a premier promoter credited with the invention of Little Guys basketball for kids under 5 feet, invited teams from Thillens to Highwood, no doubt expecting reciprocal invitations to play at Kedzie and Devon.

"Skrinar gets this idea to bring them up to Highwood on Friday nights against our All-Star team," said Russell. "Not their All-Star team, just one of their teams. The Thillens Cubs were legendary. When they came to Highwood, it was a revelation. They kicked our ass, they were so good."

As were many teams in the tournaments at Thillens in the mid-50s.

"We went up against this kid from Villa Park," Russell said. "We're on our way down there, and I'm crying about this kid because he throws so hard. He beat us 1-0. Skrinar had everybody bunt. Sometimes he told us to bat lefty and don't swing.

"The next year we're in the semi-finals, and here comes another kid from Arlington Heights. The kid threw bullets. We lost again 1-0."

Although almost 60 years have passed, the memories of specific players remain alive for Tim.

"The superior players wanted to play at Thillens," he said. "That was the place to play. Jim Woods played there and later played at Lane Tech. He went on to play third base for the Phillies."

Actually Woods signed with the Cubs before making brief appearances in 1960-61 for Philadelphia. Another Thillens product signed by the Cubs was Chris Barkulis who never made it to the majors but played six seasons in the team's minor league system. My friend Tim played in the City-Suburban All-Star game staged every year alternating between Wrigley and Comiskey featuring the area's best high school players.

"Barkulis hit one off the wall at Wrigley in that game in 1960," he said.

Then there was a Little Leaguer named Becker. "He was the only kid who had a nickname when he was 11," said Russell. "Shotgun Becker. He used to get his name in the paper a lot. He played for the Thillens Cubs. His real name was Bob."

Years have passed since the glory days of Thillens Stadium. I can't think of a comparable park in the city that does what Thillens did, but the suburbs are filled with facilities that are fancier, more expensive and fully-utilized. There's no reason to travel into the city today to compete on a stage like Thillens.

"It's a great part of our baseball history here in the Chicago area," said Jack Rosenberg.

Of course, he's correct on both counts. The Thillens we knew was a gem. And now it's gone, a piece of history.


Thillens sign.jpg


Comments welcome.


1. From Mark Schaeffer:

Sad about Thillens. I played there as a Little Leaguer, and many years later my kids played there as Little Leaguers. It was a special day when your local park league had "Thillens Day'' once every year. You felt as is you were playing in a major league park!

2. From John Powers:

I recently went by Thillens Stadium. Despite the loss of the sign, the stadium looks great, and was being used by young baseball players. The stands were pretty much full.

I don't know how you can write "The Thillens we knew was a gem. And now it's gone, a piece of history." The Thillens sponsorship is long gone, but the Stadium and its baseball operations appear to be doing just fine. If the Thillen family wanted to continue sponsorship, they should get their checkbook out and do just that.

ROGER WALLENSTEIN RESPONDS: He's right. The place is in good condition. But they're not about to put the games on TV.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time

Central Standard.

chicagotimehdretrsz.jpg 025.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)


You can buy it!

TITLE: "Chicago Time"

MEDIUM: photography, digital print

SIZE: 8x12 inches, rounded corners with white borders

PAPER: acid-free, Fuji archival paper

FINISH: glossy


All prints will be signed by the artist, Helene Smith. (Copyright, 2013)

Unmatted, unframed.

This print is available in other sizes (including photo card) by request.

Your print will be shipped in a protective, sturdy mailer.

All items are shipped via First Class USPS, within the United States, though I ship internationally, as well. Please see the Shipping Section on my Policy Page for more details.

Please, allow up to 2 weeks for processing your order (though it will often arrive earlier!). I generally process each print when the customer places the order, although I do have a few prints on hand and will ship sooner if your photo is in stock. If you are in a rush, let me know and I will try to accommodate you.


Purchase through Etsy.


* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster


More Chicago photos from Helene Smith on Etsy.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:42 AM | Permalink

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

There have been a lot of news stories about NSA surveillance programs following the leaks of secret documents by Edward Snowden. But it seems the more we read, the less clear things are. We've put together a detailed snapshot of what's known and what's been reported where.

What information does the NSA collect and how?

We don't know all of the different types of information the NSA collects, but several secret collection programs have been revealed:

A record of most calls made in the U.S., including the telephone number of the phones making and receiving the call, and how long the call lasted. This information is known as "metadata" and doesn't include a recording of the actual call (but see below). This program was revealed through a leaked secret court order instructing Verizon to turn over all such information on a daily basis. Other phone companies, including several billion calls per day.

E-mail, Facebook posts and instant messages for an unknown number of people, via PRISM, which involves the cooperation of at least nine different technology companies. Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others have denied that the NSA has "direct access" to their servers, saying they only release user information in response to a court order. Facebook has revealed that, in the last six months of 2012, they handed over the private data of between 18,000 and 19,000 users to law enforcement of all types - including local police and federal agencies, such as the FBI, federal marshals and the NSA.

Massive amounts of raw Internet traffic. Much of the world's Internet traffic passes through the U.S. even when the sender and receiver are both outside the country. A recently revealed presentation slide notes the U.S.'s central role in internet traffic and suggests domestic taps can be used to monitor foreign targets. A whistleblower claimed that he helped install a network tap in an AT&T facility in San Francisco on NSA orders in 2003. The tap sent the entire contents of high-capacity fiber-optic cables into a secret room filled with monitoring equipment. An unknown fraction of the intercepted data is stored in massive databases in case it is useful in the future.

Because there is no automatic way to separate domestic from international communications, this program also captures U.S. citizens' internet activity, such as e-mails, social media posts, instant messages, the sites you visit and online purchases you make.

The contents of an unknown number of phone calls. The details are sketchy, but there are several reports that the NSA records the audio contents of some phone calls. This reportedly happens "on a much smaller scale" than the programs above, after analysts select specific people as "targets." There does not seem to be any public information about the collection of text messages, which would be much more practical to collect in bulk because of their smaller size.

The NSA has been prohibited from recording domestic communications since the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act but at least two of these programs - phone records collection and Internet cable taps - involve huge volumes of Americans' data.

Does the NSA record everything about everyone, all the time?

No. The NSA routinely obtains and stores as much as it can of certain types of information, such as the metadata from telephone calls made in the U.S. (but not their content) and some fraction of the massive amount of raw data flowing through major internet cables. It is also possible for the NSA to collect more detailed information on specific people, such as the actual audio of phone calls and the entire content of e-mail accounts. NSA analysts can submit a request to obtain these types of more detailed information about specific people.

Watching a specific person like this is called "targeting" by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law which authorizes this type of individual surveillance. The NSA is allowed to record the conversations of non-Americans without a specific warrant for each person monitored, if at least one end of the conversation is outside of the U.S. It is also allowed to record the communications of Americans if they are outside the U.S. and the NSA first gets a warrant for each case. It's not known exactly how many people the NSA is currently targeting.

How the NSA actually gets the data depends on the type of information requested. If the analyst wants someone's private e-mails or social media posts, the NSA must request that specific data from companies such as Google and Facebook. For information that is already flowing through internet cables that the NSA is monitoring, or the audio of phone calls, a targeting request instructs automatic systems to watch for the communications of a specific person and save them.

It's important to note that the NSA probably has information about you even if you aren't on this target list. If you have previously communicated with someone who has been targeted, then the NSA already has the content of any e-mails, instant messages, phone calls, etc. you exchanged with the targeted person. Also, your data is likely in bulk records such as phone metadata and internet traffic recordings. This is what makes these programs "mass surveillance," as opposed to traditional wiretaps, which are authorized by individual, specific court orders.

What does phone call metadata information reveal, if it doesn't include the content of the calls?

Even without the content of all your conversations and text messages, so-called "metadata" can reveal a tremendous amount about you. If they have your metadata, the NSA would have a record of your entire address book, or at least every person you've called in the last several years. They can guess who you are close to by how often you call someone, and when. By correlating the information from multiple people, they can do sophisticated "network analysis" of communities of many different kinds, personal or professional - or criminal.

Phone company call records reveal where you were at the time that a call was made, because they include the identifier of the radio tower that transmitted the call to you. The government has denied that it collects this information, but former NSA employee Thomas Drake said they do. For a sense of just how powerful location data can be, see this visualization following a German politician everywhere he goes for months, based on his cellphone's location information.

The type of data can be used to discover the structure of groups planning terrorism. But metadata is a sensitive topic because there is great potential for abuse. While no one has claimed the NSA is doing this, it would be possible to use metadata to algorithmically identify, with some accuracy, members of other types of groups like the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street, gun owners, undocumented immigrants, etc. An expert in network analysis could start with all of the calls made from the time and place of a protest, and trace the networks of associations out from there.

Phone metadata is also not "anonymous" in any real sense. The NSA already maintains a database of the phone numbers of all Americans for use in determining whether someone is a "U.S. person" (see below), and there are several commercial number-to-name services in any case. Phone records become even more powerful when they are correlated with other types of data, such as social media posts, local police records and credit card purchase information, a process known as intelligence fusion.

Does the NSA need an individualized warrant to listen to my calls or look at my e-mails?

It's complicated, but not in all cases. Leaked court orders set out the "minimization" procedures that govern what the NSA can do with the domestic information it has intercepted. The NSA is allowed to store this domestic information because of the technical difficulties in separating foreign from domestic communications when large amounts of data are being captured.

These documents show that individual intelligence analysts make the decision to look at previously collected bulk information. The analyst must document why they believe the information belongs to someone who is not a "U.S. person" (roughly, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident) but they do not need to ask anyone's permission before looking at intercepted information or asking for additional information to be collected. If the analyst later discovers that they are looking at the communications of a U.S. person, they must destroy the data.

However, if the intercepted information is "reasonably believed to contain evidence of a crime" then the NSA is allowed to turn it over to federal law enforcement. Unless there are other (still secret) restrictions on how the NSA can use this data this means the police might end up with your private communications without ever having to get approval from a judge, effectively circumventing the whole notion of probable cause.

This is significant because it is not always possible to determine whether someone is a U.S. person before looking at their data. For example, it's not usually possible to tell just from someone's e-mail address, which is why the NSA maintains a database of known U.S. e-mail addresses and phone numbers. If the NSA does not have "specific information" about someone, that person is "presumed to be a non-United States person."

Also, the NSA is allowed to provide any of its recorded information to the FBI, if the FBI specifically asks for it.

Is all of this legal?

Yes, assuming the NSA adheres to the restrictions set out in recently leaked court orders. By definition, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decides what it is legal for the NSA to do.

But this level of domestic surveillance wasn't always legal, and the NSA has been found to violate legal standards on more than one occasion. Although the NSA's broad data collection programs appear to have started shortly after September 11, 2001, the NSA was gradually granted authority to collect domestic information on this scale through a series of legislative changes and court decisions over the next decade. See this timeline of loosening laws. The Director of National Intelligence says that authority for PRISM programs comes from section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Verizon metadata collection order cites section 215 of the Patriot Act. The author of the Patriot Act disagrees that it justifies the Verizon metadata collection program.

In March 2004, acting Attorney General James Comey ordered a stop to some parts of the secret domestic surveillance programs, but President Bush signed an order re-authorizing it anyway. In response, several top Justice Department officials threatened to resign, including Comey and FBI director Robert Mueller. Bush backed down, and the programs were at least partially suspended for several months.

In 2009, the Justice Department acknowledged that the NSA had collected e-mails and phone calls of Americans in a way that exceeded legal limitations.

In October 2011, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled that the NSA violated the Fourth Amendment at least once. The Justice Department has said that this ruling must remain secret, but we know it concerned some aspect of the "minimization" rules the govern what the NSA can do with domestic communications. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court recently decided that this ruling can be released, but the Justice Department has not yet done so.

Civil liberties groups including the EFF and the ACLU dispute the constitutionality of these programs and have filed lawsuits to challenge them.

How long can the NSA keep information on Americans?

The NSA can generally keep intercepted domestic communications for up to five years. It can keep them indefinitely under certain circumstances, such as when the communication contains evidence of a crime or when it's "foreign intelligence information," a broad legal term that includes anything relevant to "the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States." It can also keep encrypted communications indefinitely.

Does the NSA do anything to protect Americans' privacy?

Yes. First, the NSA is only allowed to intercept communications if at least one end of the conversation is outside of the U.S. - though it doesn't have to distinguish domestic from foreign communication until the "earliest practicable point" which allows the NSA to record bulk information from internet cables and sort it out later. When the NSA discovers that previously intercepted information belongs to an American, it must usually destroy that information. Because this determination cannot always be made by computer, this sometimes happens only after a human analyst has already looked at it.

The NSA also must apply certain safeguards. For example, the NSA must withhold the names of U.S. persons who are not relevant to ongoing investigations when they distribute information - unless that person's communications contain evidence of a crime or are relevant to a range of national security and foreign intelligence concerns.

Also, analysts must document why they believe someone is outside of the U.S. when they ask for addition information to be collected on that person. An unknown number of these cases are audited internally. If the NSA makes a mistake and discovers that it has targeted someone inside the U.S., it has five days to submit a report to the Department of Justice and other authorities.

What if I'm not an American?

All bets are off. There do not appear to be any legal restrictions on what the NSA can do with the communications of non-U.S. persons. Since a substantial fraction of the world's internet data passes through the United States, or its allies, the U.S. has the ability to observe and record the communications of much of the world's population. The European Union has already complained to the U.S. Attorney General.

The U.S. is hardly the only country doing mass surveillance, though its program is very large. GCHQ, which is the British counterpart to the NSA, has a similar surveillance program and shares data with the NSA. Many countries now have some sort of mass internet surveillance now in place. Although passive surveillance is often hard to detect, more aggressive governments use intercepted information to intimidate or control their citizens, including Syria, Iran, Egypt, Bahrain and China. Much of the required equipment is sold to these governments by American companies.


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

* Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11

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

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

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency

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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:35 AM | Permalink

June 27, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"The Better Government Association on Wednesday threw its support behind a proposed ordinance that would provide closer oversight of city privatization deals, hoping to help free it from committee," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) proposed the ordinance last November. Calling it 'a simple, sensible idea,' Sawyer said Wednesday it would simply call for City Council oversight of any deal privatizing city property or services.

"'Here we are, seven months later, and we still cannot get this initiative out of the Rules Committee,' Sawyer said. 'I think that's wrong.'"

Even more so given that the ordinance is co-sponsored by 32 aldermen - meaning it would pass the council if brought up for a vote.

So what's the problem?

"Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), chairman of the committee, did not reply to requests for comment."

Mell, of course, is doing Rahm's bidding.

In other words, when does the will of a single person without a vote in the matter overrule the will of 32 elected officials who do have votes? When you're in Chicago.


"Mell held a perfunctory, minute-long meeting of the Rules Committee before Wednesday's City Council session, then left the Council Chamber abruptly after the meeting proper."




Mission accomplished.

More Rahm Rule
"Some aldermen trying to opt out of free parking at metered spaces on Sundays under the recently renegotiated meter lease deal say they are getting the runaround from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office," the Expired Meter reports.

"During hearings on the revised parking meter lease deal several weeks ago, Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton assured aldermen that if they wanted to keep paid parking on Sundays in their wards to control business traffic they would have the support of Emanuel.

"But now, several aldermen are seeing resistance from a mayor's office which seems to want to control the process of which wards are allowed to keep paid parking on Sundays, they say."

Pat Quinn, The Bizarro Rahm
"The leader of the conference committee on Illinois pensions - which meets for the first time today - is already saying there's no deadline," the Illinois Radio Network reports.

"State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), chairman of a pension conference committee, says the governor has no business setting a July 9 deadline for final action if he is not going to be part of the solution.

"If the Governor has a solution that he believes absolutely can get done in two weeks, we have a hearing. The Governor is welcome to come and suggest exactly what he thinks he can get the requisite votes for."

The Chicago, Illinois Way: Unchecked and unbalanced.

Reversal Of Fortune
Now Illinois knows how poor people feel.

Pabst Blue Starbucks
"This fall, Starbucks will expand its Starbucks Evenings concept - coffeehouses that offer beer and wine," Shanken News Daily reports.

"Additional Evenings venues will be launched in southern California, Atlanta, Chicago and the Pacific Northwest."

Great. Now yipsters will be ordering Venti PBRs with foamy heads.


Speaking of bad combinations, who's ordering drinks at Applebee's and IHOP anyway? In our Random Food Report.

Fabrication Station
"Next month, the Chicago Public Library will open the city's first free 'maker space' on the third floor of Harold Washington Library in the Loop," Crain's reports.

"The pop-up fabrication lab will offer the public access to 3D printers, laser cutters, a milling machine and a vinyl cutter as well as a variety of supporting design software."


I'm thinking of making a city council.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Now in 3D.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Adam's McRib And Allah

1. A Class Without Class.

"For customers who've gone to Applebee's or IHOP lately and wondered just how much it cost to get tipsy, a class action pending in federal court in New Jersey could force the restaurants to cough up that information," reports.

But you'd have to admit that you not only went to an Applebee's or IHOP, but actually ordered a drink there.

2. That's Okay, Allah Did Not Make Eve From Adam's McRib Anyway.

"The search for food prepared according to Islamic law at fast-food restaurant chains just got a little trickier," AP reports.

"On Monday, McDonald's announced that its locations in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Mich., would stop serving halal food, which requires animals to be slaughtered according to Islamic practices and excludes prohibited items such as pork. The franchisees were the only two in the country to serve halal food.

"The move comes several weeks after a $700,000 settlement between McDonald's and a customer who filed a lawsuit in 2011 that alleged the menu items weren't consistently halal."

3. Coke Served In Bottles Made Of Ice.


4. Dunkin' Donuts Is Blowing It.

Our instincts (see item No. 2) were correct: our favorite donut-and-coffee chain is ruining a good thing because some corporate executive wants to make a mark. Of course, making a mark usually means you've hurt someone.

The latest, from AP:

Don't expect to see Dunkin' Donuts revive its famous "Time to make the doughnuts" ad campaign anytime soon.

Paul Carbone, chief financial officer for Dunkin' Brands Group Inc., said at the Jefferies Global Consumer Conference Tuesday that the company gets asked all the time when it's going to bring back the ad starring the perpetually tired baker who gets up early every morning to make doughnuts.

"He's not coming back," Carbone said, noting that the chain's focus has shifted toward beverages, which are the "holy grail" when it comes to profitability. Hence the company's plans to stand by its "America Runs on Dunkin'" motto, which was launched in 2006.

In recent years, however, the chain has also been expanding its breakfast sandwiches, which Carbone said are "right below the beverages" in terms of profitability.

Dunkin', which has more than 7,300 U.S. locations, said in a recent presentation that both breakfast sandwiches and drinks have profit margins of more than 75 percent; the presentation didn't include the margins for doughnuts.

While we here at the Random Food Report desk have always loved Dunkin's coffee, it's a mistake to forget that it's a donut shop. The beauty of the coffee? Tastes like liquid donuts.

Nobody knows how to protect a brand anymore.

5. Harold And The Purple Chicken.

"Despite being a brand name that verges on the institutional, grease is just about the only thing that binds Chicago's 38 Harold's Chicken Shacks together," the Sun-Times reports.

"Thanks to the laissez-faire licensing model adopted by founder Harold Pierce, all but three restaurants are tied to the corporate Harold's in name, logo and recipe only - leaving those who run the brand with little recourse to force restaurants to modernize or change.

"The consequence: an erratic confederation of restaurants. Prices vary by location, as do menus, decor and chicken suppliers."

No wonder the Harold's in Wicker Park sucks so bad.

But the new strategy is double-edged: Yipsters blindly accept Harold's as great just because it's Harold's. So why force expensive quality control on franchises whose new customer base has no taste to begin with?

6. Managing Perfection.

Speaking of protecting the brand, Watermelon Oreos is not the way to do it.

7. Food Engineers At Work.

"Like a pair of pre-ripped jeans from Abercrombie or a distressed logo tee from Zazzle, America's food conglomerates are embracing a more easy breezy natural look when it comes to your food," Gawker notes.

"And as expected, making processed food seem unprocessed involves more processing.

"Responding to American's growing concern over over-processed food, engineers for Kraft, Wendy's, McDonald's Domino's and others are now increasingly attempting to give their products a homemade and real appearance."

8. Friendly's Is A Dumb Name Anyway.

"Joseph Gibson figured, of all places, he'd get treated with respect at a St. Louis establishment called Friendly's Sports Bar & Grill," Gawker notes.

"But his Father's Day outing was thoroughly ruined when he received the bill for his meal, only to find he had seemingly been charged for having 'fuckin' needy kids.'"

9. Little Chicago.

"A Chicago-style restaurant will open on the south side later this summer after receiving permission from the city's Plan Commission on Tuesday," the Sheboygan Press in Wisconsin reports.

"Pete's Little Chicago Restaurant will replace the former Osteria Nonna Maria at 1402 S. Eighth St. and will serve deep dish pizza, hot dogs, burgers and other items, owner Chris Balassi said."

10. Fast Freddy's.

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburger only has two Illinois locations - Mattoon and Springfield. But it's exporting its Chicago hot dog nearly nationwide.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

June 26, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing an increase city fines for gun offenses in and around schools and in 'safe passage zones' in neighborhoods near schools," the Tribune reports.

"The ordinance, which will be introduced today to the City Council, would raise penalties for certain gun offenses near schools to $1,000 to $5,000 and 30 days in jail for a first offense, $5,000 to $15,000 and 90 days to six months in jail for a second offense, and $10,000 to $20,000 and at least six months in jail for a third offense."

Why not just cover the whole city with these penalties? And raise them all by $10,000? And even longer jail time? In other words, why not max out?

Perhaps because then the mayor couldn't propose new tough gun laws every year.


"There already are fines and other penalties on the books for these crimes, according to Ald. Walter Burnett Jr., 27th, one of the sponsors of the measure, but he did not have specifics on what the current statute reads."

The sponsoring alderman doesn't even now what the current statute calls for; he just knows what Rahm called him for.


"Spokesmen for the Chicago Police Department and the Emanuel administration did not immediately respond to requests for information about how often current city school gun laws are enforced."

Or, to put it another way, neither the mayor's office nor the police department would answer questions about how and why the proposed ordinance would be any more effective than the current ordinance.


"Burnett said he thinks gang members and other criminals will consider tougher fines when they think about committing gun crimes around schools."

Right. Because "gang members and other criminals" (memo to Burnett and the Tribune: It's not a crime to be in a gang) typically go through a reasoned cost-benefit analysis before firing a weapon. And god knows gangs are short of cash these days.

Rahm's Excuses
Too busy meeting with rich white guys.



And if Rahm was counting on the legislature passing a pension reform bill without a backup plan he might as well have been wishing on unicorns willing to teach for free to take over the CTU and solve the CPS's budget problems.


Rahm Emanuel: The Buck Stops There.

History's Judgement
"On a warm, sunny Tuesday afternoon last week, students attended one of the final events held at Horatio May Community Elementary Academy before the school closed for the summer - and for good," AustinTalks reports.

"To commemorate their time at the school - one of four in Austin that CPS is shutting this month - students, staff and faculty collected items to bury inside a time capsule beside the school's playground."

Among the rumored items:

* An Econ 101 book signed by Henry Bienen.

* Calendars showing where everyone's been addressed to Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

* A map of Mahalia Hines's exit route.

* A bag of peanuts signed by David Vitale.

* Andrea Zopp's guide to a spa weekend.

* A guide to Chicago's charter schools signed by Jesse Ruiz.

* A rubber stamp donated by Carlos Azcoitia.

Not Charter Enough
"Chicago Talent Development, a charter based on an education model developed at Johns Hopkins University, will shut down next year because of budget problems," Catalyst reports.

"The school never received some of the hefty sums provided to other start-ups by pro-charter foundations because it is unionized."

Analog Kids
Here's an example of a story that really only needs a date, place and time. The rest is malarkey.

Dear Chicago: Please ID This Bromonster
Let us shame him mercilessly.

NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help Our Adversaries
"Neither a confirmation nor a denial that the agency has my metadata."

Fantasy Fix: Movers And Shakers
Cubs, Sox.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Moving, shaking.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 PM | Permalink

Dear Chicago: Please Identify This Bromonster And Shame Him Mercilessly

News organizations who send reporters to do stand-ups at bars or other locations where fans drunken or not are celebrating a sports victory tend to get what they deserve, which is ridiculous nonsense that is in no way news. But that doesn't exonerate douchebaggery, no matter how enabled it is. So let's identify the dude with the tongue and submit him to all form of interrogation in the public square. Perhaps if we learn more, we can stomp out his kind and make the world just a little bit of a better place.


(via Deadspin via Guyism via Jeremy Cielocha.)


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:24 AM | Permalink

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

Shortly after the Guardian and Washington Post published their Verizon and PRISM stories, I filed a Freedom of Information request with the NSA seeking any personal data the agency has about me.

I didn't expect an answer, but on Monday I received a letter signed by Pamela Phillips, the chief FOIA officer at the agency (which really freaked out my wife when she picked up our mail).

The letter, a denial, includes what is known as a Glomar response - neither a confirmation nor a denial that the agency has my metadata.

It also warns that any response would help "our adversaries:"

Any positive or negative response on a request-by-request basis would allow our adversaries to accumulate information and draw conclusions about the NSA's technical capabilities, sources, and methods.

Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs.

Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries' compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.

The letter helpfully states that there are "no assessable fees for the request."

It also contains a paragraph about the ways in which the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has authorized the NSA to "acquire telephone metadata, such as the telephone numbers dialed and length of calls, but not the content of [sic] call or the names of the communicants."

The court was created in 1978, as we recently laid out in our surveillance timeline.

The letter also mentions section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the government has cited to justify phone metadata collection.

So where does this leave me?

According to Aaron Mackey, a staff attorney at the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, "If you wanted to see those records you would have to file a lawsuit."

I reached out the NSA, to ask among other things, how many other requests about metadata they've received. They didn't immediately respond.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:41 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Movers And Shakers

The MLB trade deadline is a little over a month away, so it's time to start thinking about whether some of your fantasy players will find new homes in the real world, and how that will affect their value.

Here are a few names generating trade buzz, and what could change if the deals get done:

Matt Garza: Garza has been pretty good since returning from the disabled list, which on the Cubs makes him a marked man. His ERA is 4.35, but his WHIP is a much more respectable 1.13, which could take him far in Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco, teams reportedly looking for pitching. His fantasy stock may rise accordingly.

Alex Rios: Rios is quietly having another strong season and continues to be a multi-category fantasy contributor. He has been mentioned as potentially headed for Cincinnati, which would be great for his fantasy value, in particular his HRs and OPS, or San Francisco, which might put a slight damper on his HR numbers, though he could continue to rack up doubles.

Ricky Nolasco: The NL West in general is a likely destination for traded pitchers this season. Every park except Colorado's is a pitcher's delight, but Nolasco, a ground-ball specialist, might succeed even there. Nolasco is still available is more than 75% of Yahoo! leagues, and as he's a virtual lock to be traded, would make a great second-half waiver wire bet.

Giancarlo Stanton: If you're leaving Miami, your lot can only improve. Stanton figures to pick up a lot of RBI wherever he lands. The worst thing for him and his fantasy owners would be for Miami to commit to building around him for the future.

Jonathan Papelbon: He was having a great season until about a week ago, having blown three saves on a row. He may still be on the move to a much better team, meaning more save chances, but you have to wonder if there is reason to be concerned overall about his fantasy numbers if the poor outings continue.

Yovani Gallardo: Gallardo has been mentioned as a trade possibility for weeks, though Garza and Nolasco are generating much more buzz. Gallardo has six wins, but a 4.09 ERA, and he is a little off his usual strikeout pace. If he stays in Milwaukee, you might consider dropping him unless his ERA and strikeouts improve.

Expert Wire
* speculates on the potential for Yu Darvish to rack up 300 strikeouts, which might make him the No. 1 fantasy pitcher this season regardless of his other numbers.

* Bleacher Report eyes players set for second-half breakouts.

* Crave Online says just-called-up Twins prospect Kyle Gibson could be the next rookie to make an impression.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 AM | Permalink

June 25, 2013

Tweeting The Cup: Blackhawks & Bros

And broadcast buffoons.


















Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:12 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"The Detroit Red Wings regularly draw criticism for having more skill than size or toughness, which is why the Chicago Blackhawks' championship Monday night should be viewed as immensely positive," Helene St. James writes for the Detroit Free Press.

"The Blackhawks embody skill, top to bottom. Like the Wings with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, they are headlined up front by a pair of superbly talented players in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Chicago's defense is anchored by Duncan Keith, whose style is in the mold of Nicklas Lidstrom.

"Right on down through the fourth line - populated by the likes of Andrew Shaw, Michael Frolik, Marcus Kruger and Viktor Stalberg - the Blackhawks fielded players who belong in the NHL, not bubble players doing little but killing time while the top lines get some rest.

"The Blackhawks' run - which also included dispatching the big Los Angeles Kings - is good for hockey."


Agreed. When I grew up as a diehard North Stars fan in Minnesota, the Blackhawks were a goon squad. Unfortunately, the North Stars were also soft.

These Blackhawks are both highly skilled, fast as hell and tough enough. They're a joy to watch.


Toronto likes the Blackhawks too.


Did Custom Camaro Herald Blackhawks' Stanley Cup Victory?


Mmm, Camaro . . .

My first car, which I bought when I was in high school, was a used 1975 Camaro. Official color: North Star Green. I also worked for the North Stars at the time. (Pure coincidence.)


The Blackhawks are an early favorite to return to the Stanley Cup Finals - but not to win.


"When he went down, we were a little concerned, because he never goes down," said Darlene Shaw, mother of Andrew. "But he came back."


"The Chicago Blackhawks pulled off perhaps the most improbable comeback in the history of the Stanley Cup finals on Monday night," Jeff Z. Klein writes for the New York Times.

Klein has been one of the best chroniclers of the playoffs, so you might want to click through for the rest of his report.


"For the second year in a row, Dave Bolland, who was born and raised in Mimico, attending. St. Leo's Catholic elementary school and then on to Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School, will be running a summer hockey camp at the MasterCard Centre in south Etobicoke," the Guardian of the Etobicoke section of Toronto reports.

"This year, he might want to add a session on how to score a Stanely Cup winning goal.

"Many dream of it, and Bolland became one of the very few to do it when he scored the game and Stanley Cup clincher in the last minute of play on Monday, June 24, leading the Chicago Blackhawks to a thrilling 3-2 game-six win over the host Boston Bruins.

"Bolland's goal with 59 seconds left completed a remarkable comeback for Chicago who had tied the game up just 17 seconds earlier on a goal by Bryan Bickell.

"Bolland's goal was a case of being Johnny-on-the-spot. The puck had hit the post, bouncing lazily back into the crease, behind the Boston goaltender, and Bolland seized the opportunity, quickly whacking it into the gaping net.

"I think (my eyes) were huge," said Bolland in a post-game interview on "They almost popped out of my head."

"It is the only Cup-clinching goal ever scored in the 60th minute."


Spoiler Alert: Belushi vs. Rahm.


"As you know by now, the Blackhawks pulled off a stunning comeback by scoring two goals in a 17-second span to finish off the Bruins last night. The postgame celebration was dominated by Duncan Keith's adorable son, who didn't seemed pleased that his mom and dad tried to stuff him into the Stanley Cup."


How Cool Was That?


Blackhawks TV.


Tweeting The Bros, Blackhawks & Broadcasts.


Beware A Blackhawks News Dump.


The Beachwood Tip LIne: Antidotal.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:57 AM | Permalink

Beware A Blackhawks News Dump

Read my mind.

The parade is scheduled for Friday, too, which makes it a perfect time to quietly release news such as:

* Rahm Closes The Rest Of The City's Public Schools. The Blackhawks prove that privatization works, even though the NHL, like all of America's professional sports leagues, is a socialist organization. Plus, the players are unionized, but Rahm never lets the facts get in the way of a good crisis-related policy of convenience.

* Michael Madigan Solves The State's Pension Problem. Unlike the deal Blackhawks players and the rest of the league got from the lockout, Madigan will simply enact a lockout. Pat Quinn goes along with it because teamwork.

* Lisa Madigan Announces Exploratory Committee To Look At Run For Governor. The first of a best of seven-part process.

* City Must Reimburse Parking Meter Overlords During Parade For Spots Taken Out Of Commission. This is actually true, though the city will likely just hold a celebration in Grant Park instead of an actual parade.

* All Pending TIF Redistributions From Chicago's Schools To Rahm's Wealthy Benefactors Will Be Mentioned At The Very End Of Proclamation Declaring Friday "Blackhawks Day" In Chicago. That way, if you don't like TIF redistributions to Rahm's wealthy benefactors, you don't like the Blackhawks.

* Red-Light Cameras Will Now Be Black-And-Red-Light Cameras. Cute. But who gets the new contract?

* New Taxpayer-Subsidized DePaul Hockey Arena To Be Built Next To New Taxpayer-Subsidized DePaul Basketball Arena. Taxpayers will also subsidize creation of a DePaul hockey team. Because Blackhawks.

* The Screw Will Be Reborn As The Hockey Stick. This would actually be really cool, so I don't know why it would be buried except that TIF money would probably be involved.

* City's Remaining Mental Health Clinics To Be Closed. "It's your choice - you can always just watch the Blackhawks if you're feeling down."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

Blackhawks TV

1. Inside The Locker Room.


2. Fucking Diehard.


3. Kissing Kaner.


4. The Cup Arrives At O'Hare.


5. The Bus Unloads At Harry Caray's In Rosemont.



6. Bro-ville.


7. Pelting Police And Their Horses.


8. Resisting Arrest.


9. Gross On Multiple Levels.


10. Toews Busts A Move.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: How Cool Was That?

And then Dave Bolland brought out the beer.

At this point he was a king in his castle. The man nicknamed "The Rat" had come through what was for him an up and down series that most would have readily acknowledged was more down than up.

Bolland had struggled to match up with Boston's best, piling up more penalties than points. The man who had spent plenty of time during the last several seasons centering leading lines with wingers like Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp found himself demoted to the Hawks' third if not fourth group of forwards on Monday night.

But when it mattered most, he scored a historic goal, capping off the Hawks' miracle comeback by knocking in a rebound with a little less than a minute left in regulation to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.


He did so just 17 seconds after Bryan Bickell had tied the game after perfect feeds from Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews.

Soon the game was over, the celebration ensued and after spending plenty of time on the ice with the Cup and family and friends and did we mention the Cup!, the Hawks finally adjourned to their locker room.

It seemed as if the party was winding down for everyone who didn't go with them. But literally 10 minutes later, there were a few Hawks coming right back out for more pictures and more fellowship with the extended Hawk family and the players' family families.

And there was Bolland, box of Bud Light in his hand (it isn't good beer but hey, at least you can drink a bunch of the about-four-percent-alcohol brews and not get too drunk), passing out cans to whoever he happened across.

One of those people was Channel 7 sports anchor Mark Giangreco, who took the beer, said a few more words about how awesome hockey players are and then, despite a question from Ron Magers in the studio back in Chicago, noted he needed to go find a place to drink the beer and walked away from the camera, seemingly done for the evening.

The joy of hockey is the players, the unfailingly polite and humble players who rather than sitting and waiting for minions to bring them whatever food and drink they could have possibly desired instead take the beer in hand and distribute it to folks on the fringe of the party.

On this night it was Bolland who scored the big goal but it could have been any one of more than a dozen potential goal-scorers on this extraordinary team. And the Bolland goal doesn't happen without first Marcus Kruger securing control of the puck on the boards and passing it back to Johnny Oduya at the point.

Oduya launched another of his amazingly accurate point shots and there was Michael Frolik, who did such an amazing job killing penalties all through the playoffs, oftimes with Kruger by his side, tipping it past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask.

It looked like the Bruins had caught a huge break when the puck found the post but then there was Bolland to flip in the rebound.

How cool was it that Hawk stars Toews and Keith combined to set up Bickell's game-tying goal and then it was the team's depth that was on display when less well-known players from the deep well of Blackhawk talent combined for the game-winner?

Just about anyone who watched this series would have acknowledged that these were two very, very evenly matched teams. But the Hawks found a way to make the clever little plays that made the difference, in particular the two-goal rally last night that was so reminiscent of the one in Game 1 that enabled the Hawks to rally from a 3-1 third period deficit and eventually win in triple overtime.

What followed were a couple Bruin wins that put the Hawks within viewing distance of the brink. But then for the second time in the playoffs, the team from Chicago summoned the fortitude to win three straight to close out the series (they of course also did it against the Red Wings in the second round).

Last I checked this morning, the celebration had moved from O'Hare to the Harry Caray's in Rosemont, where hopefully the boys all grabbed some decent steak and eggs or some other late night/early morning feast.

The celebration had gone on all night but it was still just getting started.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:42 AM | Permalink

June 24, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

1. Snowden Was Here.

On the North Stage at 6 p.m. last night.

2. President's Pants On Fire.

Good thing he has no balls.

3. McKinsey 4 Kids.

CPS grooming scary cult of kiddie corporate consultants.

4. Edward Snowden's Motives, Personality, Ex-Girlfriend And GED Are Irrelevant.

"Is Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor? I don't care," Ron Fournier writes for the National Journal.

"You read right: I don't give a whit about the man who exposed two sweeping U.S. online surveillance programs, nor do I worry much about his verdict in the court of public opinion.

"Why? Because it is the wrong question. The Snowden narrative matters mostly to White House officials trying to deflect attention from government overreach and deception, and to media executives in search of an easy storyline to serve a celebrity-obsessed audience."

5. Rahm's Sacks.

"Perhaps more than even his predecessor, Richard Daley, Emanuel is leaning heavily on a corps of successful business leaders, many of whom make their millions in Chicago, raise their families in tony suburbs and lead a variety of the city's most high-profile charitable causes and institutions," the Tribune reports.

"They are often white, male and Republican, called to serve a business-friendly Democratic mayor out of some combination of civic and professional responsibility."

6. This Really Is Big Brother: The Leak Nobody's Noticed.

"Leaks to the media are equated with espionage," McClatchy reports.

"'Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,' says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program that was obtained by McClatchy."

7. Where Did Our 'Inalienable Rights' Go?

'I envy the commentators who, after a few days of vague discussion, think they have heard enough to strike the balance between liberty and security," Max Frankel writes for the New York Times.

"Many seem confident that the government is doing nothing more than relieving Verizon and AT&T and Facebook of their storage problems, so that government agents can, on occasion, sift through years of phone and Internet records if they need to find a contact with a suspicious foreigner. Many Americans accept assurances that specific conversations are only rarely exhumed and only if the oddly named Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allows it. Such sifting and warrants - in unexplained combination with more conventional intelligence efforts - are now said, by President Obama and his team, to have prevented several dozen potential terrorist attacks, with elliptical references to threats against New York City's subways and stock exchange.

"Even if true and satisfying, these assurances are now being publicized only because this huge data-gathering effort can no longer be denied. Whatever the motive for the leaks by Edward J. Snowden, they have stimulated a long-overdue public airing. Although the government's extensive data-hauling activity was partly revealed by diligent reporters and a few disapproving government sources over the last seven years, the undeniable proof came only from Mr. Snowden's documents. Until then, the very existence of the enterprise was "top secret" and publicly denied, even in Congressional hearings. Even now, the project remains a secret in every important respect.

"As those of us who had to defend the 1971 publication of the secret Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War have been arguing ever since, there can be no mature discussion of national security policies without the disclosure - authorized or not - of the government's hoard of secrets."

8. BP BS.

"Faced with public outrage and congressional pressure, the oil company BP vowed six years ago to develop cutting-edge technology that could sharply reduce toxic mercury discharged into Lake Michigan by its massive refinery about 20 miles southeast of downtown Chicago," Michael Hawthorne reports for the Tribune.

"BP enlisted scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and the Purdue-Calumet Water Institute to come up with methods that company officials said could set a model for factories and sewage treatment plants throughout the Great Lakes region. But despite promising results from two options tested, a new draft permit from Indiana regulators allows BP to avoid installing the mercury-filtering equipment at the Whiting refinery.

"Under the terms of an earlier decision by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the BP refinery can legally discharge an annual average of 23.1 parts per trillion of mercury - nearly 20 times the federal water quality standard for Great Lakes polluters. The proposed new permit would allow that special exemption to continue indefinitely."

9. Handball Hardball.

"The fact that Illinois and Missouri's prisons have become a farm team of sorts for Forest Park only explains part of the reason why the crowd here - sometimes 30 or 40 deep, drinking beers, smoking, shelling peanuts between games - stands out compared to the preppy joggers trotting past," Jessica Lussenhop writes for the Riverfront Times.

"Beyond the former inmates, the courts have always attracted an eclectic mix: restaurateurs, doctors, lawyers, Imo's delivery drivers, construction workers, entrepreneurs, prison guards and the unemployed. Forest Park even (very occasionally) lures the man some consider the greatest handballer to ever live, St. Louis' own David Chapman. And no matter what their background, handballers universally describe the game the exact same way:

"'It's an addiction,' says Terry Huelsman, the owner of the Break Billiards in Cahokia, Illinois. 'It's a poor man's country club.'"

10. NSA Leaks Don't Help Terrorists.

"If a person in government says the sun will come up tomorrow, it's sensible to believe that person - but not until the first rays seep over the horizon," Steve Chapman writes for the Tribune.

"Skepticism is even more justified when the government has been caught hiding something from the public and needs to excuse the secrecy."

And even more so when public officials making outlandish claims refuse to answer simple questions like those Chapman put to them.


The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Including: Bishop Hezekiah Walker, J.Cole, Especially Good, Joshua's Troop, and Manchester Orchestra.

Your Government Brought To You By . . .
. . . The 1% For The 1%.

The Ryan Sweeney Era Is So Cub
In The Cub Factor.

Alexei Knows Adversity
In The White Sox Report.

Messy Stories, Dirty Architecture
Broken windows and urban design.

Lego Wizardry In Schaumburg
Rotating tornado highlight of Brickworld 2013.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Too many secrets.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 PM | Permalink

The Ryan Sweeney Era Is So Cub

"Sweeney Finding His Groove As Everyday Player" says just about all there is to say about the current state of the Cubs.

First, he's Ryan Sweeney.

Second, he's only getting playing time because David DeJesus got hurt.

Third, he's only on the Cubs because the Red Sox didn't add him to their 40-man roster coming out of spring training.

Fourth, the Red Sox were his third organization - at age 28.

Fifth, the White Sox were his first organization; he was there for three years.

Sixth, he had some decent seasons in Oakland. And yet, they dumped him.

Seventh, any time someone in a Cubs uniform gets hot, he's a candidate to be traded at his highest value. Ryan Sweeney is now, sadly, at his highest value.

Eighth, the Cubs can't have nice things. See "Seventh."

Ninth, he's really enjoying being a Chicago Cub.

Tenth, he's Ryan Sweeney.

Week in Review: The Cubs lost three of four to the Cardinals before taking two of three from the Astros, which was just as embarrassing because it's the Astros.

Week in Preview: The Cubs get three in Milwaukee in the battle to stay out of the NL Central cellar before traveling to Seattle for three. Don't bother staying up - even for the 3:15 p.m. game on Sunday.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney managed to raise his batting average by 16 points this week to .230, largely on the strength of a 3-for-4 game, while leaving more men on base (10) than Gomer Pyle in an epic snafu.

In former second basemen news, Ronny Cedeno is not only still in the major leagues, but he beat the Cubs with a squeeze in the ninth on Saturday.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Starlin Castro lost 13 points on his batting average this week and 13 points on his OBP, which puts his slash line at .228/.264/.318. His career average is now .287 with a .325 OBP. He also committed four more errors this week, including two on Sunday, for a season total of 14.

The Legend of Dioner Navarro: Went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter; 1-for-4 as a starter.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana has his batting average up to .298 and his OBP up to .358 at Reno. He's 22-for-26 in stolen bases. Will he be wearing a Diamondbacks uniform when the Cubs visit in July?

Bullpen Bullshit: Do it now.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Cubs Runs plunged when the market opened this morning because they've obviously used them all up.

Sveum's Shadow: Dale Sveum's Five O'Clock Shadow moved to 11 p.m. this week but fell back to 10 p.m. when his team banged out 14 runs on Sunday. When it gets to midnight, his head explodes.

Shark Tank: 92 pitches in seven innings, which is better; nine hits but no walks. Also, he sent a message this week.

Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of Starlin Soriano.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Starts until Matt Garza is hurt again traded: 2.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that even the Cubs' best players are overrated.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:56 AM | Permalink

Messy Stories About Broken Windows, Urban Design And Dirty Architecture

If urban design is the language of the city, where is the story - and who tells it?

In Applied Words: on Architecture and the Urban Plan, the Guild Literary Complex invites writers to examine our relationships with the built environment.

"Broken Windows," the first reading in a series of three to continue from now until October, will take place on Tuesday, July 9, from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., in the Polish Triangle located at the intersection of Division Street, Ashland Avenue, and Milwaukee Avenue.

The free event will include an open mic and stories from Paul Durica, Maribel Mares, and Sarah Ross. A free afternoon workshop on "place making" will be lead by architect Katherine Darnstadt, founder of Latent Design, from 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. Open mic sign-up begins at 5:30 pm.

The "broken windows" social theory states that community ailments such as trash, graffiti, and loitering, when left unchecked, invite larger criminal problems. But if the "broken windows" are fixed, a community invites economic development and social prosperity. In practice, the concept can evolve into zero tolerance for behavior or people considered disruptive or unwanted. Our readers will present stories from the middle, tales that examine conflict and offer surprise as they foreground the human element in urban design.

The Applied Words series explores creative writings intersection with other fields. Ranging in discipline from art and architecture to social history and biology, Applied Words attempts to use the literary arts to enhance and/or creatively describe other fields. Applied Words: "Broken Windows" is part of summer programming by the Polish Triangle Coalition. It is co-sponsored by SOILED magazine and generously underwritten by Studio Gang Architects.


Katherine Darnstadt is the founder and principal of LATENT DESIGN, a collaborative of individuals whose projects focus on social, economic and environmental impact beyond the building. She has been published, exhibited, and featured widely, most notably at the International Venice Biennale, Core 77 Design Awards, Chicago Ideas Week, NPR, and as the 2013 American Institute of Architects Young Architects Honor Award winner.

Paul Durica has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan and a PhD in English from the University of Chicago. His writing has appeared in Poetry, The Chicagoan, Tin House, Mid-American Review, and Indiana Review among other places. With Bill Savage, he edited Chicago by Day and Night: The Pleasure Seeker's Guide to the Paris of America. He is the founder of Pocket Guide to Hell, a series of free and interactive talks, walks, and reenactments that deal with Chicago's past.

Maribel Mares is an author, educator, and organizer. She is a founding member of the Division Collective, a salon series featuring emerging writers, artists, musicians, architects, designers, and thinkers. She is also the co-creator of Kid City Chicago. Her writing explores the cultural and regional identity of Mexican American families.

Sarah Ross is an artist and organizer. She is a co-organizer of the Prison and Neighrborhood Arts Project, a new art and humanities initiative at Stateville Prison. She is the recipient of grants from the Propeller Fund, Graham Foundation, and the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts. Ross' work in sculpture, video, and photo visualizes struggles around space, class, access, and gender.

The Guild Literary Complex (GLC) is a community-based literary organization that presents and supports diverse, divergent, and emerging voices through innovative programs including performances and readings. GLC believes that vibrant literature contributes to society and community, and that people should have access to quality literary experiences that engage them with dynamic juxtapositions of voices and ideas. GLC programs include Palabra Pura (bilingual poetry); the Poetry Performance Incubator (collaborative theatre and poetry); and open-submission writing contests such as the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award and Prose Awards for short fiction and non-fiction. Since its formation, GLC has established itself, in the words of the Illinois Arts Council, as "Chicago's premier literary center." GLC has been twice selected as a model literary center by the National Endowment for the Arts.

SOILED - a dirty architecture magazine - tells messy stories about architecture. The stories are unexpected, they're accessible, and they instigate mischief. Collectively, the stories reach across disciplines to bring a diverse group of people into a public conversation about architecture. SOILED is published twice a year on each solstice. It is an interactive, physical artifact, simultaneously disposable and precious.

The Polish Triangle Coalition is formed to improve the surroundings around the area bounded by Ashland, Milwaukee, and Division Street. Neighborhood community groups, merchants and local schools are working to create a more pleasant and lively area at the Polish Triangle.

MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang is the founder of Studio Gang Architects, a Chicago-based collective of architects, designers, and thinkers practicing internationally. Jeanne uses architecture as a medium of active response to contemporary issues and their impact on human experience. Each of her projects resonates with its specific site and culture while addressing larger global themes such as urbanization, climate, and sustainability. Honored and published widely, Studio Gang's work has been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Building Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:42 AM | Permalink

Your Government Now Brought To You By The 1% Of The 1%

In the 2012 election, 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

Check out the full analysis here.


One sign of the reach of this elite "1% of the 1%": Not a single member of the House or Senate elected last year won without financial assistance from this group. Money from the nation's 31,385 biggest givers found its way into the coffers of every successful congressional candidate. And 84 percent of those elected in 2012 took more money from these 1% of the 1% donors than they did from all of their small donors (individuals who gave $200 or less) combined.


See also: Of The 1%, By the 1%, For The 1%.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:25 AM | Permalink

Lego Wizardry In Schaumburg

"We've seen plenty of crazy Lego re-creations over the years, from landmark architecture to vintage computers, but we can't help but be impressed when an entire movie is redone in bricks," CNET reports.

"That would be 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, which a team of 12 Lego builders has turned into a marvelous 3D plastic diorama that includes just about every scene in the film, including a rotating tornado.

"The collaborators from VirtuaLUG recently showed off the result of their teamwork at Brickworld 2013 Chicago, a display of spectacular Lego builds."

We've plucked a few from YouTube, including Oz.


A Lego Disco.


The Sydney Opera House.


The Mars Curiosity Rover.


A Complete Guided Tour of Brickworld Chicago 2013.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Bishop Hezekiah Walker at Ellis Park for Gospel Fest on Sunday night.


2. J. Cole feat. Omen at the House of Blues on Sunday night.


3. Arcangel at V Live on Sunday night.


4. Especially Good at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.


5. Joshua's Troop at Ellis Park for Gospel Fest on Saturday.


6. Manchester Orchestra at the Green City Music Fest in Wicker Park on Saturday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:26 AM | Permalink

Alexei Knows Adversity

The ball was hit fairly hard, but Alexei Ramirez still had time to get into position to field the bouncer off the bat of Alcides Escobar. Getting a force at second base would end the Royals' eighth-inning threat and preserve a victory - and a three-game sweep over Kansas City - for the stumbling White Sox.

Sorry, folks. This is 2013, and what used to be more or less routine has presented unprecedented challenges for this season's edition of the White Stockings. If you watched yesterday, Ramirez let the ball go through him into left field, two runs scored, and the Sox lost again 7-6.

Ramirez made 12 errors last season in 158 games. Yesterday's blunder matched that total, and we're still three weeks away from the All-Star game.

Before we castigate and curse Alexei, look at his body language. He hangs his head, his lips are moving, his eyes avert pitcher Jesse Crain, whose 29 consecutive scoreless appearance streak came to a painful end on Sunday.

That streak well might have ended Saturday when Alejandro De Aza, who appears to lack a basic understanding of the game, called off Alex Rios on an Eric Hosmer fly ball right before Alex was about to record the inning's second out. The ball dropped for a triple, but Crain pitched over it and held the Royals in check as the Sox won 3-2.

It would be understandable to slam Ramirez, who is having a lackluster season. Sure, he's hitting .277, right at his career average. But he hasn't homered since the season's second game, and he has just 14 RBI after averaging 73 over his first five years with the Sox. And he ranks near the bottom of shortstops when it comes to defense.

But this is a guy who knows adversity, which has to be the most overused noun in sports.

LeBron James talks about adversity, but what does he know? Ramirez and his fellow Cuban countrymen in the big leagues have experienced adversity in a real sense, whereas LeBron can always retreat back to Akron from whence he came.

But Ramirez can't go home to his native Cuba from which he defected at age 26 almost six years ago.

University of Illinois professor Adrian Burgos has studied and written about Cuban ballplayers walking away from their lives in hopes of a big contract and notoriety in the big leagues.

He wrote a book, Playing America's Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line, where he calls Alexei, Dayan Viciedo and other Cuban ex-pats as "men without a country."

"The biggest difference between Cubans and all the other Latino players is the reality of return," said Burgos in a phone call last weekend. "In making the decision to leave Cuba, they realize that. That's what makes it such a momentous decision. They know when they walk off the ballfield to a waiting car or another hotel or wherever they go, they know there is no turning back. These are young men making these decisions."

When put in this context, maybe booting yet another ground ball resulting in a White Sox loss pales in comparison to the life that Ramirez is leading. After not seeing his parents for five years, they came to Chicago last season, and his dad even threw out the first pitch before a White Sox game. Needless to say, that was an emotional time for the White Sox shortstop.

Last week when the Sox played in Houston, winning 4-2 last Monday to avert a four-game sweep by the 29-48 Astros, the Sun-Times ran a story about Adam Dunn and how comfortable he felt because he could stay at home with his family - they live in Houston - during the four-game series.

That doesn't happen for the handful of players who defected from the island nation.

"[It's a] very bold act," said Burgos, talking about players who leave their homeland for a chance to play in the United States. "These guys are looking to prove themselves on baseball's highest-paying, grandest stage. It's not the Olympics; it's not the World Cup or the World Baseball Classic. The major leagues is where you can prove your greatness on the baseball diamond and reap the greatest financial rewards. But for Cubans, you have to make a decision to leave something behind. There's an exchange there like no other in the world of sports."

The first great Cuban big leaguer was Adolfo Luque who won 194 games pitching in the National League for Boston, Cincinnati, Brooklyn and New York between 1914 and 1935. Of course, this was long before 1959 when Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista regime and assumed control of Cuba.

Luque was of European descent unlike Ramirez, Viciedo, Yasiel Puig, Jose Contreras, and Livan and Orlando Hernandez, all of whom are Afro-Cuban and would have been barred from playing in the major leagues prior to Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in 1947.

The Sox first black player was Minnie Minoso, occasionally called the Cuban Comet and a native of Havana.

Being black adds yet another piece to the puzzle, according to Burgos.

"When they [the Afro-Cubans] interact with people in the United States, people may not see them as Latino on the first instance," Burgos said. "They might just see a black man they expect to speak English. So the element of cultural adjustment becomes a little bit more complicated and complex for them finding a community and a place where they feel at home."

Chances are we will see many more Cubans seeking asylum with hopes of becoming major league stars. Puig is the most recent, he of the .400-plus batting average for the Dodgers. Cuba is a hotbed of baseball talent.

"They have a very organized system of player development," says Burgos. "From the time kids are 10 to 12 years old, they start playing in the sports academies that they have. It's run by the government, the National Institute for Sport and Education. Those kids play baseball half the day, then they spend the rest of the day in the classroom.

"They have this very organized system of development from the regional level up to national teams. When a prize player like Alexei Ramirez leaves, someone else will take his place on the roster. That's why they are able to compete at a very high level in these tournaments played around the globe."

But it is a big deal for the individual who elects to leave behind his family and culture for a chance to play in this country. Burgos mentioned the Mexican-American sportswriter Jorge Arangure who wrote a poignant piece in 2009 for ESPN The Magazine about the defection of Reds' closer Aroldis Chapman, whose fastball was clocked at 105 mph earlier this season.

Chapman, 21 at the time, was playing for a Cuban national team in the Netherlands in 2009 when he walked out of his Rotterdam hotel and defected. Once he attained Andorran citizenship, Cincinnati signed him for six years at more than $30 million. He left behind his parents, two sisters, and a girlfriend who has just given birth to his daughter, whom he's never seen.

Hearing about the lives these players leave behind makes a misplayed ground ball and another Sox loss in a season that's going nowhere seem inconsequential. But this is what they came here for - it's not inconsequential to them no matter the broader perspective.

"Ramirez sat for a long time staring into his locker. He declined comment through a translator," wrote Robert Falkoff on after Sunday's loss.

My guess is that Alexei wasn't thinking about how nice it would be to go home to his family. No, he was having trouble letting go of yet another crucial miscue in a season that has been filled with them.


Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:59 AM | Permalink

June 23, 2013

Kaner, Toewser, Bicksie, Sharpie And Crawly Put Hawks One Win Away From Another Stanley Cup

"Patrick Kane used his quick hands to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a two-goal lead and Corey Crawford did his part by stonewalling the Boston Bruins three days after taking heat for actually being on the winning side of a rare offensive barrage in the Stanley Cup Final," Dan Rosen writes for

"It all added up to the Blackhawks earning the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup on the road for the second time in 36 months.

"Kane scored his eighth and ninth goals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Crawford had a bounce-back performance with 24 saves Saturday night as Chicago held on to beat the Bruins 3-1 in Game 5 at United Center to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"The Blackhawks can lift the Stanley Cup in Boston on Monday, when Game 6 is scheduled for TD Garden. They won the championship on the road in 2010 on Kane's Game 6 overtime winner after they beat the Philadelphia Flyers at home in Game 5."

Kane's first goal on Saturday night.


Kane's second goal.


Corey Crawford saves the day.


Toews Tazed
Will Jonathan Toews be ready for Game 6? He looked awfully dazed on the bench - where he sat for the entire third period - after taking this hit to the head. Concussion, anyone?


See also: Captain Crunched.

Note: The NHL has announced it will not discipline Bruin Johnny Boychuk for the hit.


The Third Man
"Bryan Bickell skated toward the net, as brawny, crusty wingers are wont to do, then stopped once the whistle blew," Brian Hamilton writes for the Tribune.

"Then came the purposeful shove from the Bruins' Zdeno Chara, sending Bickell back-first into the glass. The Blackhawks winger stood incredulous, with a glove turned upward.

"It was Milan Lucic's turn moments later, as the Bruins winger skated over and stood nose-to-nose with Bickell. They presumably did not exchange souffle recipes, given what TV cameras caught during the ensuing face-off.

"'You're a fucking phony, you know that?' Lucic barked at Bickell.

"It was agitation and frustration that was all too real and effective in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday, with Bickell once again balancing physicality and production in a 3-1 victory at the United Center, assisting on the game-winning goal in a moment that encapsulated how the Hawks got to be one triumph away from a championship."

Bergeron Blow
The Blackhawks may have been without their captain for the third period, but the Bruins were without its heart, soul and most valuable player in Patrice Bergeron for the last two periods.

The NHL's ridiculously lax injury reporting requirements, possibly written by Bill Belichick, don't help anyone, truly, so we have no idea what's really wrong with Bergeron or Toews. Fan-friendly!

Sharp Shooter
Playing in the shadow of Toews and Kane (and even Marian Hossa) has made Patrick Sharp the most underrated Blackhawk out there - maybe even the most underrated player in the league.

"Yes, Patrick Sharp is getting a bit of grief from his teammates after he tumbled to the ice while celebrating a rare power-play goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals," AP wrote before last night's game.

"It's OK. Sharp is having too much fun to care.

"'I know I enjoy playing in games that mean a lot,' said Sharp, who leads the NHL with 10 playoff goals. 'I enjoy the big stage. I think we have a lot of players in this room that do that and that's the reason why we keep getting back here.'

"Sharp has been a key playoff performer for Chicago once again after he missed 14 games during the regular season with a shoulder injury. The talented wing had 11 goals and 11 assists in the postseason when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010.

"He has six assists this year, making him a contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP."

Last night, though, he got robbed.

"After giving up six goals to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night, Boston Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask's numbers might have taken a bit of a hit," Chris Peters writes for CBS Sports.

"However, during the first period of Game 5 on Saturday night, Rask showed the form that has made him the postseason's best goaltender.

"With just over five minutes to play in the first period, Chicago got a rare open look as Michal Handzus and Patrick Sharp found some room to work. As Handzus sent the puck over to Sharp, the left side of the net was gaping. That's when Rask exploded off the right side of the crease to make a lunging save with his arm off Sharp's one-time shot and preserve the 0-0 scoreline.

"It might be one of the best saves of the series. Sharp was sure to score if not for the athleticism of Rask."

Here it is:


The End Is Near
"A dozen slices of wheat bread and two plates of quartered oranges sat untouched on a table in the middle of the Boston locker room, fortifications for an overtime period that never came," Jim Litke writes for AP.

"In one corner of the room, attendants piled sticks into equipment bags as fast as they could. In the other, Bruins defensemen Zdeno Chara impatiently kept climbing off a table before the trainer massaging his sore right thigh was done. The team bus was already idling in a loading dock nearby.

"After a decisive 3-1 win by the Blackhawks on Saturday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins apparently couldn't get out of town fast enough. Whether they'll make it back to Chicago for Game 7 rests on the slim hope that they'll be able to generate more offense than they managed in the third period, or the rest of the series for that matter.

"We had some momentum there," Boston goaltender Tukka Rask said afterward. "We just ran out of time."

"More troubling, though, the Bruins are down 3-2 and fast running out of options."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:13 AM | Permalink

June 22, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

It seems unfair to pillory Paula Deen for her racial animus. It's clear she hates everyone equally.

Market Update
Turns out the economy is just like any other four-year-old; if you try to take away its candy, it'll melt down.

Olympic Reforms
So all it takes to motivate the populace and force change from a corrupt system is the Summer Olympics? Almost makes you wish for a Chicago 2024 bid, huh?

Baby Sox
The Royals don't have to go to so much trouble to announce their arrivals. We know they'll be here July 26.

Of course, the above won't matter since the Tigers get here first.

Editor's Note
Finally this week, to celebrate the reduction of Jeffrey Skilling's prison term, we will be shortening this sentence by t


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Short, sharp and shocking.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg talk with Roxy Music founder Bryan Ferry about re-interpreting his work. Later in the show, they weigh in on Kanye West's dark new album Yeesus."


The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Secret specials on-site only!


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

Documenting Violence Against Women


Journalists, victim advocates and criminal justice leaders examine violence against women and the media, including how the issue can be responsibly covered by the press and how official data can best be used to inform the public discussion.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.


A 50-year Plan for Surviving Climate Change


Blake Davis of UIC offers insight into the potential economic impact of climate change 50 years from now and how people can prepare for these effects.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.


Privatization and Education: Human Rights Lessons from the Chicago Teachers' Campaigns


Panelists examine the ongoing opposition to the privatization of schools and other public services by the Chicago Teachers Union and other groups.

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


Chicago by Day & Night During the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition


Chicagoans Paul Durica and Bill Savage provide colorful context to this unofficial 1893 guide to the respectable and illicit pleasures of the White City of 120 years ago.

Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.


Commissioner Avila Speaks: Don't Frack Illinois


Dr. Lora Chamberlain of the Illinois Coalition for a Moratorium on Fracking calls for all natural gas fracking in Illinois to stop until science and experience provide more information about the consequences of the mining procedure.

Sunday at 11 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:31 AM | Permalink

June 21, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"Metra CEO Alex Clifford, whose performance has been under review by the Metra board for months, resigned Friday," the Sun-Times reports.

"Clifford will get at least $442,237 in a buyout."

Just to put that in perspective, that's about the same amount Walmart paid to settle nationwide harassment claims.

Or about $50,000 shy of what Anthony Rizzo will make from the Cubs this year.

Or in the range of draconian budget cuts at Chicago's elementary schools.

Just sayin'.

Obama's War On Truth And Transparency
He lied about the NSA, for starters.

Office Hacks
"OfficeMax Inc. is seeking economic incentives to retain its corporate headquarters in Naperville once the office supply retailer completes its merger with rival Office Depot Inc.," the Tribune reports.

"Democratic state Sen. Thomas Cullerton of Villa Park introduced a bill Tuesday creating an economic incentive package, including tax credits, specifically for the combined business.

"At stake are about 2,000 OfficeMax employees in Illinois, which Cullerton doesn't want moving elsewhere, such as Boca Raton, Fla., where Office Depot is headquartered.

"Cullerton said the deal would be worth roughly $30 million in tax credits over 10 years if the company retains a non-retail workforce of 2,000 and makes a $150 million capital investment in the state."

Fine, as long as they're not allowed to buy pop with the money.

Beachwood Photo Booth
Vintage Airmaster.

Corporate-Judicial Complex
"In a series of rulings this year, the U.S. Supreme Court has steered a consistent course against consumers or small businesses that want to bring class action lawsuits against corporate defendants," Reuters reports (via Crain's).

"Comcast, Whirlpool and Sears are among the companies that have benefited from the court's rulings in recent months.

"American Express was the latest to benefit in a ruling on Thursday that marked the last Supreme Court class action ruling before the court's nine-month term ends next week."

Truth In Advertising
"While the proportion of Chicago residents challenged by housing costs has surged in the past decade - half of all renters and homeowners are now officially 'housing cost-burdened' - the city has apparently dropped the word 'affordable' from its next five-year housing plan," Curtis Black writes for Newstips.

Everyday Low Wagers
"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. paid $7.5 million for about 25 acres of land in the former Sportsman's Park racetrack in Cicero," Crain's reports.

Phone Moan
"Illinois cellphone users are overpaying by about $1.4 billion a year, according to a new study released Tuesday by the Citizens Utility Board and research firm Validas," the Tribune reports.

"The figure breaks down to about $194 a year in overpayment for every smartphone user and $30 a year in overpayment by traditional wireless users."

Remember: It's the phones that are smart, not the users.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Five for Friday.


The Beachwood Tip Line: To the max.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:25 AM | Permalink

Obama's War On Truth And Transparency

Hey, don't take it from me, and don't take it from Glenn Greenwald if you're buying into the smear campaign against a person who has done some of the most impressive and vital journalism of the last decade - take it from Barton Gellman of the Washington Post:


A lot of people criticizing Edward Snowden are forgetting that he didn't simply publish classified material on his own, as he could have. He took his documents to real-life journalists with editors and the vetting processes of entire news organizations behind them and submitted to interviews and their judgement about what should and shouldn't be published. And if it somehow bothers you that the Guardian's U.S. edition, incorporated on American soil, is connected to a British company, as if England is an "enemy," well consider that the Washington Post, cheerleaders of the Iraq War among other acts of journalistic malfeasance in favor of power, also published Snowden's claims.

Let's keep the focus where it ought to be.

See also:

* Revealed: The Top Secret Rules That Allow NSA To Use U.S. Data Without A Warrant.

* NSA Can Eavesdrop On Americans' Phone Calls, Documents Show.

* NSA Claims Broad Authority To Monitor Americans' International Calls and E-mails.

* Warrantless Searches: The Court "Oversight" Of NSA Phone Surveillance Is A Joke.

* President Obama/Bush Responds To NSA Spying Scandal.

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

Obama: Journalists Are The Enemy
"Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans' phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions," McClatchy reports.

"President Barack Obama's unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of 'insider threat' give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

"Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for 'high-risk persons or behaviors' among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.

"'Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,' says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program that was obtained by McClatchy."

See also:

* AP Boss: Sources Won't Talk Anymore.

* AP President Pruitt Accuses DOJ Of Rule Violations In Phone Records Case; Source Intimidation.

* Eric Holder On James Rosen: Weaselly Garbage.

Most Transparent Ever
* "President Obama's nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman, was approved yesterday by the Senate," the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes.

"As we had urged, however, lawmakers used the approval process to make sure Froman knows they aren't happy with the former USTR's secretive approach to trade agreements.

"Their calls for transparency echo demands EFF and other public interest groups have been making for years in response to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other trade agreements. Earlier this year, for example, EFF joined 24 other civil society groups on a letter to the Trade Representative documenting its abuse of the trade negotiation process and calling for a baseline of transparency."

* "Jay Carney doesn't have an answer for that. He hasn't discussed that subject with the president. He will refer you to the Department of [insert agency here]. He refuses to speculate on that. He'll have to get back to you.

"But he appreciates the question.

A Yahoo News analysis of the 444 briefings that Carney has held since becoming White House press secretary has identified 13 distinct strains in the way he dodges a reporter's question.

"Since Carney held his first daily briefing with reporters in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room on Feb. 16, 2011, for example, he's used some variation of 'I don't have the answer' more than 1,900 times. In 1,383 cases he referred a question to someone else. But will he at least speculate on hypotheticals? No. In fact, he has refused to do so 525 times.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:24 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. DI at Reggies on Wednesday night.


2. Me Jane at Township on Tuesday night.


3. Rockie Fresh with Logic at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.


4. Logic at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.


5. Distant Cities at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster

Airmaster®'s only focus is fans.

vintageaqfanorigetrsz.JPG(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)


You can buy it!

TITLE: "Airmaster"

MEDIUM: photography, digital print

SIZE: 11x14 inches, borderless

PAPER: acid-free, Fuji archival paper

FINISH: glossy


All prints will be signed by the artist, Helene Smith. (Copyright, 2013)

Unmatted, unframed.

This print is available in other sizes (including photo card) by request.

Your print will be shipped in a protective, sturdy mailer.

All items are shipped via First Class USPS, within the United States, though I ship internationally, as well. Please see the Shipping Section on my Policy Page for more details.

Please, allow up to 2 weeks for processing your order (though it will often arrive earlier!). I generally process each print when the customer places the order, although I do have a few prints on hand and will ship sooner if your photo is in stock. If you are in a rush, let me know and I will try to accommodate you.


Purchase through Etsy.


* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day


More Chicago photos from Helene Smith on Etsy.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

June 20, 2013

Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11

In defending the NSA's sweeping collection of Americans' phone call records, Obama administration officials have repeatedly pointed out how it could have helped thwart the 9/11 attacks: If only the surveillance program been in place before Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. authorities would have been able to identify one of the future hijackers who was living in San Diego.

Last weekend, former Vice President Dick Cheney invoked the same argument.

It is impossible to know for certain whether screening phone records would have stopped the attacks - the program didn't exist at the time. It's also not clear whether the program would have given the NSA abilities it didn't already possess with respect to the case. Details of the current program and as well as NSA's role in intelligence gathering around the 9/11 plots remain secret.

But one thing we do know: Those making the argument have ignored a key aspect of historical record.

U.S. intelligence agencies knew the identity of the hijacker in question, Saudi national Khalid al Mihdhar, long before 9/11 and had the ability find him, but they failed to do so.

"There were plenty of opportunities without having to rely on this metadata system for the FBI and intelligence agencies to have located Mihdhar," says former Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who extensively investigated 9/11 as chairman of the Senate's intelligence committee.

These missed opportunities are described in detail in the joint congressional report produced by Graham and his colleagues as well as in the 9/11 Commission report.

Mihdhar is at the center of the well-known story of the failure of information sharing between the CIA and FBI and other agencies.

Indeed, the Obama administration's invocation of the Mihdhar case echoes a nearly identical argument made by the Bush administration eight years ago when it defended the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program.

Mihdhar and the other hijacker with whom he lived in California, Nawaf al Hazmi, were "experienced mujahideen" who had traveled to fight in Bosnia in the mid-1990s and spent time in Afghanistan.

Mihdhar was on the intelligence community's radar at least as early as 1999. That's when the NSA had picked up communications from a "terrorist facility" in the Mideast suggesting that members of an "operational cadre" were planning to travel to Kuala Lumpur in January 2000, according to the commission report. The NSA picked up the first names of the members, including a "Khalid." The CIA identified him as Khalid al Mihdhar.

The U.S. got photos of those attending the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia, including of Mihdhar, and the CIA also learned that his passport had a visa for travel to the U.S. But that fact was not shared with FBI headquarters until much later, in August 2001, which proved too late.

"Critical parts of the information concerning al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi lay dormant within the Intelligence Community for as long as eighteen months," the congressional 9/11 report concludes, "at the very time when plans for the September 11 attacks were proceeding. The CIA missed repeated opportunities to act based on information in its possession that these two bin Laden-associated terrorists were traveling to the United States, and to add their names to watchlists."

Using their true names, Mihdhar and Hazmi for a time beginning in May 2000 even lived with an active FBI informant in San Diego.

The U.S. lost track of Mihdhar's trail in Asia in early 2000, but there were more chances.

"On four occasions in 2001, the CIA, the FBI, or both had apparent opportunities to refocus on the significance of Hazmi and Mihdhar and reinvigorate the search for them," the 9/11 Commission report says.

The report concludes that if more resources had been applied and a different approach taken, Mihdhar could have been found and stopped.

So, apart from all the missed opportunities, would a theoretical metadata program capturing phone records of all Americans made a difference before 9/11?

Key details about Mihdhar's activities and the NSA before 9/11 remain classified so it's difficult answer conclusively.

So let's turn to the comments of FBI Director Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary Committee last week.

Mueller noted that intelligence agencies lost track of Mihdhar following the January 2000 Kuala Lumpur meeting but at the same time had identified an "al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen."

He continued: "They understood that that al-Qaeda safe house had a telephone number but they could not know who was calling into that particular safe house. We came to find out afterwards that the person who had called into that safe house was al Mihdhar, who was in the United States in San Diego. If we had had this [metadata] program in place at the time we would have been able to identify that particular telephone number in San Diego."

In turn, the number would have led to Mihdhar and potentially disrupted the plot, Mueller argued.

(Media accounts indicate that the "safe house" was actually the home of Mihdhar's father-in-law, himself a longtime al-Qaeda figure, and that the NSA had been intercepting calls to the home for several years.)

The congressional 9/11 report sheds some further light on this episode, though in highly redacted form.

The NSA had in early 2000 analyzed communications between a person named "Khaled" and "a suspected terrorist facility in the Middle East," according to this account. But, crucially, the intelligence community "did not determine the location from which they had been made."

In other words, the report suggests, the NSA actually picked up the content of the communications between Mihdhar and the "Yemen safe house" but was not able to figure out who was calling or even the phone number he was calling from.

"[Y]ou should not assume that the NSA was then able to determine, from the contents of communications, the originating phone number or IP address of an incoming communication to that place in Yemen," said Philip Zelikow, who was executive director of the 9/11 Commission, in an e-mail to ProPublica. "It would depend on the technical details of how the signals were being monitored."

It wasn't until after 9/11 that the FBI figured out that "Khaled" was hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, calling from San Diego.

The 9/11 Commission report itself does not appear to describe the communication between Mihdhar and Yemen.

When the Commission report was released in 2004, according to Zelikow, "we could not, because the information was so highly classified publicly detail the nature of or limits on NSA monitoring of telephone or e-mail communications."

Information on the topic remains classified, he added.

Zelikow called Mueller's recent assertion about the metadata program "accurate and fair."

"It is definitely possible that, with the kind of databases that Mueller is discussing, used properly, the U.S. government would have been alerted during 2000 to the presence in the U.S. - and possibly the location - of these individuals - and possibly others he did not mention who arrived later," Zelikow said.

Theories about the metadata program aside, it's not clear why the NSA couldn't or didn't track the originating number of calls to Yemen it was already listening to.

Intelligence historian Matthew Aid, who wrote the 2009 NSA history Secret Sentry, says that the agency would have had both the technical ability and legal authority to determine the San Diego number that Mihdhar was calling from.

"Back in 2001 NSA was routinely tracking the identity of both sides of a telephone call," he told ProPublica.

The NSA did not respond to a request for comment. The FBI stood by Mueller's argument but declined to further explain how the metadata program would have come into play before 9/11.

There's another wrinkle in the Mihdhar case: In the years after 9/11, media reports also suggested that there were multiple calls that went in the other direction: from the house in Yemen to Mihdhar in San Diego. But the NSA apparently also failed to track where those calls were going.

In 2005, the Los Angeles Times quoted unnamed officials saying the NSA had well-established legal authority before 9/11 to track calls made from the Yemen number to the U.S. In that more targeted scenario, a metadata program vacumming the phone records of all Americans would appear to be unnecessary.

That story followed President Bush's defense of the NSA warrantless wiretapping program, which had just been revealed by the New York Times.

"We didn't know they were here, until it was too late," Bush said in a December 2005 live radio address from the White House.

It's not clear how the wiretapping program would have come into play in the Mihdhar case. The program at issue in 2005 involved getting the actual content of communications, which the NSA had already been doing in the Mihdhar case.


See also: Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:04 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Whitney Young Magnet High School, Michelle Obama's alma mater, may have to charge students $500 to attend a seventh period because of nearly $1 million in budget cuts the school is facing," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"Under the proposal, all students at the high-powered magnet school at 211 S. Laflin would attend six periods, but students wanting to take a seventh would have to pony up $500, according to a letter sent Wednesday to faculty and parents by Whitney Young Principal Joyce Kenner."

And don't forget, Chicago's schools are now BYOTP.


"Despite CPS' contention that school-based budget cuts are 'not severe,' Raise Your Hand parent members are reporting massive cuts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and even millions at some schools. Raise Your Hand is keeping a list of cuts and with just over 10% of schools reporting so far, there is a loss of just over $45 million."


Not severe?

"Ken Fitzner, first-year principal of Audubon School, knew budget cuts were coming but 'the extent to which the cuts are happening is shocking,' he said at Monday night's Local School Council meeting," DNAinfo Chicago also reports.

"When I saw these numbers, my jaw dropped," Fitzner said as he presented Audubon's financials for the 2013-14 school year to the 50 attendees. "These are below state foundations."

"The net loss for the school amounts to $400,912, which would translate into four to six teaching positions being cut and class sizes rising to 37-45 students, according to Fitzner. Eliminating one of two seventh-grade teachers would result in 61 students in a single homeroom, he said."


"But at least we're seeing progress on building a new stadium for DePaul," Curtis Black writes for Newstips, in which he discusses alternatives to draconian school cuts.


"After 119 years, school's out forever at West Pullman Elementary," the Tribune reports.

"None of the school's 45 staff members has found a job elsewhere in the school system."

Maybe they can sell peanuts at DePaul games.


"In a grim scene being replicated all across the city, the local school council at Thomas Kelly High School will meet Thursday to approve a budget that cuts $4 million from this year's $25 million spending," Mark Brown writes for the Sun-Times.

"To accomplish this 18 percent reduction, the principal at Kelly has proposed eliminating 23 of the school's 183 teaching positions.

"In addition, 10 of the Southwest Side school's 46 staff members - secretaries, clerks, classroom aides and the like - will also lose their jobs.

"On top of that, the school will spend 50 percent less on textbooks and on supplies such as toilet paper and sidewalk salt.

"Transportation spending - which covers buses for field trips, athletics and other extracurricular activities - will be reduced 70 percent. Equipment spending - for desks, chairs, computers and such - will be slashed 87 percent.

"Lost in the continued angst over school closings, many surviving Chicago Public Schools are facing painful budget cuts that may end up eliminating more jobs and disrupting more students than did even the closings.

"These cuts coincide with introduction of a new funding formula that CPS officials say is intended to give principals the flexibility to minimize harm to the classroom.

"But many of these same principals are reporting back to their local school councils that CPS has reduced funding so much that teacher cuts and other educational impacts are unavoidable.

"While a spring budget scare is par for the course at CPS, what's unusual here is that it isn't the CPS central office sounding the alarm. In fact, a CPS spokesman continued Wednesday to emphasize the school budgets are only preliminary and that the final numbers will show 'very minimal cuts.'"


That's either the latest in a long string of bald-faced lies coming out of CPS or there is an unconscionable game afoot.


Meanwhile . . .

"For the second time in two years, Chicago Public Schools' $100 million-a-year food-services operation is being probed for alleged improprieties," Crain's reports.


Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11
Obama uses the same debunked claim as Bush.

Hawks Reunited And It Feels So Good
There's only one perfect fit, and Toews, Kane and Bickell is it.

The Futurists Are (Almost) Here
Invasion alert.


The Beachwood Tip Line: BYOTP.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:18 PM | Permalink

Reunited And It Feels So Good

"Losing their balance in the Stanley Cup finals, the Chicago Blackhawks righted themselves Wednesday night with a 6-5 overtime victory in a wild Game 4 that they almost frittered away," Jeff Z. Klein writes for the New York Times.

"The Blackhawks tied the series by reverting to what they do best, even though it was hardly a masterpiece and they blew a pair of two-goal leads.

"They played a wide-open game and broke through the Bruins' neutral-zone blockade. They got another clutch overtime goal from defenseman Brent Seabrook, whose overtime goal in Game 7 beat the Detroit Red Wings in the second round. And Coach Joel Quenneville reunited his stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the first time in this series.

"Toews and Kane each scored a goal, the first of the series for both of them. Along with their linemate, Bryan Bickell, they combined for 11 shots on goal. They were all on the ice for Seabrook's winner at 9 minutes 51 seconds of overtime that was assisted on by Kane and Bickell, with a screen provided by Toews. Kane and Toews finished at plus-2 each, and Bickell finished at plus-3."

Kane was mic'd up for it.


"At 9:51 of overtime, Brent Seabrook lifted his stick, ready to rip a slap shot on Tuukka Rask. It was the third attempt of Chicago's game-winning flurry," Fluto Shinzawa writes for the Boston Globe.

"Just seconds earlier, Patrick Kane had cruised past Dennis Seidenberg to slip a sharp-angle shot on Rask. The netminder stopped Kane's shot. But the rebound skittered out to Bryan Bickell at the left circle. Bickell hammered a shot that deflected off Patrice Bergeron and rolled out to the point.

"So when the puck squirted out to Seabrook, the Bruins were in full pursuit. Jaromir Jagr couldn't clear the puck. Bergeron couldn't fill the shooting lane in time. The Blackhawks made the Bruins pay. Seabrook whistled the puck over Rask's blocker to give the Blackhawks a 6-5 overtime win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden."

Seabrook takes us through it.


From Bryan Bickell's blog:

"We had a plan coming into Game 4 on Wednesday, and we knew we had to execute it or the Bruins were going to take a commanding 3-1 lead on us in this series. We couldn't let that happen.

"I thought our first period was what we wanted. We emphasized our speed, and I thought in the first we brought it. We created turnovers because we used our speed.

"Unfortunately, we got into some penalty trouble and they got some power-play goals, so a couple of our mistakes kept them in it. But other than that I thought we stuck to our game plan of using our speed and it really worked. We probably made it very interesting for a lot of fans back home, too.

"We had a lot of chances. Our puck-possession game was there. Overall, it was a good game and it was fantastic to get the OT goal from Brent Seabrook.

"I was on the ice for it and it just felt great. Patrick Kane shot it, it came off the scrum and I shot it. I think the puck hit Patrice Bergeron and it went to Seabs, who walked it and then hammered it past Tuukka Rask."


The view of the game-winner from inside Tuuka Rask's net.


"The Bruins and goalie Tuukka Rask had been playing better defense than the 1985 Chicago Bears, holding the Blackhawks to five goals in three games and shutting them out in Game 3," Christopher Gasper writes for the Boston Globe.

"But Chicago battled for the valuable real estate in front of Rask and relied on the oldest axiom in the game. A goalie can't stop what he can't see.

"That was the case on the game-winner, a long shot from defenseman Brent Seabrook at 9:51 of the extra period that came with captain Jonathan Toews bivouacked in front of the Boston net.

"'If they're ugly goals, fine we don't care,' said Toews, who notched his first point of the series on a tip-in goal in the second period that gave Chicago a 2-1 lead. 'We'll find a way. That's what we need to keep doing.'"


"I like that line,'' said Quenneville. "They seem to have some chemistry. Scoring certainly helps. Everybody on that line brings something different to the party. Bicks, off the rush, can shoot. Kaner has possession. Jonny gets through. It's a nice combination. So it was nice to see them back and productive, too. I'm sure they're excited about returning together. Jonny had the puck more today. I thought he was more friendly with it. That line was dangerous, be it off the rush, in the zone. Obviously, scoring has got to help him. The excitement of that line, Kaner in possession, Bick around with the big body, they scored some different kinds of goals but Jonny had a nice night.''


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:35 AM | Permalink

The Futurists Are (Almost) Here

Futurists from around the globe will meet in Chicago July 19-21 to discuss technology, education, business, and the future of the human race at WorldFuture 2013: Exploring the Next Horizon, the annual conference of the World Future Society.

Sometimes called a "World's Fair of Ideas," WorldFuture 2013 will feature more than 60 sessions, workshops and special events over the course of two-and-a-half days on such topics as life in the year 2100, nanotechnology, building computers that can think like humans, saving humanity from environmental collapse, the geo-security environment of the future, and the effects of rapidly accelerating technology on business, education, health, and the way we live. The event will take place at the Hilton Chicago Hotel.

Who are "futurists"? They include business and government decision-makers, military strategists, educators (and students), and a wide range of individuals and organizations who are interested in knowing the trends that are shaping the world of tomorrow. Registration for this event and membership in the World Future Society is open to the public.

Speakers at this year's conference will include:

* Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the MIT Media Lab, author of the bestselling book Being Digital, is also a seminal voice in education reform. His One Laptop Per Child program has distributed more than 2.5 million computers to children around the globe.

At WorldFuture 2013, he'll discuss his most recent and bold experiment in education, ever. Here's how he described it recently:

"We have delivered fully loaded tablets to two villages in Ethiopia, one per child, with no instruction or instructional material whatsoever . . . Within minutes of arrival, the tablets were unboxed and turned on by the kids themselves. After the first week, on average, 47 apps were used per day. After week two, the kids were playing games to race each other in saying the ABCs."

* Ramez Naam is the H.G. Wells Award-winning author of More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement. Naam spent 13 years at Microsoft, where he led teams working on a variety or projects including artificial intelligence. His most recent nonfiction book is The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet (University Press of New England, March 2013), Seattle, Washington, USA.

At WorldFuture 2013, Naam will dive into the perilous challenges that face us as a species, how we've overcome similar challenges in the past, and the steps we have to take now to maximize our odds of coming out of the twenty-first century richer and better off than when we entered it. Read Naam's feature article in the March-April issue of THE FUTURIST magazine

"Humanity is at the peak of its accomplishments and well-being. But we also face the largest challenges we've ever seen: climate change, finite fossil fuels, disappearing fish and forests, dwindling freshwater supplies, and the pressures of meeting the needs of billions rising out of poverty," Naam writes on the World Future Society Web site.

"Against these challenges of a finite planet, our most powerful resource is our ability to innovate to produce new solutions, to replace physical resources that have been depleted, and to multiply the power and effectiveness of the physical resources that remain. To tap into our ability to innovate, however, we must make key changes."

* "Most people laugh when I tell them I am a professional futurist," says Sheryl Connelly. But her job is no joke. Connelly is the Global Consumer Trends and Futuring Manager for Ford Motor Company. As Ford's corporate futurist, she identifies global trends that feed into functions across the entire company, including design, product development, and corporate strategy. She was recently named one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company magazine.

At WorldFuture 2013, she will share her unlikely journey to becoming a corporate futurist.

* Opening night kicks off with Futurists: BetaLaunch, a technology petting zoo where engineers, designers and others will present their inventions to the 900 futurists expected to gather for the conference. Futurists: BetaLaunch is one of the few design and expo showcases that focuses only on future-changing inventions.


About the World Future Society

Founded in 1966 as a nonprofit educational and scientific organization in Washington, D.C., the World Future Society has members in more than 80 countries around the world. Individuals and groups from all nations are eligible to join the Society and participate in its programs and activities. The World Future Society publishes the internationally read FUTURIST magazine.

The Society holds a two-day, international conference once a year where participants discuss foresight techniques and global trends that are influencing the future. Previous conference attendees have included future U.S. President Gerald Ford (1974), Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy (1975), behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner (1984), age-wave expert Ken Dychtwald (2005), U.S. comptroller general David M. Walker (2006) and inventor Ray Kurzweil (2010). Others in attendance typically include business leaders, government officials, scientists, corporate planners, and forecasters from across the globe.


Bonus Video! The World Future Society's Current Top Ten Predictions.


More predictions here.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:31 AM | Permalink

June 19, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Michael Hastings, the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal, has died in a car accident in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone has learned. He was 33."


"Hastings' hallmark as reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power."

Shouldn't that be the hallmark of every reporter - and thus, not a hallmark at all but standard operating procedure hardly worth noting?

The fact that it isn't says more about the vast majority of those who work in this business than it does about Hastings.


In Remembrance: Rahm Emanuel vs. Michael Hastings.


"He grabbed me by the arm and wouldn't let go while his bodyguards approached me," Hastings said. "And clearly trying to intimidate me with a threat of physical violence."


Remind you of anything? It did me.

The result was a confrontation in a council hallway that started with a mayoral aide screaming at Waguespack and ended with a red-faced Emanuel exploding in a way that will sound familiar to those - such as Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis - who have experienced being Rahminated. "He just came up a couple, three times and grabbed my arm a couple times, squeezed my elbow," Waguespack recalls. "He dropped the f-bomb a few times . . . no big deal. He did it in a way that was meant to be 'I'm the tough guy.' It just shows you what we're doing has an effect, and it makes him very angry, I guess, just for asking questions and asking for an outside opinion."

A source told me that when Rahm read this he exploded at Waguespack again.


Rahm gets away with assaulting people because the media has portrayed his obvious anger-management problem as colorful. But can you imagine if he was black, as someone once pointed out to me? He'd be described as not only angry, but out of control and a threat to everyone near him. Funny, that.


Rahm And Ari Emanuel Beat Me Up.


A lifelong pattern:


Hastings detested such behavior, as should we all. He was far more honorable than the likes of Emanuel.


"Hastings said he admired 'writers who live their lives with integrity and without compromise,'" the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Mainly you really have to love writing and reporting," he once said in a Reddit chat.

"Like it's more important to you than anything else in your life - family, friends, social life, whatever."


I didn't know Hastings personally, but I wish I did - I admired his work. He will be missed.


Spousal Support
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel accepted $10,000 in campaign contributions from the spouses of two top executives of a longtime city contractor that is also vying to take over the city's beleaguered red light camera program," the Tribune reports.

Just part of the Friends, Family & Spouses plan.


"The mayor's office said Tuesday that he will return one of the two $5,000 donations following a Tribune inquiry - the latest disclosure to raise questions about the limitations of Emanuel's self-imposed order banning political donations from people who have or are bidding for city contracts.

"Last month, Emanuel returned four donations totaling $25,000 and disqualified a company from a city marketing program after the newspaper revealed the contributions from that company's executives."

So the fine print of Rahm's self-imposed order says "unless the media doesn't find out because we're not checking."


"It appears that one of the two donations does not comply with the executive order, and it is being returned," Rahm's spokesflak Sarah Hamilton said in a statement. "This was an oversight, and when oversights are brought to our attention, donations are returned immediately, as is being done in this case."

Italics mine.


"Such a disqualification could prove very costly for David Gupta and the company he founded - System Development Integration - which in addition to seeking the red light contract has collected more than $137 million from various city computer systems contracts over the past decade.

"The mayor's Chicago for Rahm Emanuel campaign fund has reported two contributions from the wives of SDI's top executives, although in neither case is the connection to SDI disclosed by the Emanuel campaign. One $5,000 donation was reported Dec. 28, 2012, from Gupta's wife, Dawn. Campaign records identify her as the founder of a small holistic health company created in September called Balex LLC.

"The other $5,000 contribution to Emanuel was reported Jan. 10 from a woman listed as a 'homemaker' named Debra Diver. She is the wife of Brian Diver, the president and chief operating officer at SDI."

City officials must have thought the same last names were just coincidences.

Oh wait, I forgot, they're not checking.


"In addition to seeking the new business, SDI received a $1.5 million contract in November 2011 from the Emanuel administration to provide a paperless permit system in the city Buildings Department.

"Gupta's company also holds a $40 million city contract to provide tech support and computer maintenance for security systems at both Chicago airports, an $8.8 million contract to maintain the customer service and billing systems at the Water Management Department and a $5 million contract to help fix city payroll issues.

"All those contracts were signed by Emanuel's predecessor, former Mayor Richard M. Daley."


"Gupta, Diver and their wives did not return telephone calls for comment."

A spokesman did, but sometimes a reporter should only accept calls from the actual subjects of news stories, so I'm not even going to repeat what he said.

After all, how could a paid media handler tell us what they were thinking and whose idea it was and what their relationship is with the mayor?

I'd rather just record their denials and evasions and refusals to comment than let someone else speak to them for their own protection.


"According to Dawn Gupta's company website at, Balex was formed to help executives balance their lives through a combination of stress relief, spiritual awareness and exercise. Balex is defined on the website as 'the feeling one gets before and after a burst of enjoyment.'"

Too easy.


"Emanuel has been on a fundraising tear in recent months since saying he plans to seek a second term in 2015, and a number of donations to his two campaign funds raise questions about the limitations of his self-imposed restrictions.

"The mayor has defended taking tens of thousands of dollars from business developers who need his administration's approval for everything from zoning changes and tax breaks to building permits and liquor licenses. In addition, Emanuel has accepted more than $100,000 tied to private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners, despite its 48 percent ownership interest of a company whose subsidiary got a $6 million city contract from his administration. The mayor's office has said the contract doesn't count under his ban because it was piggybacked on a similar state contract."

In other words, there are really no (self-imposed) rules at all, because Rahm and his team will always find a way around them when they choose to. Self-imposedly.

Aldermanic Hall Of Infamy
"It takes something special to stand out as a dirty alderman in a city that has seen 30 current or former City Council members convicted of corruption since 1972," Kim Janssen writes for the Sun-Times.

"But disgraced former Ald. Ambrosio Medrano managed it Monday, when he became the first to be convicted twice in two separate cases."


Records are made to be broken, kids; some day we'll see an alderman get convicted for the third time, and we will rejoice.

Blackhawks Preview
Forget Hoffa, where's Hossa?

Fantasy Fix
Notes From The Hurt Lockers.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Manage your anger.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Notes From The Hurt Lockers

A disturbingly large number of star players are currently on the disabled list or have been on and off the DL all season.

And having a player drafted in the first- or second-round out of the lineup for weeks, or in some cases, months, is a sure way to land in the bottom half of the fantasy baseball standings.

Here's a brief list of stars with scars, and what we can expect for the rest of the season:

Matt Kemp: Arguably the biggest fantasy disappoint of the year even before he got hurt, Kemp originally was thought to be coming back from a hamstring injury by next week. The latest report is that there is still no timetable for a rehab stint. My money says he won't be back until after the All-Star break, and he won't be stealing bases as often as he did before he got hurt.

Bryce Harper: Harper might be a bigger disappoint than Kemp simply because the hype machine nudged him from a fourth-round pick to a second-round pick before the season started. Harper may be that good, but his recovery from a knee injury has been touch-and-go. He could be back by the end of this month, but Harper owners were expecting him back sooner.

Jose Reyes: Reyes is already playing rehab games in the minors, so he's very close to returning from a bad ankle sprain. When's he's healthy, he's electric, and could have a stellar second half for a team just beginning to find itself, but he's also injury prone.

Hanley Ramirez: More a fallen star than a star, since he was ranked outside the top 100 before the season. There was a good chance for him to succeed as a sleeper pick, but he has spent almost all season on the DL, or playing half-time and at half-speed because of lingering injury issues. Not a bad bet for a second-half breakout, provided can stay off the DL.

David Price: It was looking like he could be out until early July, but might be back sooner based on good reports from his simulated games. However, he had been pitching very poorly - a 1-4 record - before a triceps strain in mid-May. Can he get back to Cy Young form in the second half?

Ryan Braun: A nerve problem in his right hand shut down the alleged cheater, and Milwaukee, well out of contention, will give him all the time he needs to recover. Just guessing, but this one has the vibe of a problem that could linger well into the second half.

Troy Tulowitzki: The injury prone shortstop is out again with a rib fracture. He had been having arguably a career-best season at the plate thus far, and he'll probably be great when he returns around the end of July, but how long until the next injury?

Roy Halladay: Another fallen star who didn't even get drafted in some leagues. Everyone is rooting for one of the hardest-working players around to make a big comeback. There is no guarantee he will be back in 2013, but sounds determined to make it happen, which could make him an interesting waiver wire pick-up during fantasy baseball postseason.

Expert Wire
* likes Hector Santiago - eligible as both a starter and reliever in most leagues - as a waiver wire pick. You can't pick up Sox pitchers for victories these days, but Santiago may deliver in every other stat field.

* Bleacher Report notes that Stephen Strasburg is no longer an injured star.

* throws cold water on the Wil Myers hype.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

June 18, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Most of the [Patriot Act's] provisions involve modest changes in existing law that are hardly novel in theory or in practice, and many of its most controversial provisions - such as the ability of investigators in terrorism cases to obtain library records after receiving judicial approval - have yet to be used," former U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wrote in the Tribune in 2003.

How quaint.

Fitzgerald became one of the more persuasive supporters of the Patriot Act, though his chief concern was the way the legislation knocked down walls between intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI that had been erected to, um, protect civil liberties.

But, as unbelievable as it seems today, Fitzgerald (and a mayor named Richard M. Daley) was not able to convince the city council of his position; instead, the council actually passed a resolution back then against the Patriot Act by a vote of 37-7.

"Although lone Republican Ald. Brian Doherty (41st) called the resolution 'nothing but an innocuous piece of rhetoric formulated to embarrass our present administration,' concern over various provisions in the Patriot Act goes far beyond Chicago Democrats," Cate Plys wrote for the Tribune back then.

"It's a giant, 342-page piece of legislation expanding the federal government's powers in areas like wiretaps, searches and detaining aliens, passed just 45 days after Sept. 11, 2001.

"That didn't leave much time for the original debate. The act supposedly only empowers the government to fight terrorism, but civil rights groups complained from the start that it unnecessarily tramples fundamental liberties.

"Those complaints have gained so much steam that U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft toured the country last month trying to spiff up the act's image as the Bush administration begins lobbying Congress to expand government powers further in a Patriot Act II.

"In July, even the Republican-majority House of Representatives voted 309-188 to prohibit funding for a controversial section of the act authorizing 'sneak-and-peek' searches, in which government agents may conduct searches secretly.

"Such searches were previously done by court order, says American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Timothy Edgar, but the Patriot Act put it into federal law using the most lenient standards, such as not setting a deadline for post-search notification.

"Is the act as complex as Fitzgerald insists? Sure. All the more reason for Congress to give it another good hard look."

Abner Mikva thought so too.

A 2003 Sun-Times report by Abdon Pallasch:

The U.S.A. Patriot Act , passed a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is making us into the Police State of America, a former federal judge and three other critics of the act charged last week.

Nonsense, said Patrick Fitzgerald , the crime-busting, terrorist-fighting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois - it's just a common-sense measure to let law enforcement agencies communicate with each other and keep us all alive in an age of terrorism.

Fitzgerald took on retired judge and former Clinton White House Counsel Abner Mikva, a former hard-charging civil libertarian congressman from Chicago, in a debate last week at the Harold Washington Library over whether the Patriot Act was making us safer or just less free.

"The U.S.A. Patriot Act is a way for the government to get information," Fitzgerald said. "I investigated Osama bin Laden in 1996. We were walled off. The guys in the criminal investigation couldn't talk to the intelligence team. We talked to the New York City Police Department and the special FBI agents allowed to work with us. We could talk to people overseas. I went to foreign police. I talked to foreign intelligence agencies, the CIA. I even got to talk to al-Qaeda. Who could I not talk to? I could not talk to the FBI agent in charge of the bin Laden case across the street. That is warped. That is bizarre. That is dysfunctional. The Patriot Act fixed that."

Mikva said the Patriot Act was hardly so innocuous.

"It's a 342-page bill that changes our immigration laws, privacy laws, security, detention, the entire way the federal government treats its people," Mikva said.

The U.S.A. Patriot Act is actually an acronym for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism." Mikva described it as a grab bag of civil liberties-defying requests from federal prosecutors that he had rejected during the Clinton years.

"I was at the White House in 1995, and we were able to get some of the worst provisions excluded from the 1995 act , and they were just dumped wholesale into the Patriot Act ," Mikva said.

Fitzgerald said the Patriot Act gets blamed for everything the government has done since Sept. 11, 2001, to combat terrorism, such as detaining 1,200 illegal immigrants and the "enemy combatants" captured in Afghanistan at Guantanamo Bay. Those things were all done under existing law, he said.

"The number of detentions under the Patriot Act is zero," Fitzgerald said.

The Patriot Act does allow prosecutors across the country to avail themselves of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or "FISA Court," a secret court in Washington, D.C., created during the Cold War "that has turned down one request since it has been in existence," Mikva said.

"It allows sneak peeks," he added. "They can enter your house without any warrant and not tell you about it for some time afterwards. And it's not limited to terrorism--any case in which 'a prior warning would jeopardize the investigation or have an adverse affect.'"

Fitzgerald said he has not availed himself of the FISA Court since becoming U.S. attorney because existing laws and courts have been enough. He said Mikva exaggerated the court's power and deference to prosecutors.

"You make it sound like the judges, when they hear 'FISA,' want to give us everything we want," Fitzgerald said to Mikva.

"Yes!" Mikva shouted.

"They don't," Fitzgerald said. "People are so conservative, and you can't understand this, in the Department of Justice, they are so conservative - they never brought [a case] they thought they might lose."

Representatives of the American Library Association, the Arab-American Bar Association and a Japanese-American Cook County judge whose family was interned by the United States during World War II also joined the debate to share their concerns about the Patriot Act.

Two years later, in 2005, Pallasch filed this report:

That loud "Shhhhh!" you hear Monday may be the sound of 25,000 librarians reacting to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald 's defense of the government's right to confiscate people's library records.

Fitzgerald , like many U.S. attorneys around the country, has become a roving defender of the USA Patriot Act and its most controversial provision allowing federal investigators to seize people's library records.

Chief among the critics of that provision, passed in the nervous days after 9/11, is the American Library Association, which is meeting in Chicago this weekend.

Fitzgerald has volunteered to take his campaign for renewal right into the heart of the opposition Monday, debating Colleen Connell, director of the Chicago office of the American Civil Liberties Union, which takes the librarians' side.

"Do we really want to create a safe haven where you tell a terrorist the one place you can go in America and know you won't be investigated, where someone will wipe the computer clean when you're done with it, would be a library?" Fitzgerald said at another Patriot Act debate Tuesday. "In fact, the Sept. 11 hijackers were reported to have visited a library . . . as recently as 11 days before the attacks."

Ken Wainstein, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, told a House of Representatives committee in April that on Aug. 30, 2001, the Internet accounts of 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar were used at a public access computer in an unnamed state college in New Jersey to review the airline tickets they had ordered for American Airlines Flight 77, which they flew into the Pentagon.

A witness told federal investigators that men matching the descriptions of three other hijackers used a public computer at the Delray Beach, Fla., Public Library that July, Wainstein said.

So what? asks Michael Gorman, president-elect of the American Library Association.

"It's the crime that's the problem, not using library computers. That just seems completely absurd," Gorman said. "The American Library Association's bill of rights says you are entitled to confidentiality and privacy in your use of libraries. We don't keep records on what you read and the Internet connections you make. We believe that's part of democracy."

Again, what seemed menacing then seems quaint now - to our shame.

In 2011, the Tribune took a look back and noted that "When the Patriot Act passed in 2001, civil libertarians and privacy advocates raised concerns that it would expand government powers too much and threaten civil liberties.

"Fitzgerald said he believed some opponents were mixed up over what the law would accomplish."

I wonder, though, if Fitzgerald originally contemplated that the Patriot Act would be used the way it would come to be; the legislation's Republican author certainly didn't.

So instead of legislative intent, we have lawyers inventing interpretations to fit the desires of the executive branch. That's what's Nixonian - that when the president does it, it's not illegal. Except that Nixon acted by fiat. Now our presidents have the Justice Department make it all legal-like by simply writing memos re-imagining what laws mean.

It reminds me of how a former colleague once described corporate law to me. Say your company wants to build a cell tower - or drill for oil - in a particular location. Your job as a corporate lawyer isn't to determine whether it's legal, it's to find a way to interpret the law to make it legal.

Now imagine that instead of cell towers we're talking about civil liberties - well, you don't have to imagine because that's where we're at.

Even worse, in the case of our civil liberties the new interpretation of laws and the court to which they are presented are both secret.

Which is a long way of introducing you to Remember When The Patriot Act Debate Was All About Library Records?

Hawks Not Hungry Enough
Hey, that's not just us talking, it's also what Jonathan Toews says.

24 Hours With Prism
The TV channel, not the NSA program.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Act patriotically.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:50 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With PRISM TV

Not the NSA.

5 a.m. - 8 a.m.: Shepherd's Chapel.

8 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.: Grace Church.

8:30 a.m. - 9 a.m.: Bill Winston Ministries.

9 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.: Paid Programming.

9:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.: Amazing Facts Presents.

10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.: The Gospel Truth With Andrew Wommack.

10:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.: Joyce Meyer Ministries: Enjoying Everyday Life.

11 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: It's Supernatural.

11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.: Believer's Voice of Victory.

12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.: Billy Graham: Always Good News.

12:30 p.m. - 1 p.m.: Joseph Prince.

1 p.m. - 4 p.m.: Paid Programming.

4 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.: Monument of Faith.

4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Yvonne's Piano.

5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Kids News.

5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.: Paid Programming.

6 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.: Luz Divina.

6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.: The Gospel Truth With Andrew Wommack.

7 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.: Believer's Voice of Victory.

7:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.: Bill Kay Ford.

8 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.: Know The Cause.

8:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.: Know The Cause.

9 p.m. - 10 p.m.: Pol News.

10 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.: Joyce Meyer Ministries: Enjoying Everyday Life.

10:30 p.m. - 11 p.m.: Life Today.

11 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.: Paid Programming.

11:30 p.m. - 12 a.m.: To Be Announced.

12 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.: Disciples of Christ.

12:30 a.m. - 1 a.m.: Paid Programming.

1 a.m. - 2 a.m.: Pol News.

2 a.m. - 2:30 a.m.: Paid Programming.

2:30 a.m. - 3 a.m.: God's Chosen Ministries.

3 a.m. - 3:30 a.m.: Apostle John Eckhardt.

3:30 a.m. - 4 a.m.: Walking in Faith.

4 a.m. - 5 a.m.: Paid Programming.


* 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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:04 AM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: Hawks Not Hungry Enough

It could be worse.

But for a highly unusual two-goal rally in the third period of Game 1, the Hawks could be trailing the Bruins 3-0. Instead they are down 2-1 after losing their fourth straight Game 3 (!) in these playoffs.

Through three games, the Bruins are simply better.

What happens the vast majority of times this Bruins team gets a lead was on display last night. The Hawks generated some scoring chances in the third period (how did Bryan Bickell's shot in the last minute not go off the post and in?) but not nearly enough. And Tuukka Rask and the best defensive corps in hockey put the finishing touches on a 2-0 victory, Rask's third shutout of the playoffs.

"The Bruins are playing better defense than the 2003-04 Patriots," Dan Shaughnessy writes in the Boston Globe.

"The Penguins know this migraine," Kevin Paul Dupont writes for the Globe.

"So do the Rangers. The Bruins moved one giant step closer to a Stanley Cup championship Monday night on Causeway Street, once more blending their painful, punishing cocktail of stifling defense and air-tight Tuukka Rask goaltending (28 saves) for a 2-0 win over the Blackhawks.

"What a pain it must be to play the Bruins right now. They allowed the Penguins only two goals in four games in the Eastern Conference finals. They shut down everything and everyone Pittsburgh had to offer. Sidney Crosby disappeared. Evgeni Malkin never came out of the fog. Ditto for Kris Letang and everyone else in the Penguins lineup.

"And now it's happening to the Blackhawks."

But for a Blackhawk blitz in the first period of Game 2, you could make an argument that the Hawks have barely been better for an entire period (regulation or overtime) during this series, let alone a full game.

The worst news of all? It had to be on the injury front. The Hawks were going to have a tough time winning this series regardless, but winning it without surprise scratch Marian Hossa? Highly unlikely.

Hossa was the best Hawk in Game 1 and in so many tight games against good teams since the Cup-winning campaign, he has been the difference-maker for his team.

Now he's a man of mystery. The Hawks themselves said at first that Hossa was hurt in warm-ups.

But after the game, the story changed.

"Quenneville said the injury didn't occur in warm-ups," Fox Sports reports, "and captain Jonathan Toews said it 'was something that we were prepared for all day,' even though Hossa skated with the team earlier Monday and there hadn't been indication, at least publicly, he was hurt."

Which begs the question: If the team knew Hossa was questionable, why didn't his replacement, Ben Smith, get any ice time in warm-ups?

The team did acknowledge that Hossa suffered an "upper body injury," but A) I think the team would be more than willing to lie about that if it believed it provided Hossa a little more protection and B) "upper body injury" covers so much stuff, a team ought to just go ahead and say "he's injured somewhere."

And that left the Hawks hurting.

"Marian Hossa's absence from the Chicago Blackhawks' lineup for Game 3 wasn't being used as a defense for their 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday night," Greg Wyshynski writes for Yahoo! Sports.

"But the fact is that Hossa is tied for the team lead in points, and the Chicago offense was punchless - especially on the power play, where Hossa ranks fourth in average ice time.

"His loss was significant; the timing of that loss made things downright chaotic."

In the end, the team described Hossa's ability to play going forward as "day-to-day." Aren't all of us, though?

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are holding Hossa's condition more closely than the NSA guards its secrets.

No question, the Hawks need Hossa - especially with Toews not appearing to be playing at anything close to full strength. He clearly doesn't have the jump he did in the first three-quarters of the regular season.

He has persevered, of course, and done his usual amazing job of back-checking and everything else the ultimate defensive forward can do, but he isn't creating offense for himself or his teammates. He took a few big hits late in the regular season and, of course, has been a target in the playoffs - particularly of Bruin bad boy Brad Marchand in this series - and just can't seem to elevate his game. Maybe he's suffering an upper-body injury, too.

And while Toews is getting his lunch handed to him by Patrice Bergeron, Patrick Kane has disappeared again.

That's why nothing else will matter much if Hossa can't return and give this team a spark.

"The Hawks went 0-for-5 on the power play and have failed on all 11 opportunities with a man advantage in the series," Chris Kuc reports for the Tribune.

"Also not helping matters was a dreadful night in the faceoff circle as the Hawks lost 40 of 56 draws - including 6 of 7 on the power play.

"It's about us," Toews said. "We've just got to be hungrier for the puck sometimes. And on the power play, we can help each other out more, keep more plays alive and not let them break out of their zone so easily."

It's the Stanley Cup Finals, boys. You should be hungry enough. Boston certainly is.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

Remember When The Patriot Act Debate Was All About Library Records?

In the months following the October 200 passage of the Patriot Act, there was a heated public debate about the very provision of the law that we now know the government is using to vacuum up phone records of American citizens on a massive scale.

"A chilling intrusion" declared one Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun.

But the consternation didn't focus on anything like the mass collection of phone records. Instead, the debate centered on something else: library records.

Salon ran a picture of a virtual Uncle Sam gazing at a startled library patron under the headline, "He knows what you've been checking out."

In one of many similar stories, the San Francisco Chronicle warned, "FBI checking out Americans' reading habits."

The concern stemmed from the Patriot Act's Section 215, which, in the case of a terrorism investigation, allows the FBI to ask a secret court to order production of "any tangible things" from a third party like a person or business. The law said this could include records, papers, documents, or books.

Civil liberties groups and librarians' associations, which have long been fiercely protective of reader privacy, quickly raised fears of the FBI using that authority to snoop on circulation records. The section even became known as the "library provision."

Yet as the Guardian and others revealed this month, the government has invoked the same provision to collect metadata on phone traffic of the majority of all Americans - a far larger intrusion than anything civil libertarians warned about in their initial response.

"A person might uncharitably think of us as lacking in imagination," says Lee Tien, a longtime attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In a speech before casting the sole dissenting vote in the Senate against the Patriot Act, Sen. Russ Feingold did zero in on Section 215 as "an enormous expansion of authority" with "minimal judicial supervision."

But even Feingold did not conceive of the provision being used for bulk data collection, merely mentioning the possibility of individualized cases - for example, compelling "a library to release circulation records."

Civil liberties advocates said in interviews there is a simple reason for the disconnect: In the period immediately after the Patriot Act passed, few if any observers believed Section 215 could authorize any kind of ongoing, large-scale collection of phone data.

They argue that only a radical and incorrect interpretation of the law allows the mass surveillance program the NSA has erected on the foundation of Section 215.

The ACLU contends in a lawsuit filed last week that Section 215 does not legitimately authorize the metadata program.

The reason libraries became a focal point, Tien says, is that, "People could see that those kinds of records were very seriously connected to First Amendment activity and the librarians were going to war on it."

Even before the Patriot Act passed, the American Library Association warned members of Congress that the business records provision under consideration would "eviscerate long-standing state laws and place the confidentiality of all library users at risk."

"The library groups have a very well-informed and active lobby," says Elizabeth Goiten, who co-directs the Brennan Center's Liberty and National Security Program.

So has the government ever used Section 215 to get library records?

We don't know.

Testifying before Congress in March 2011, a Justice Department official said Section 215 "has never been used against a library to obtain circulation records."

But as with so much else about the Patriot Act, how often or even whether the government has obtained library records is secret. Section 215 imposes a gag order on people or businesses who are compelled to produce records.

The FBI has also used a separate Patriot Act provision, issuing what is known as a national security letter, to seek library patron records.

One such episode prompted a successful court challenge by Connecticut librarians in 2005-06.

The government itself didn't get around to using Section 215 to vacuum up phone metadata until five years after the Patriot Act passed, in 2006, according to a new Washington Post report.

The government had been sweeping up metadata since after 9/11 but apparently was doing so without a court order.

USA Today revealed that warrantless surveillance in 2006.

Around the same time, according to the Post, the telecoms asked the NSA to get a court order for the data, believing that it would offer them more protection.

On May 24, 2006, two weeks after the USA Today report, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decided to redefine relevant business records under Section 215 "as the entirety of a telephone company's call database," according to the Post.

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, says that she has for years worried about bulk collection of metadata, but believed the government might be justifying it using other provisions in the Patriot Act.

"It was a really novel idea on the part of the government that they could use 215 to get bulk phone records," she says.

As part of the Patriot Act reauthorization of 2006, Congress changed some of the wording in Section 215.

But because the government's interpretation of the law is still secret, it's not clear whether the changes made any difference in the court's ultimate authorization of the metadata program.


See also:
* Republican Author Of The Patriot Act Says Section 215 Was Written To Prevent NSA Data Mining.

* "Most of the act's provisions involve modest changes in existing law that are hardly novel in theory or in practice, and many of its most controversial provisions - such as the ability of investigators in terrorism cases to obtain library records after receiving judicial approval - have yet to be used," then-U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wrote in 2003.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 AM | Permalink

June 17, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"A clout-heavy Chicago real estate developer is set to land a long-term deal to provide aircraft storage, fueling and maintenance at Gary's government-owned airport," the Better Government Association reports.

"The deal with Elzie Higginbottom Jr.'s East Lake Management & Development comes after Higginbottom put $10,000 into Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's political fund in September 2011 - the first-term mayor's biggest campaign contribution.

"Higginbottom is a longtime former chairman of the Cook County Housing Authority and was a major campaign fund-raiser for former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley."

Well, it is the Gary-Chicago Airport. We stole it from Indiana.


"The government board that oversees the Gary/Chicago International Airport, which sits along the Indiana Toll Road / Interstate 90 in Gary, gave its preliminary OK last month to bring in Higginbottom's company as the airport's second 'fixed-base operator.' Four of the airport authority's seven board members are appointed by Gary's mayor, and the rest by Indiana county and state officials."

Sure, but who's advising Gary's mayor?


"Higginbottom says he also knew three of Gary's former mayors and has managed property in the city for 25 years. He says he's been trying to get in at the Gary airport since 2003 and says there's no link between the money he gave Freeman-Wilson's campaign and his company's being hired.

"I'm a respectable businessman who works very hard to get what I have," Higginbottom says, adding, "I give money to people that are doing a good job or will do a good job in government."

For example . . .


Then there was the time that George Ryan appointed Higginbottom to the state gaming board.

"In political ties and background, new Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Elzie Higginbottom Jr. cuts a profile far different from his taciturn predecessor," the Tribune reported.

"While the previous chairman, former federal prosecutor Gregory Jones, showed little appetite for political activity, Higginbottom, 60, is a consummate insider whose companies derive millions of dollars in business from Chicago, Cook County and, indirectly, the state.

"In a record of achievement and controversy, Higginbottom has been lauded as an African-American success story, but also derided as a sellout. The inductee to the Chicago Association of Realtors' Hall of Fame has had properties that have drawn attention for building code violations. Critics question some of his business practices, such as a willingness to hire gang members in a Chicago Housing Authority development his company once ran."


The Trib called him The Collector.


Then there was the time Higginbottom was forced out of that job.

"The beleaguered head of the Illinois Gaming Board, Elzie Higginbottom, stepped down from his post Friday just before Gov. Rod Blagojevich was expected to replace him," the Tribune reported.

"Board member Violet Clark is expected to follow Higginbottom's lead, according to sources close to the situation. Her resignation is expected to be made official Monday.

"Their departures follow sharp criticism by Blagojevich and Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan over the board's 4-1 vote in March to site a new Illinois casino in Rosemont despite allegations of mob ties to that northwest suburb and its leaders."


Also, from the Beachwood vault . . .

April 18, 2007:

"An influential black minister who has provided pivotal campaign support for Mayor Daley is a 30 percent managing partner in a pair of lucrative O'Hare Airport concessions awarded by City Hall," the Sun-Times reports.

"Since 1996, the Rev. Clay Evans has been a partner in The Grove, a nut and dried-fruit concession at O'Hare that once counted former Illinois Gaming Board Elzie Higginbottom, Daley's leading fundraiser in the black community, as a part-owner."

Evans justified his involvement by citing the nut and dried-fruit concessions mentioned in the Bible that were also brokered by a pharaoh.

Elzie Higginbottom: God's special creature.

Revolving Door
Medrano trial over, Oglesby trial to begin.

Bank Of America Hates Americans
Lied To Homeowners In Order To Foreclose On Them.

Game 2 Was Just Latest Chapter In . . .
. . . Comcast Sucks.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Sweet 17.

Promoting The Cubs . . .
. . . And Making The Team Better At The Same Time. In The Cub Factor.

The Trend Is: Bun Replacement
In our Random Food Report.

Ovah And Out
When you're in last place and help is not on the way. In The White Sox Report.

SportsMonday . . .
. . . will appear on Tuesday this week.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Metadatable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:14 PM | Permalink

Making It Better

The Brewers are having an even worse season than the Cubs - well, half a game worse at this point - but they're having a lot more fun.

For example, our very own Marty Gangler points out that this Sunday is Polish Guy Bobblehead Day.

The Cubs, on the other hand, will celebrate Edwin Jackson Bobblehead Day on Saturday.

And in July, the Brewers will host Zubazpalooza

The Cubs will have The PrivateBank Tote Bag Night.

Here are some promotions we'd prefer to see instead:

* Carlos Marmol Has Been Released Night.

* Darwin Barney Takes A Walk Day.

* Starlin Castro Is Put On ADHD Drugs Day.

* Dale Sveum Has Decided To Spend More Time With His Family Day.

* Joe Pa Ricketts Has Suddenly Decided To Sell The Team Weekend.

* First 10,000 Fans Get To Punch Theo Epstein in The Face Day.

* Alfonso Soriano Is No Longer A Cub Night.

* Floppy Hat Big Enough To Shield Your View Of What's Happening On The Field Day.

* Free Beer To The First 35,000 Fans. For The Rest Of Their Lives. Because They Deserve It.

Week in Review: The Cubs lost three of four to the Reds but were on the verge of sweeping the Mets when Marmol Happened.

Week in Preview: The Cubs are in St. Louis for four and then return home for three against the Astros. Guess which one of those franchises most resembles our own? (Hint: The wrong one.)

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney is still the everyday second baseman, which is remarkable given that he's been flirting with a batting average dangerously close to falling under. 200 and his OBP stands at .283. Even more remarkably, he left another 12 men on-base last week. He did start to pick it up a bit against the Mets, but that only raised his week's worth of production to 7-for-31.

It's taken an injury to David DeJesus for Dale Sveum to move Luis Valbuena and his .357 OBP to the leadoff spot (DeJesus's OBP was only .318); will it take an injury to Barney to move Valbuena to second and let Cody Ransom (.373 OBP) take over third for now?

In former second basemen news, you can take the man out of the Cubs but you can't take the Cubs out of man.

The Not-So-Hot Corner I believe we've just covered it.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Starlin Castro lost another two points on his batting average this week and six points on his OBP, which puts his slash line at .241/.277/.337. His career average is now .290 with a .329 OBP. On Sunday he committed his 10th error of the season.

Junior Lake's slash line in Iowa: .383/.434/.489.

It's time.

The Legend of Dioner Navarro: Left two on-base in his only pinch-hit attempt of the week; went 2-for-11 as a starter.

Welington Castillo, by the way, has a .313 OBP. And yet, Dale says he's nearly an elite catcher.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana still has his OBP up to .351 at Reno. He's getting it done, people!

Bullpen Bullshit: Um, wow.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Boy Geniuses are trading lower as The Plan is increasingly called into question.

Sveum's Shadow: Dale Sveum's Five O'Clock Shadow moves to 10 p.m. upon the realization that showcasing Carlos Marmol for a trade is not a viable strategy. Also, Dale cut himself with the razor. He says it was an accident.

Shark Tank: The story remains the same with Jeff Samardzija, who struck out six in six innings on Thursday on 116 pitches. He also gave up five earned runs and 10 hits. This is not progress.

Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of Junior Lake starting at shortstop.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Starts until Matt Garza is hurt again: 1. Unless you count emotionally; then it just happened.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs will be even worse after the trading deadline.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 PM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Replace The Bun And Stack It High

1. Oh, Canada.

"It started as a joke, but a Wendy's in Canada eventually began selling the nine-patty monstrosity known as the 'T-rex' burger for real," Gawker reports.

And then this happened:


C'mon, Wendy's. The T-Rex! Make it part of a family pack! Let's reward innovation, not stifle it.


2. McDonald's Also Has T-Rex News.

"McDonald's Singapore is selling a 'Durian Crunch McFlurry' that combines soft-serve ice-cream with everyone's favorite stinkily delicious T-Rex-testicle-looking fruit," Boing Boing reports.

Singapore bloggers Donald and Cathy explain:

Regarded by many people in Southeast Asia as the "king of fruits," the durian is known for it's strong pungent odor.

The fruit has a very distinct odor that is strong and penetrating even when the shell is intact. We have not tasted it yet, but we have come to recognize the smell. You can identify it a mile away. It truly is hard to describe . . . a sweet, gross, stinky smell like a very overripe piece of fruit or leaking gas.


Should've gone with a nine-patty Big Mac.


3. Joe Rex.

"Take a long, deep breath and look out on the bountiful expanse, for we are at the top of this roller-coaster ride we call America," Gawker reports.

"Our apex comes in the form of the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe, and though our swift decline will accompany a deep rumble in our bowels, we should have no regrets. This is what we were always meant for."

And how:


Now just stack it nine-high.


4. Jack Rex.

"Jack In the Box recently unveiled the 'Big Waffle Stack,' in which two 'lightly sweetened, toasted maple waffles' take the place of the bun," Huffington Post the reports.


So the trend is Bun Replacement. Adjust your portfolio accordingly.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 PM | Permalink

Bank Of America Lied To Homeowners And Rewarded Foreclosures, Former Employees Say

Bank of America employees regularly lied to homeowners seeking loan modifications, denied their applications for made-up reasons, and were rewarded for sending homeowners to foreclosure, according to sworn statements by former bank employees.

The employee statements were filed in federal court in Boston as part of a multi-state class action suit brought on behalf of homeowners who sought to avoid foreclosure through the government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) but say they had their cases botched by Bank of America.

In a statement, a Bank of America spokesman said that each of the former employees' statements is "rife with factual inaccuracies" and that the bank will respond more fully in court next month. He said that Bank of America had modified more loans than any other bank and continues to "demonstrate our commitment to assisting customers who are at risk of foreclosure."

Six of the former employees worked for the bank, while one worked for a contractor. They range from former managers to front-line employees, and all dealt with homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure through the government's program.

When the Obama administration launched HAMP in 2009, Bank of America was by far the largest mortgage servicer in the program. It had twice as many loans eligible as the next largest bank. The former employees say that, in response to this crush of struggling homeowners, the bank often misled them and denied applications for bogus reasons.

Sometimes, homeowners were simply denied en masse in a procedure called a "blitz," said William Wilson, Jr., who worked as an underwriter and manager from 2010 until 2012.

As part of the modification applications, homeowners were required to send in documents with their financial information. About twice a month, Wilson said, the bank ordered that all files with documentation 60 or more days old simply be denied.

"During a blitz, a single team would decline between 600 and 1,500 modification files at a time," he said in the sworn declaration.

To justify the denials, employees produced fictitious reasons, for instance saying the homeowner had not sent in the required documents, when in actuality, they had.

Such mass denials may have occurred at other mortgage servicers.

Chris Wyatt, a former employee of Goldman Sachs subsidiary Litton Loan Servicing, told ProPublica in 2012 that the company periodically conducted "denial sweeps" to reduce the backlog of homeowners.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs said at the time that the company disagreed with Wyatt's account but offered no specifics.

Five of the former Bank of America employees stated that they were encouraged to mislead customers.

"We were told to lie to customers and claim that Bank of America had not received documents it had requested," said Simone Gordon, who worked at the bank from 2007 until early 2012 as a senior collector.

"We were told that admitting that the Bank received documents 'would open a can of worms,'" she said, since the bank was required to underwrite applications within 30 days of receiving documents and didn't have adequate staff.

Wilson said each underwriter commonly had 400 outstanding applications awaiting review.

Anxious homeowners calling in for an update on their application were frequently told that their applications were "under review" when, in fact, nothing had been done in months, or the application had already been denied, four former employees said.

Employees were rewarded for denying applications and referring customers to foreclosure, according to the statements.

Gordon said collectors "who placed 10 or more accounts into foreclosure in a given month received a $500 bonus."

Other rewards included gift cards to retail stores or restaurants, said Gordon and Theresa Terrelonge, who worked as a collector from 2009 until 2010.

This is certainly not the first time the bank has faced such allegations.

In 2010, Arizona and Nevada sued Bank of America for mishandling modification applications.

Last year, Bank of America settled a lawsuit brought by a former employee of a bank contractor who accused the bank of mishandling HAMP applications.

The bank has also settled two major actions by the federal government related to its foreclosure practices. In early 2012, 49 state attorneys general and the federal government crafted a settlement that, among other things, provided cash payments to Bank of America borrowers who had lost their home to foreclosure. Authorities recently began mailing out those checks of about $1,480 for each homeowner.

Earlier this year, federal bank regulators arrived at a settlement that also resulted in payments to affected borrowers, though most received $500 or less.

The lawsuit with the explosive new declarations from former employees is a consolidation of 29 separate suits against the bank from across the country and is seeking class action certification. It covers homeowners who received a trial modification, made all of their required payments, but who did not get a timely answer from the bank on whether they'd receive a permanent modification.

Under HAMP, the trial period was supposed to last three months, but frequently dragged on for much longer, particularly during the height of the foreclosure crisis in 2009 and 2010.

ProPublica began detailing the failures of HAMP from the start of the program in 2009.

HAMP turned out to be a perfect storm created by banks that refused to adequately fund their mortgage servicing operations and lax government oversight.

Bank of America was far slower to modify loans than other servicers, as other analyses we've cited have shown.

A study last year found that about 800,000 homeowners would have qualified for HAMP if Bank of America and the other largest servicers had done an adequate job of handling homeowner applications.


* Obama Housing Plans vs. Reality

* Will Mortgage Settlement Avoid Repeating Obama's Foreclosure Failures?

* Why Millions Won't Get Help From Obama's Big Mortgage Settlement

* Secret Documents Show Weak Oversight Of Key Foreclosure Program


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:40 AM | Permalink

Game 2 Of The Stanley Cup Finals Was Just The Latest Chapter In Comcast Sucks

To wit:



















See also: Thank You, Comcast, May I Have Another?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:18 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Man or Astro-man? at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.


2. Threshold of Feeling at Livewire on Saturday night.


3. Solkon at Reggies on Friday night.


4. Jacuzzi Boys at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.


5. Jack Oblivian at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.


6. Substance at Reggies on Friday night.


7. Nones at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.


8. Dr. John at Blues on Fox in Aurora on Friday night.


9. Talisman at the Romanian Heritage Festival in Niles on Sunday night.


10. Calvin Harris at the Spring Awakening Festival at Soldier Field on Sunday night.


11. Krewella at Spring Awakening on Sunday.


12. Excision at Spring Awakening on Sunday night.


13. Bassnectar at Spring Awakening on Saturday night.


14. Moby at Spring Awakening on Friday night.


15. Zeds Dead at Spring Awakening on Saturday night.


16. Gramatik at Spring Awakening on Saturday.


17. Nero at Spring Awakening on Saturday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

Ovah And Out

The White Sox got lucky Saturday night.

Sure, they lost again on the road to the awful Houston Astros. And the game's final play set a Sox 2013 "first" when it comes to unique and sad maneuvers to close out all hope in yet another one-run loss. Pinch runner Jordan Danks, representing the tying run, got himself picked off second base by closer Jose Veras to end the 4-3 game.

So what's lucky about that?

At least no one was watching.

Danks picked a fortuitous time to lose his concentration. Just as he was being called out, the Blackhawks and Bruins were heading toward overtime in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. So Danks and his mates were able to blow another one in virtual anonymity.

The team wasn't as fortunate on Friday night as Chris Sale hurled a complete game, fanned 14 without yielding an earned run, yet was tagged with the 2-1 loss. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez, one of the more sure-handed performers on a woefully-weak defensive team, committed not one, but two, errors in the fatal fifth inning leading to both Houston runs.

Sadly the Hawks and Bruins were resting Friday so those masochists among us missed no hockey excitement if we were inclined to sneak a peek at the sinking USS White Sox. They now are a season-worst ten games below .500. They have won just one of their last 13 road games. Closer Addison Reed was one strike away from nailing down a 5-4 win last Tuesday - at home no less - against Toronto when Jose Bautista knocked a high, floating breaking pitch into the seats to tie the game which the Jays won in the tenth inning, 7-5.

Wednesday's game was postponed because of predictions - they turned out to be false - of dangerous weather heading toward the Cell. Rumors were the team threw a victory party in the clubhouse, although in all fairness, the guys might have been relieved that they could then watch the Stanley Cup opener without distraction.

While witnessing these distressing events, I noticed last week that the Seattle Mariners made a personnel move, calling up catcher Mike Zunino from Triple-A Tacoma. Zunino is a guy I saw play in the College World Series a year ago after the Mariners made him their top draft choice out of the University of Florida.

Talking to a Mariner scout at the time, he said, Zunino "has the skills offensively and defensively [and] a chance to hit home runs. He's a solid character guy, the type of guy you want to add to your organization especially when you're a last place team like we are."

Skip ahead one year, and here is Zunino is the big leagues where he enjoyed a productive first week with a few hits including his first home run.

Meanwhile, now it's the Sox who are a last-place team, and they clearly need help. But it's not going to happen.

Perusing their minor league rosters, the one guy who may be ready to join the big club could be Josh Phegley, a catcher at Charlotte, who's hitting .314 with 12 homers and 35 RBI. Even more promising is the fact that he strikes out about once every six at-bats.

However, Phegley, who played college ball at Indiana, is going nowhere. A first-round draft choice in 2009, he's now 25 years old, and the Sox are committed to Tyler Flowers, who waited patiently until the team could bid adieu to A.J. Pierzynski. After 66 games they're not about to give up on Flowers despite his .220 average, frequent strikeouts (about a third of his at-bats), seven passed balls, and difficulty blocking low pitches.

From 1987 to 1989, the White Sox's top draft choices were Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura and Frank Thomas. As Hawk would say, those days are "ovah."

So far Chris Sale (2010) is the one top draft pick to pan out since 2009, when the Sox picked both Phegley and LSU's Jared Mitchell in the first round. Mitchell has been a bust so far bouncing between AA and AAA. Right now he's hitting .132 at Charlotte.

Then there was Keenyn Walker in 2011. An outfielder out of Central Arizona Junior College, he's playing at Birmingham, where he's hitting .213 with a lone home run.

Last year, high-schooler Courtney Hawkins was the heralded first choice. Hawkins has raw power. At Single-A Winston-Salem this season, he's smacked 13 homers and driven home 33 runs. But he's also whiffed 75 times in only 141 at-bats and is hitting .199. Sound familiar?

So far this season, most of the help - or shall we say roster moves? - has focused on pitching, as guys like Brian Omogrosso, Donnie Veal and Deunte Heath have bounced between the minor leagues and the Sox, while Ramon Troncoso is presently on the South Side. The aforementioned baserunning specialist Jordan Danks has been up and down, while Blake Tekotte made a brief appearance and now is back in Charlotte where he's hitting .216.

So the cupboard appears to be strikingly bare, although every now and then a lower draft choice - Albert Pujols, for instance, went in the 13th round - pays unexpected dividends. The White Sox have a ninth-round choice from last year, Micah Johnson, a second baseman at Kannapolis in the South Atlantic League, who's hitting .339 with an OBP of .422. I daresay this will be the only paragraph in history where Johnson is mentioned with Albert Pujols.

However, even imagining a super-phenom arriving on the scene, how much of a difference would he make? Yasiel Puig is the present-day Natural, being recalled 13 games ago by the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers. His numbers are truly other-worldly: a .479 batting average, four homers including a grand slam, 10 RBI, and two outfield assists on throws that revive the memory of Roberto Clemente. The opposition already has shown great respect by pitching him inside and hitting him once.

And how have the Dodgers fared in those 13 games? Just six victories as the team limps along in last place, 5 1/2 games behind fourth-place San Diego.

So help is not on the horizon. As Sox fans, we are well aware of the cards in the deck. My eyes rolled last week when the team sent out an e-mail blast telling us to vote for a slew of Sox players for the All-Star team. Jesse Crain would be the only legitimate candidate, and we can't vote for pitchers.

However, right now things could be a lot worse. Just think if we couldn't watch the Blackhawks. Now that would be truly depressing.


Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

June 16, 2013

Tyler Seguin Was Mic'd Up For His Game-Winning Overtime Assist And Other News From Game 2

"The Boston Bruins were on the ice in the first period Saturday night, but they weren't exactly skating at the same frenetic, fantastic pace as the Chicago Blackhawks," Dan Rosen writes for

"It looked like they had more guys out there than we did," Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said. "They were pouncing on every single puck in front of net, had a lot of chances. We definitely played pretty bad. But, you know, it was good that we were only down by one and regrouped after that."

"Rask made 18 saves in the first period to keep Boston in the game. The Bruins slowed the pace and established the style they wanted to play in the second period before winning 2-1 in overtime in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at United Center.

"The Bruins tied the game on Chris Kelly's first goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs late in the second and kept it that way into overtime, when they had several dangerous chances before Daniel Paille finally won it with a shot from the left side at 13:48."

The NHL didn't have Paille mic'd like they had Andrew Shaw the other night, but they did have Tyler Seguin mic'd, and he got the assist on the game-winning goal.

And what a game it was for Seguin.

"For a couple of anxious, hand-wringing days, Bruins fans wondered if Tyler Seguin could deliver the postseason goods if, as went the assuming, he was going to skate with David Krejci and Milan Lucic as a replacement for the injured Nathan Horton," Steve Buckley writes for the Boston Herald.

"But in the real world of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals last night at Chicago's United Center, Nathan Horton wound up playing. And Seguin wound up darting about on a line with Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly.

"And guess what: Seguin emerged as a leader on so many levels.

Did he score a goal last night?


Did he play a key role in the Bruins' thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over the Blackhawks to square this series at one won apiece?

That's absolutely, positively what Tyler Seguin did.

On the game-winner, netted by Paille at the 13:48 mark of the first overtime period - sorry, only one this time - it was Seguin who set things up with a pass across the ice in front of Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford.

And on the game-tying goal, netted by Chris Kelly at 14:58 of the second period, it was Seguin (though he didn't get credited with an assist) who bumped Patrick Sharp off the puck behind the net, thus creating an opportunity for Paille to take it out front.

One assist. One brilliant display of aggressiveness. All this on a night when the Bruins were so thoroughly, embarrassingly outplayed in the first period that it was a Miracle on Ice that the Blackhawks led only 1-0.

Given the leadership Tyler Seguin displayed last night, let's have him take us through all that.

Click through for that.


Corey's Story
"Corey Crawford barely broke a sweat during a lopsided first period, but made some big stops with his glove as the Bruins got their legs moving," Allan Muir writes for

"There wasn't much he could do on Boston's first goal, an ugly but effective net crash by Chris Kelly, but there was a play to be made on Daniel Paille's OT winner.

"Crawford moved across his crease effectively, but failed to track the puck as it came off Paille's stick, allowing it to beat him far side under the arm.

"At that point of the game, Crawford has to make that stop."

Here's what it looked like from Crawford's point of view:


Blackhawks Revelation
Glenn Beck wearing a Blackhawks hat is surely a sign that the end is near.

(Via Pat Cunningham, Rockford Register Star)


Jonathan Toews Explains It All
Expert analysis.


Twitter Titter


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:03 AM | Permalink

June 15, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Geez, the greed and ambition of some people is downright transparent.

Market Update
Turns out teenagers aren't entirely worthless. Some are just more worth-full than others.

What's In A Name?
So a prominent Chicagoan stands accused of using misleading labels to soak unsuspecting patrons? Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

All Without The Benjamins
So . . . you can stop paying all your bills because you have no money and still "avoid bankruptcy?" STFU! No wonder everyone in Springfield is so gosh-darn confused.

Prison Break
So prison isn't exactly the Mayo Clinic? STFU!


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: WTF FTW.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The family that plays together, stays together, or so the saying goes. And so in honor of Father's Day, Jim and Greg play music from their favorite family bands. Plus, they review yet another family effort: the new record from Americana act The Handsome Family."


The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: The Saucer is on its annual weeklong summer hiatus; it re-opens on Tuesday.


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

Illinois Fiscal Symposium


State Senate President John J. Cullerton, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, and other Illinois officials weigh in on the state's $97 billion pension liability and other major budgetary problems.

Sunday at 9 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Watch online


Butterfly Poetry Project Presents: Dr. Luzma Umpierre Herrera


Puerto Rican poet, activist and humanitarian Dr. Luzma Umpierre Herrera reads from her new book, I'm Still Standing: Thirty Years of Poetry, which highlights her life's work in the areas of immigration, LGBT advocacy, and Latino Studies.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.


Emerging Thailand: The Spirit of Small Enterprise


From rubber farmers to silk growers, Emerging Thailand is an intimate portrait of the small businesses and village economies fueling Thailand's economic growth. Former University of Chicago economist Robert Townsend, a central figure of the documentary now at MIT, answers questions about his work tracking the growth of these communities over a 15-year period.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.


CAN TV Complete Coverage: 7th Annual Chicago African Summit

This forum brings together experts, legislators and community members to engage in constructive dialogue about Africa and the Diaspora and to highlight available resources including legal assistance, employment, health and more.

Immigration & Refugee Policies


Advocates and legal experts discuss legal issues facing immigrants and refugees. Panelists include: Fred Tsao, IL Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (ICIRR); Linus Chan, DePaul; Laura Lonneman, Refugee One; and lawyer Ebere Ekechukwu.

Sunday at noon on CAN TV21.


Healthcare Reform


Health experts define the impact of the Affordable Care Act and other changes on the immigrant community. Panelists include: Fasika Alem, University of Illinois at Chicago; Laura Leon, Campaign for Better Health Care; and Kathy Chan, Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition.

Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.


Organizing African Immigrants & Refugees


Political experts and representatives from African organizations examine whether protests and other direct actions can be used to advance the interests of the African community and protect their rights. Panelists include: Ngozi Nmezi, DC Mayor's Office, and Alie Kabba, UAO.

Sunday at 3 p.m. on CAN TV21.


Grady's Notebook: Saluting Fathers


The founder of Fathers Who Care, Walter Jones, with Water Reclamation Commissioner Frank Avila and his son attorney Frank Avila, Jr., talking about the role of fathers in the family.

Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on CAN TV19.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:13 AM | Permalink

June 14, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"The Chicago Teachers Union charged Thursday that school budgets for the coming school year are down between 10 percent and 25 percent compared to this year, and that new positions provided as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's signature longer school day initiative will likely be the first to be cut," Catalyst reports.

That's okay. Rahm just wanted to issue the press release, make the announcement and get the headlines. Now it's time to move forward, not look back.


Rahm reminds me sometimes of the dudes in Swingers - particularly this scene:

WAITRESS: There you two are. I walked around for an hour with that stupid martini on my tray.

MIKE: Sorry. We got knocked out pretty quickly.

CHRISTY: A couple of high rollers like you?

MIKE: Could you believe it?

CHRISTY: Wait here, I'll get you that martini.

MIKE: Nah, I didn't really want it anyway. I just wanted to order it.


Back to Catalyst:

"In a statement, CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the union's allegations are disappointing and not accurate.

"'CPS has cut more than $600 million from the central office, so we can preserve every precious dollar in the classroom for our children,' she said in the statement. 'It is my hope that as we finish this school year and prepare to begin another that the CTU will work with us and can contribute to real solutions to the financial crisis facing our schools. Our students deserve no less.'

"Most of the $600 million in cuts in central office predated the Rahm Emanuel administration and, in fact, the amount spent on central office staff increased this year."

In other words, she's lying again.

Funny how every statement coming out of CPS seems to be followed by a corrective that begins "In fact . . . "


"CPS spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said the school-level budgets are preliminary and the district doesn't want to share any specifics until budgets are final. Yet, technically the budgets won't be final until the board approves the entire district budget in late August. Well before then, CPS must publish budget information and hold hearings."

Paging Nancy Pelosi!

"Quinn downplayed the decreases. 'Every year there are increases and decreases in school budgets due to things like enrollment, number of students that are under the poverty line, etc.,' she said in an e-mail.

"But principals say they were told at meetings led by top officials that their budgets are shrinking due to the district's $600 million pension bill, which is driving a projected $1 billion budget deficit."

Well, who are you going to believe, a CPS spokesperson or actual principals receiving marching orders?

"Plus, changes in enrollment or the number of poor students would not cause drastic shifts in school budgets. In fact, one North Side principal said that he is projected to get 40 more students, yet his budget did not increase at all."

CPS officials should no longer be allowed to speak without being strapped to a polygraph.


"Public schools across Chicago are seeing budget cuts that could force layoffs, increased class sizes and more reductions to specialty programs, like art and music," WBEZ reports.

"'We lost $468,000 in funding and we are slated to lose about four positions and this would mean split classrooms and for the first time, possibly, overcrowding,' said Nellie Cotton, an LSC member and parent of two students at Grimes-Fleming Elementary on the city's Southwest Side.

"Grimes-Fleming is not the only school seeing cuts. A teacher at Roosevelt High School confirmed a $1.1 million decrease in the school's budget, Lincoln Park High School reported a drop of about $1 million and Goethe Elementary is slated for about $265,000 less. Teachers at Von Steuben High School said they weren't sure exactly how much their budget decreased, but had been told they may no longer have a librarian, a writing center or an administrator to deal with discipline issues."

Byrd-Bennett must be disappointed that parents, teachers, principals and the media continue to propagate such obvious falsehoods. Is she the only one who cares about the children enough to see that five minus three equals eight?


"Last week, CPS officials announced how much schools would get per student, which turned out to be less than what pilot and charter schools were getting this year."

There's so many shells in this game I can't help but wonder who has the shell contract.


CPS says a new funding formula will give principals "unprecedented control" over their budgets, but what the new formula really appears to do is to transfer blame down the line for decisions made up the line. Hey, it's your budget! You designed it! We just sent you the money.

It's like slashing a newsroom budget in half and then telling an editor they can spend their remaining lot any way they want; if they lay off reporters, well, that's their choice, not management's!


CPS flak-in-chief Becky Carroll told WBEZ "definitively" that budgets would go up at buildings receiving kids from schools that are being closed, as promised. Which means iPads and learning gardens for some, overflowing classrooms and no more art teachers at others.


"Joann Krueger, a parent and Local School Council member at Kennedy High School, was aware of a 14 percent cut from nearly $15 million at the Garfield Ridge high school serving nearly 1,450 students, to about $12.85 million - but wouldn't find out until a meeting Tuesday how the details would play out," the Sun-Times reports.

"'We were just told about the reduction, and he's sick about it,' Krueger said of the school's principal. 'I know he was extremely upset about it, especially nowadays, so close to the end of he school year to get that budget that's usually passed by the end of May.'"


"As Chicago Public Schools across the city are learning the grim details of their budget situation for next year, parent groups and education advocates are launching an effort to try to get the city to divert more money to the school system," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"Nearly 50 parents and education advocates gathered Wednesday night at Hamlin Park for a meeting organized by Raise Your Hand and led by that group's executive director Wendy Katten.

They started with a roll call of school-by-school budget losses: Mitchell Elementary, down $780,000; Alcott School, down $700,000; Pritzker, down $186,000; Goethe, down $275,000; Beasley, down $550,000; Roosevelt High School, down $1 million; Gage Park High School, down $1 million.

Mitchell parent Janet Meegan said her school likely will have to eliminate its popular dance program, among other cuts. Joshua Freedland, chairman of the local school council at Jamieson Elementary, said his school was looking at being able to "afford $100,000 less stuff and also two less teachers."

Sherise McDaniel and Shereena Allison, who were instrumental in the fight to save Manierre Elementary from CPS' closing list, reported their victory was short-lived: The school looks set to lose four positions next year.

"'Our schools just got slammed,' Katten said of CPS' decision to shutter 50 schools. 'No, our schools can't function with less teachers.'"


Raise Your Hand has been collected - and distributing - reports coming in from schools all over the city on its Twitter feed.


The Week In Chicago Rock
Including: Ke$ha, Glen Hansard, Dirty Projectors, The Bats, Bombino, The Frames, Chvrches, and Mikal Cronin.

Intervention Goes Where Time Fears To Tread
The sad streets of the West Side.

The Softer Side Of Harry The Hit Man
In Local Book Notes, along with your embarrassing diary entries, a skateboard-riding hamster, Rudyard Kipling hating on Chicago, and the perks of banning books.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
Two dads.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Dress yourself to kill.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:30 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Harry The Hit Man's Soft Side

1. Harry The Hit Man Apparently Had Another Side That We Should All Appreciate.

"In the history of organized crime in Chicago, few were feared as much as Harry 'The Hitman' Aleman," NBC Chicago reports.

"Federal authorities believe his body count is 18 or higher."




"Aleman died in prison a little more than two years ago. Now his step-daughter, Franky Forliano, is writing a book she says will show her father's other side.

"In an interview at her west suburban townhome, Forliano talked about the unapologetic tribute to father."


Here's the report:


2. Go On, Embarrass Yourself.

"HEAVEmedia is proud to support a unique reading series in Chicago, promoting the embarrassing memories chronicled in our personal journals.

"Running since December 2012, Permanent Records is a monthly reading night dedicated to the beautiful embarrassment of youth.

"The format of this series is open; anyone brave enough to dig into the archives of their LiveJournal account can join in. Speakers are encouraged to bring blog posts, journals, notes, creative rememberings, old songs, poems and any other sundry items to share with the audience. From funny to touching to cringingly awkward, Permanent Records is all about looking back."


This sounds like a project for the daughter of a hit man.


"HEAVEmedia features editor Dominick Mayer hosts this event at Uncharted Books.

"The event is BYOB, and any interested speakers can bring their materials to read that night. No sign-up needed! Speakers and audience members are encourage to arrive at 7, and readings will start at 7:30 pm.

"More information about the event can be found on the official Facebook event page.


3. Kenn For Kids.

"The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce that poet Kenn Nesbitt will serve as the next Children's Poet Laureate: Consultant in Children's Poetry to the Poetry Foundation. In awarding the $25,000 cash prize and two-year title, the Poetry Foundation aims to raise awareness that children have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.

"Kenn Nesbitt, 51, is the author of numerous books of poetry for children, including The Tighty-Whitey Spider (2010), My Hippo Has the Hiccups (2009), and Revenge of the Lunch Ladies (2007).

"His books abound with humorous and silly situations, and his poems have appeared in hundreds of anthologies, magazines, and textbooks worldwide.

"His poems have also been adapted to other media, including music and film. Nesbitt wrote his first children's poem, 'Scrawny Tawny Skinner,' in 1994, and published his first poetry book, My Foot Fell Asleep, in 1998.

"Nesbitt succeeds J. Patrick Lewis to become the fourth Children's Poet Laureate, and the youngest ever to hold the title."


Some Nesbitt:

My Pet Germs.


My Hamster Has A Skateboard.


2012 Interview.


4. Rudyard Kipling Hated Chicago.


5. The Perks Of Banning Books.

They return with a vengeance.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:50 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day




dadsonafterschoolpol.JPG(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)


* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts


More Chicago photos from Helene Smith on Etsy.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

Intervention Goes Where Time Magazine Fears To Tread

The final season of Intervention opened on Thursday night with a typically gripping and difficult tale straight out of the West Side of Chicago.

"Jessica is smart as tack with a lust for life. Unfortunately, it's the life of a heroin addict, living in an abandoned building, being shot up by a boyfriend, that she is committed to. Having spent her youth yearning for an absent, alcoholic father, Jessica followed the footprint of addiction left to her by her father, and now her own children are at risk of loosing their mother."

You can only catch glimpses in this preview, but Chicago gets something of a close-up in this episode. Future airings are guaranteed, but not yet scheduled.


Bonus clip:


Intervention has been serious, important and emotionally wrenching TV - and in some ways it's even been journalism. I'm sorry to hear that this is the show's last season, and I encourage everyone who hasn't seen it to do so.


See also:
* Intervention Episode Guide


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:38 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Ke$ha in Tinley Park on Sunday night.


2. Bombino at Martyr's on Sunday night.


3. Glen Hansard at Millennium Park on Monday night.


4. The Frames at Millennium Park on Monday night.


5. The Bats at Laurie's Planet of Sound on Sunday afternoon. . .

. . . and at Schubas on Sunday night.


6. Dirty Projectors at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.


7. Chvrches at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.


8. Mikal Cronin at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:46 AM | Permalink

June 13, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

The column will be delayed today and it has nothing to do with staying up late to watch the Blackhawks. If only! Business beckons.

In the meantime:

* At Least Half Of The Replacements Are Reuniting And Playing Chicago's Riot Fest.

We've got the news plus highlights of the band's previous and infamous visits to Chicago.

* Still Waiting For The Most Overhyped Storm In History.

Proposed WGN Morning News bit: Send Skilling to reimburse this dude, who bought the last generator at Lowe's.

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

The 30,000-page case file remains wrapped in secrecy, but it's pretty clear that NSA snooping had very little if anything to do with it.

* Andrew Shaw Was Mic'd Up For His Triple-Overtime Winner And Other Game 1 Highlights.

Hear the raw audio.

* The rest of the day's news starts here.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Within your reach.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:00 AM | Permalink

Still Waiting For The Most Overhyped Storm In History

"Baseball-sized hail and tornadoes were promised and all we got was some weird clouds, rain and pebble-sized hail. BIG DEAL! Brant Miller and Tom Skilling Lied To Me."


The dude bought the last generator at Lowe's, for godsake.


"Although the National Weather Service logged reports of a funnel cloud in Will County and a possible tornado touchdown west of Chicago, most of the metropolitan area was spared from severe storms," WLS-AM reports.

(And 6,800 ComEd customers without electricity? That's just another day in Chicago.)

"The Chicago area didn't get hit because the cool air off Lake Michigan weakened the hot moist air that fuels thunderstorms," said National Weather Service meteorologist Ben Deubelbeiss.

"Closer to Chicago, nickel-size hail was reported in Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates."

Nickels. In Schaumburg. Reportedly.


And was this really necessary?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:28 AM | Permalink

Andrew Shaw Was Mic'd Up For His Triple-Overtime Winner And Other News From Game 1

"It was past the midway point of the third overtime,"'s Dan Rosen writes.

"Wednesday night was turning into Thursday morning. Legs were wobbly, mental toughness was being challenged and physical exhaustion was the norm.

"The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins had to fight through it all to determine a winner in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Both sides figured it was going to take one of those greasy, dirty goals to end the night at United Center.

"It wasn't going to be a pretty one," Blackhawks center Dave Bolland said.

"He was right - and it came off the leg of a guy who typically scores ugly goals.

Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw scored a double-deflection goal off his right leg 12:08 into the third overtime to give Chicago a come-from-behind 4-3 win in triple overtime to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series."

Raw audio:


"Game 1 proved to be a match for the ages," Jeff Z. Klein writes for the New York Times.

"Beginning on Wednesday night, the contest did not end until 1 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, when a shot by the Blackhawks' Michal Rozsival was deflected first by the stick of Dave Bolland, then by the knee of Andrew Shaw, and sailed past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask at 12 minutes 8 seconds of the third overtime period. Shaw's goal gave Chicago a 4-3 victory.

"It was the longest game of the 2013 season, and the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup finals history. The game's time of 112:08 fell just short of the 113:50 of Game 3 of the 1931 finals, when the Blackhawks beat the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1."

More stats:

"Joel Quenneville, the Chicago coach, pointed out that the teams played almost two full games, and the statistics showed it. Rask stopped 59 of 63 shots, and Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford turned aside 51 of 54 shots. In all, the Blackhawks attempted 132 shots to Boston's 85.

"The Bruins blocked 40 Chicago shots, led by defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, with 9, and Andrew Ference, with 8. Ference had a game-high 10 hits, while three Blackhawks had nine apiece. Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith led all skaters with 48:40 of ice time, and Seidenberg was next at 48:36.

"Chicago forward Marian Hossa led all shooters with 10 shots on goal, followed by the Chicago rookie Brandon Saad, who had nine. The teams took 114 face-offs, with the Bruins winning 58 and the Blackhawks winning 56. The exhausted Blackhawks took two penalties during overtime for too many men on the ice."


See also:

ESPNBoston: Bruins Let Hawks Off Hook In Game 1.

Tribune: Crawford Comes Up Big In Overtime.

ESPNChicago: Hawks' Depth Players Make The Difference.



Mick Jagger Supports The Blackhawks.

Mick Jagger Is Rooting For The Bruins.

Next week he'll be rooting for the Flyers.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

At Least Half Of The Replacements Are Reuniting And Playing Chicago's Riot Fest

"Over the past year or so, fans of the Replacements have seen more collaborative activity from the principal members than there has been in quite some time," Reed Fischer wrote for City Pages, the Minneapolis weekly, last night.

"The Songs for Slim EP project reminded us what it's like to hear a band powered by Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and a few close friends, and it turned up the amps on the 'what if' scenarios that have floated around for the past two decades since the band broke things off in 1991.

"Today, reports coming from folks close to Riot Fest, happening September 13-15 in Chicago, suggest that the 13 question marks on the poster just below Fall Out Boy and Blink-182 stand for 'Replacements,' a word that is admittedly is only 12 letters long."

Perfect. Plus, the reports turned out to be true.

The Replacements final show - until now - was in Grant Park in 1991. It ended with the roadies playing. Here's the audio of the whole thing followed by some other Chicago highlights of yore.


WXRT interview 1987.


Within Your Reach 1991 - London, Paris, Chicago.


At the Metro 1985.


At the Cubby Bear 1984.


"I'll Be You," from It's Not Over 'Til The Fat Roadies Play.


From Greg Kot's review in the Tribune about that last, final show:

"It wasn't a particularly great performance, but it may prove to be a historic one.

"Certainly, the Replacements have given better shows than the one they played Thursday at Grant Park before a crowd numbering in the tens of thousands, the musical finale of Taste of Chicago.

"But as the concert stumbled to a close, it became apparent that one of the best American bands to emerge in the 1980s was probably playing together for the last time. During the Memphis soul-styled 'Can't Hardly Wait,' guitarist Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson - the two surviving original members of the band - exchanged smiles as they bawled, 'I can't wait.' And they couldn't wait - to get off the stage, that is - and the two ran off a few seconds later.

"For the encore, Westerberg attempted to play drums, drummer Steve Foley fumbled through a guitar solo, and Stinson handled a rare lead vocal on 'Hootenanny.'

"'It's the fucking last time you'll ever hear it,' the spike-haired bassist crowed. Then, as the band members left the stage one by one, they handed their instruments to their road crew, who proceeded to finish the song in at least as professional fashion as the band began it."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

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

Defending a vast program to sweep up phone and Internet data under antiterror laws, senior U.S. officials in recent days have cited the case of David Coleman Headley, a key plotter in the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said a data collection program by the National Security Agency helped stop an attack on a Danish newspaper for which Headley did surveillance. And Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Senate intelligence chairwoman, also called Headley's capture a success.

But a closer examination of the case, drawn from extensive reporting by ProPublica, shows that the government surveillance only caught up with Headley after the U.S. had been tipped by British intelligence. And even that victory came after seven years in which U.S. intelligence failed to stop Headley as he roamed the globe on missions for Islamic terror networks and Pakistan's spy agency.

Supporters of the sweeping U.S. surveillance effort say it's needed to build a haystack of information in which to find a needle that will stop a terrorist. In Headley's case, however, it appears the U.S. was handed the needle first - and then deployed surveillance that led to the arrest and prosecution of Headley and other plotters.

As ProPublica has previously documented, Headley's case shows an alarming litany of breakdowns in the U.S. counterterror system that allowed him to play a central role in the massacre of 166 people in Mumbai, among them six Americans.

A mysterious Pakistani-American businessman and ex-drug informant, Headley avoided arrest despite a half-dozen warnings to federal agents about extremist activities from his family and associates in different locales. If those leads from human sources had been investigated more aggressively, authorities could have prevented the Mumbai attacks with little need for high-tech resources, critics say.

"The failure here is the failure to connect systems," said a U.S. law enforcement official who worked on the case but is not cleared to discuss it publicly. "Everybody had information in their silos, and they didn't share across the silos. Headley in my mind is not a successful interdiction of a terrorist. It's not a great example of how the system should work."

Officials from Clapper's office reiterated this week that he was referring to the prevention of Headley's follow-up role in a Mumbai-style attack against Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper, a prime target because it published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that many Muslims found offensive. To that extent, Clapper's comment shed a bit of new light on this aspect of a labyrinthine case.

Separately Wednesday, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander told a Senate committee that surveillance conducted by his agency helped disrupt "dozens" of attacks aimed at the U.S. and elsewhere. According to the Washington Post, Alexander cited the Headley case and promised to make more information public about the success of the NSA's phone surveillance program, which captures "metadata" such as number, time and location of but not the content of calls.

In January, a federal judge in Chicago imposed a 35-year prison sentence on Headley, 51, for his role in Mumbai and the foiled newspaper plot. He got a reduced sentence because he testified at the federal trial in Chicago of his accomplice, Tahawurr Rana, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Headley confessed to doing undercover surveillance in Mumbai for the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group and Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). U.S. officials also charged a major in the ISI with serving as Headley's handler before the attack in November 2008. Pakistan denies involvement.

In early 2009, according to trial testimony, Lashkar and the ISI sent Headley on a surveillance mission to Denmark. After he returned to Pakistan, his Lashkar and ISI handlers backed off. But Headley continued the plot with support from al-Qaeda, whose leaders wanted a team of gunmen to attack the newspaper offices in Copenhagen, take hostages and throw their severed heads out of the windows.

Headley returned to Europe from Chicago for a second reconnaissance mission that July. The official version has been that he was detected at this point - but not by U.S. agencies.

Instead, U.S. and European counterterror officials have told ProPublica in interviews that British intelligence learned of Headley's contact with al-Qaeda operatives near Manchester who were already under surveillance. Headley planned to meet with the extremists in hopes they would supply money, arms and personnel for the Denmark attack.

"Headley was an unknown until not long before his arrest," a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told ProPublica in 2010. "He came to light because of the British. They knew him only as 'David the American.' [The British] MI5 [security service] detected that he was in contact with a group in the U.K. that they were watching . . . David had made direct contact with two of the main targets of the U.K. investigation."

On July 23, 2009, the FBI asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection analysts in Washington, D.C., for assistance identifying a suspect who would travel shortly from Chicago via Frankfurt to Manchester, according to U.S. officials interviewed in 2011. The tip described a suspected American associate of Lashkar or al-Qaeda with only his first name, flight itinerary and the airline, officials said. The customs analysts identified Headley through their databases containing records of his previous travel and interviews by U.S. border inspectors.

Headley went on to Sweden and Denmark. Alerted by U.S. agencies, Danish intelligence officers followed him as he scouted targets in Copenhagen and tried to find sources for guns, according to court records and interviews with counterterror officials. In the United States, court-approved FBI surveillance continued after his return in August and until his arrest that October, according to counterterror officials and court records.

Officials in Clapper's office declined to comment on accounts of the British tip. But they said that information lawfully gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was integral to disrupting the attempted attacks on the Danish newspaper. This does not rule out other sources of information at other points in the investigation, the officials said.

Separately, the U.S. law enforcement official familiar with the case also said this week that a British communications intercept first detected Headley. Because the NSA works closely with its British counterparts, at that point U.S. intelligence agencies likely became involved in reviewing communications records to identify Headley and begin tracking his movements and associates, the official said.

"It was a communications intercept involving a bad guy in England," the law enforcement official said. "It was the Brits who passed us the info. Without knowing all the gritty technical details, [Clapper's depiction] definitely fits with my understanding."

The 30,000-page case file in Chicago remains wrapped in secrecy. Prosecutors have not said how investigators first detected Headley. Once he was under investigation by the Chicago field office of the FBI, agents intercepted his calls and e-mails and retrieved NSA intercepts of previous communications to build the case, according to court documents and ProPublica interviews. During questioning after his arrest, FBI agents confronted him with information from NSA intercepts as well as foreign intelligence agencies, the senior counterterror official said.

"What it may have allowed them to do is to go back and find e-mails and calls and map his movements," said Charles Swift, a lawyer for Rana, the Chicago accomplice.

Headley began cooperating after his arrest, turning over his computer and giving the FBI access to his e-mail accounts. Swift said he is not aware of anything in the case to suggest that the disputed NSA programs identified Headley, though he acknowledged that defense lawyers were not shown the government application for a warrant to monitor Headley under FISA.

Swift called the case a dramatic example of the limits of the U.S. counterterror system because both high-tech and human resources failed to prevent the Mumbai attacks.

"You have to know what you are looking for and what you are looking at," Swift said. "Headley's the classic example. They missed Mumbai completely."

The Headley case is also problematic because of his murky past.

The convicted drug smuggler radicalized and joined Lashkar in Pakistan in the late 1990s while spying on Pakistani heroin traffickers as a paid informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration. His associates first warned federal agencies about his Islamic extremism days after the Sept. 11 attacks. Investigators questioned him in front of his DEA handlers in New York, and he was cleared.

U.S. prosecutors then made the unusual decision to end Headley's probation for a drug conviction three years early. He then hurried to Pakistan and began training in Lashkar terror camps. Although the DEA insists he was deactivated in early 2002, some U.S., European and Indian officials suspect that he remained an informant in some capacity and that the DEA or another agency sent him to Pakistan to spy on terrorists. Those officials believe his status as an operative or former informant may have deflected subsequent FBI inquiries.

The FBI received new tips in 2002 and in 2005 when Headley's wife in New York had him arrested for domestic violence and told counterterror investigators about his radicalism and training in Pakistan. Inquiries were conducted, but he was not interviewed or placed on a watch list, officials have said.

Headley was recruited in 2006 by ISI officers, who with Lashkar oversaw his missions, according to Headley's trial testimony and other court records.

In late 2007 and early 2008, another wife told U.S. embassy officials in Islamabad that Headley was a terrorist and a spy, describing his frequent trips to Mumbai and his stay at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. In fact, Headley was conducting meticulous surveillance on the Taj and other targets for an impending attack by a seaborne squad of gunmen.

Once again, U.S. agencies say they did not question or monitor him because the information from the wife was not specific enough.

Senior Indian officials believe the U.S. government did not need high-tech resources to spot Headley. They have alleged publicly that he was a U.S. double agent all along. U.S. officials strenuously deny that. They say Headley simply slipped through the cracks of a system in which overwhelmed agencies struggle to track threats and to communicate internally and with each other.

The final tip to authorities about Headley came from a family friend days after the Mumbai attacks. This time, FBI agents in Philadelphia questioned a cousin of Headley's. The cousin lied, saying Headley was in Pakistan when he was actually at home in Chicago, according to trial testimony and court documents. The cousin alerted Headley about the FBI inquiry, but Headley went to Denmark as planned.

U.S. agencies did not find Headley or warn foreign counterparts about him in the first half of 2009 while he conducted surveillance in Denmark and India and met and communicated with ISI officers and known Lashkar and al-Qaeda leaders.


* The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama

* Under Obama Administration, Renditions - And The Secrecy Behind Them - Continue

* Obama's Torture Test

* The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You Might Never See

* Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA

* Update: Obama's America

* Hunger Strikes And Indefinite Detention: A Gitmo Rundown

* Obama's FOIA Fail

* Torture And Obama's Drone Program

* Torture USA

* The Best Reporting On The Growing Surveillance State.

* Mass Surveillance In America: A Timeline Of Loosening Laws And Practices.

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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 AM | Permalink

June 12, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard says Joe Berrios has been dodging a subpoena for nearly a year," the Sun-Times reports.

"Now Blanchard is taking the Cook County Assessor to court. Blanchard's office sued Berrios late last week, asking a Cook County judge to force Berrios to comply with Blanchard's subpoena demanding records related to tax breaks on two properties owned by a Berrios office manager, Lewis Towers.

"He wants to know about homeowner's exemptions on Towers' homes in Chicago and Sauk Village. Residential property owners in Cook County may claim only one homeowner exemption - on the home where they live full-time."


Maybe Berrios and Towers are just confused and thought the word "exemption" meant they were exempt from the law.


Speaking of exemptions, is Bruce Rauner is under investigation too?

Hail Fire
"Storms Could Bring High Winds, 'Baseball'-Size Hail."

I tried to come up with a White Sox/Cubs joke for this, but I was already feeling a little cheap about that exemption joke.

Back In The USSR
"The Batavia High School teacher at the center of a recent controversy over his recommendation to students about a school survey was warned to keep his opinions about all future district initiatives to himself or risk losing his job," the Tribune reports.


"[Cubs] infielder Ian Stewart went on a Twitter rant Monday night in which he criticized the Cubs for not calling him up and bragged about earning seven figures in Triple-A. The team was not too pleased with that, and it has responded by suspending him indefinitely without pay," CBS Sports reports.

"The team used the standard loyalty clause in the contract to hand down the suspension."


But Batavia and the Cubs welcome the debate.


Possibly related:

"Here's what you would expect to see at the big office furniture expo in Chicago: ergonomic chairs, stylish lighting, the latest in cubicle design," the Tribune reports.

"Here's what you also get: the Guardian. It can be worn as a vest or draped on the back of your chair and is designed to protect today's office worker, teacher or security guard from gunfire.

"You can use the vest to protect your back, or you can kneel behind it, and it's designed to thwart a .357 Magnum slug."

Floppy Hat In Ring
I'm inviting the Cubs to meet with me about moving the team to Wicker Park. Do I get a headline too?

Corporate Crime Report
"The Chicago Board Options Exchange has agreed to pay a $6 million fine relating to what regulators call 'various systematic breakdowns' in the policing of its own procedures," the Tribune reports.

"The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the charge Tuesday and accused CBOE of 'a failure to enforce or even fully comprehend rules to prevent abusive short selling.'"


"Walgreen has agreed to pay $80 million related to allegations it broke federal rules that govern how prescription painkillers are distributed, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said on Tuesday," Reuters reports.

"The DEA said the settlement is the largest in its history."


Possibly related:


There's The Beef
"A city panel yesterday approved a $5.0 million subsidy to finance Vienna Beef Ltd.'s move from the North Side to Bridgeport," Crain's reports.

"The Community Development Commission's unanimous approval of tax-increment financing (TIF) will help the Chicago-based hot dog maker cover the $5.0 million purchase and $7.3 million renovation of a 103,445-square-foot factory at 1000 W. Pershing Road."


Possibly related:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel isn't ruling out seeking a way to raise Chicago Public Schools' property tax cap to help close the [alleged] $1 billion deficit the district faces," the Tribune reports.


Definitely related:

"Last summer in the midst of teacher contract negotiations and as they prepared to undertake massive school closings, CPS leaders said they were using one-time reserves to fill a budget deficit and were completely out of money," Catalyst reports.

"But on Wednesday, district officials said they will once again use one-time reserves to fill a budget deficit projected to be close to $1 billion. District officials made this announcement as they were releasing school budgets to principals.

CPS is facing a substantial budget deficit because it must contribute $612 million to pension funds, a $400 million increase from last year. Officials were hoping to spread those payments over a longer period of time, but last week state legislators didn't approve a bill that would have given the district a pension holiday.

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said that the new reserves will be created by the county making property tax payments on time again this year. Carroll said the district also might garner some savings from the state keeping current with payments.

However, identifying the county payments as extra money is a direct contradiction to earlier statements. The annual audit, released in January, showed a fund balance of $329 million - a fact critics immediately jumped on accusing CPS of being dishonest by crying poverty and then ending up with money in the bank.

At the time, CPS officials said last year's one-time county property tax payment was not extra money, but had just been received earlier than expected and was already allocated.

Receiving money early is not the same as receiving more money. It's like saying your income will be more this year than last year because your tax refund is coming in sooner.

School Choice
"With more Noble Street charter schools opening next year, the student advocacy group Voices of Youth in Chicago Education and the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law charged Tuesday that some of their practices are so unfair that they shouldn't be allowed to expand," Catalyst reports.

"The two reasons? They expel more students than traditional CPS schools and they don't enroll as many special education students."

STEM Cells
"As leaders push Chicago schools to focus more on STEM programs - science, technology, engineering and math - a new study finds that more than 88,000 students are exposed to these disciplines outside of school and more than half of them are girls," Catalyst reports.

"But Latino children, in particular, are left out of these programs. And few programs are offered during the summer.

"Summer is underutilized, [but] because of the flexibility it is probably the best space," says Gabrielle Lyon, co-founder of Project Exploration and chair of the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative.

Fewer STEM programs are offered during the summer because they are typically connected to schools rather than community organizations.

Another concern pinpointed by the report is that many STEM programs are "one-shot" activities without mentoring or internships that can really make the experience deep and lasting.

The study is ground-breaking, given that not much is known about the universe of out-of-school programs, especially those that focus on STEM learning. Lyon says that the report is "just the tip of the iceberg" in trying to get a handle on the availability of quality learning programs outside of school.


Rahm Emanuel is all about STEM programs these days ("Emanuel has changed from a Washington political hack to a policy wonk focused on creating STEM-heavy high school curriculums and real-world job training programs in community colleges", Time said in its now infamous "Chicago Bull" cover story), but as usual, his rhetoric does not match the data:

"The Economic Policy Institute published a report yesterday on the supposed shortage of professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)," the American Prospect (and others) reported last month.

"You've probably heard of the crisis by now. America is not producing enough STEM degrees. This will be the death of innovation and global competitiveness. We must reorient higher education to convert more liberal arts students into STEM students. And so on.

"The problem with this alleged crisis is that it is not real. As the EPI report lays bare, the common wisdom about our STEM problem is mistaken: We are not facing a shortage of STEM-qualified workers. In fact, we appear to have a considerable STEM surplus. Only half of students graduating with a STEM degree are able to find STEM jobs. Beyond that, if there was an actual shortage of STEM workers, basic supply and demand would predict that the wages of STEM workers would be on the rise. Instead, wages in STEM fields have not budged in over a decade. Stagnant wages and low rates of STEM job placement strongly suggest we actually have an abundance of STEM-qualified workers."

HUD Crud
"HUD spent $9 million to contract with the Urban Institute to conduct 8,000 undercover tests in 28 metropolitan areas in order to expose illegal housing discrimination," ProPublica reports.

"Yet the federal agency has no plans to use these tests to actually enforce the law and punish the offenders."

We've added some local info and retitled the report HUD Refuses To Prosecute Widespread Discrimination It Spends Millions To Find.

Fantasy Fix: The Biogenesis Factor
Advice from our man in fantasyland.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Tales from the encrypted.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Biogenesis Factor

It has been about a week since reports spread like wildfire through fantasy baseball circles suggesting that MLB was close to suspending as many as 20 players in a performance-enhancing drug scandal connected to Florida's Biogenesis Clinic. How close? Well, it hasn't happened yet . . .

On the evening of June 4th, fantasy owners of Ryan Braun, in particular, were apoplectic, with rumors of a 100-game suspension. Likewise, a rumored 100-game suspension appeared set to wipe out any possibility that Alex Rodriguez could become the late-season sleeper that some of us believe he can be after returning from the disabled list sometime next month.

Among others reported to be caught up in the Biogenesis scandal: Bartolo Colon, who has fantasy value this year thanks to seven wins, a 3.14 ERA and 1.09 WHIP; and Everth Cabrera, the MLB leader in stolen bases. At least 15 more names have been connected with the scandal, several of them with fantasy value.

Fantasy owners spent the first few days after the initial reports considering their options - who they should pick up as replacements for suspended players, and whether they should trade away a player whose absence could cost them a league championship. So, what should you do?

How about nothing?

It's time for cooler heads to prevail, as it has become apparent as we have gained some distance from the first reports of scandal that MLB is not as close to handing out suspensions as was suggested.

I have to think the league is pretty unhappy that news of potential suspensions broke when it did because to suspend as many as 20 players before the All-Star break would cast a pall over the rest of this season.

I think MLB will do whatever it can to further drag out a Biogenesis investigation, as well as the process of mulling what kind of suspensions to give.

I'll be very surprised if anything formal is announced before the World Series, and even then, I'm wondering if rumors of 100-game punishments are just way off-base.

The league claims it will come down hard on drug cheaters, and it should, but I don't think it has the stomach for that size of suspension unless a player is caught red-handed, and not for the first time.

MLB will have to deal with this scandal at some point, and the result could make huge waves in 2014, but for the rest of this year, your fantasy baseball course should remain unchanged.

Expert Wire
* USA Today has replacement ideas for the Biogenesis-tainted, if you insist on a contingency plan.

* Bleacher Report has waiver wire ideas.

* hypes Mets starting pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 AM | Permalink

HUD Refuses To Prosecute Widespread Discrimination It Spends Millions To Find

The results of Tuesday's U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development national study on the persistence of housing discrimination are unlikely to shock: Racial and ethnic minorities continue to find themselves locked out of many housing opportunities.

No, the more startling thing may be what HUD intends to do with its findings.

HUD spent $9 million to contract with the Urban Institute to conduct 8,000 undercover tests in 28 metropolitan areas in order to expose illegal housing discrimination. Yet the federal agency has no plans to use these tests to actually enforce the law and punish the offenders.

Once a decade for the last 40 years, HUD has produced a massive survey to reveal the pervasive discrimination that, year after year, exists in America's housing marketplace.

But as ProPublica reported late last year, HUD as a policy refuses to invest the same kinds of time, resources and techniques in prosecuting those guilty of the very discrimination its expensive studies uncover.

Instead, HUD outsources testing used to find and punish discriminatory landlords to dozens of small, poorly funded fair housing groups scattered across the country.

And Congress has shown little appetite for forcing HUD to do more meaningful enforcement. A bill that would create a national testing enforcement program at HUD is expected to soon die in committee for the third time.

In an interview Tuesday, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan defended both the decision to conduct the survey and the Obama administration's commitment to ending the kinds of discrimination it revealed.

"The level of investment in fair housing enforcement has been significantly increased by this president," Donovan said.

Because housing discrimination these days is often more subtle - the survey released Tuesday said the kind of "door slamming" racism of years past had declined - testing is considered the best means of uncovering illegal behavior by homeowners, landlords and real estate agents.

According to HUD - the chief enforcement agency of the 1968 federal Fair Housing Act - running its own national testing program to pursue violators would compromise the agency's neutrality.

Critics, including the man who created the fair housing testing enforcement program at the U.S. Department of Justice, called that stance "absurd."

In the study released Tuesday, the Urban Institute sent paired testers, one white and one a member of a minority group, to contact housing providers who'd recently advertised homes and apartments. The pairs shared similar stories with the providers about their qualifications and then recorded their treatment.

The good news is the testers - who all presented themselves as highly qualified - found little discrimination when trying to make an appointment to view a home or apartment. Black renters calling about an advertised unit are far less likely to be told it's unavailable than a decade ago.

But the study found significantly different treatment once testers met with agents; black, Asian and Latino testers were consistently shown or told about fewer units. In fact, white homebuyers were shown nearly 20 percent more homes as equally qualified black and Asian homebuyers.

For example, in one test, a real estate agent refused to meet with the black tester until she was prequalified by a lender but made an appointment with the white tester without asking for prequalification.

Donovan said the findings revealed a "sad" truth that the long struggle to end housing discrimination continues. "Although we've come a long way from the days of blatant in-your-face injustice, discrimination still persists. Any time freedom of choice is attacked it is a threat to the ideals we all value - equality and fairness," he said.

Donovan said these findings represent more than just numbers, and underscore, for instance, a family's inability to move across town to a safer neighborhood with better schools. That the discrimination is "hidden doesn't mean it is any less harmful," he said.

Margery Austin Turner of the Urban Institute said the discrimination uncovered in the study likely understates the problem because buyers presented themselves as highly qualified and did not necessarily represent the typical prospective minority home buyer.

"The discrimination that persists today matters," she said. "Not only is it fundamentally unfair that somebody doesn't find out about available housing because of the color of their skin, but it also really raises the costs of housing searches for minorities. It restricts their housing choices."

Turner recommended increased testing, including at the national level, and strong enforcement.

The agency's unwillingness to fund an internal testing program to not just study but to enforce the 45-year-old Fair Housing Act has long been criticized as part of its overall failure to address wide-scale housing discrimination.


See also:

* Tribune: HUD Finds Housing Discrimination "Hidden" But Prevalent.

"In the Chicago area, researchers found that African-American and white renters got equal access to information and showings of apartments, but African-Americans were less likely than white consumers to see at least one home that had no problems.

"Blacks also were more likely than whites to be told that a credit check had to be performed and that particular rental units carried fees. They also were quoted higher fees than the ones quoted to white testers. On average, the extra fees quoted to blacks put the first-year cost of securing a rental unit at $350 more than the cost for white renters.

"Hispanic testers in Chicago reported that they heard comments about their credit standing more often than the white testers, and the extra payments quoted to them were $131 more than white testers'."

* WBEZ: Study: Segregation Persists In Chicago With Hurdles To Fair Housing.

"Barriers to fair housing are exacerbating segregation in the Chicago area."

* John Marshall Law School: Year-Long Study Of Chicago-Area Housing Shows Impediments In Enforcement.

"We hope that through these findings we can encourage government leaders to strengthen laws that are either not explicit or passive in their approach. Without coordination between government agencies or without specific guidelines, these patterns of discrimination will continue," says professor Michael Seng.

You can find the whole John Marshall report here.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

June 11, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

How funny that Bill Daley tries to leverage the (tarnished) halo of Barack Obama in his announcement of a run for governor - or at least in the formation of an exploratory committee, which both gives him an out and allows him to start raising money. Here it is:


I don't believe I've ever seen Bill Daley without a tie. But he's just a regular guy like us now.


If Daley actually follows through with this run - still an "if" in my book - he may hurt a Lisa Madigan bid not so much in splitting the anti-Quinn vote but in simply turning off voters faced with choosing between a Daley and a Madigan. Without Bill in the race, Lisa looks a little fresher.


Bruce Rauner has already amended his rhetoric and is campaigning against the Quinn-Madigan-Daley machine - the same machine that got his daughter into Payton.


If it came down to Rauner vs. Daley, which I highly doubt it will, Illinois would have a choice between a private equity specialist and a banker.


Mr. Daley, Rahm Emanuel says your brother really screwed up Chicago, and you were his chief advisor during that time. Did you screw up Chicago or is Rahm just plain wrong?


Also: NAFTA, JPMorgan.


The Bill Daley chief of staff narrative.


Bill Daley on his nephew R.J. Vanecko: "He's basically a good kid."

Did you ever encourage him to cooperate with police, then? You know, appeal to his basic good nature? A dead kid's mother would have liked some answers.


Shoot, Aim, Ready
"Chicago Public Schools officials put out a five-year plan Monday called The Next Generation: Chicago's Children, but didn't go into much depth about how it will be implemented," WBEZ reports.

"The plan comes less than a month after the Board of Education voted to shut down 50 public schools, mostly on the South and West sides of the city."

So CPS decided to close scores of schools before even drafting a 10-year facilities plan and then after the fact produced a five-year educational plan. (If you can call it that, because it reads more like a McKinsey slidedeck.) Backwards, much?


"[B]oard member Mahalia Hines said just having a plan down on paper gets everyone on the same page.

"I think that my favorite part is that we actually have a plan that I can get my hands around," Hines said.

Hines has been on the board for two years.


As she was voting to close 54 schools, Hines was heard on a live mic saying "I don't even want to talk to the press. Once this is over, I'm out."

One of the "pillars' of the new CPS plan is transparency.


In its story about the plan, the Trib soft-pedaled this nugget:

"Last week, the Tribune reported that enrollment figures for students from schools being closed may have been inflated because some school officials had signed up students without parental approval. Byrd-Bennett said the district 'found little or no evidence of that.'"

So Byrd-Bennett investigated? And what were the findings exactly? What constitutes "little?"

Because the Trib reported actual real people doing what is alleged. And those people were told to take those actions by higher-ups.

"If, in fact, there is any evidence that someone wanted to inflate their numbers or do something that was inappropriate and without direction from this team, we'll do course correction and move forward," she told the paper's editorial board.

But the Tribune provided evidence right there in its report. And you just said you found little or no evidence yourself, yet now it sounds like you didn't even investigate!


Over at the Sun-Times, education reporter Lauren FitzPatrick expressed frustration with the staged roll-out of the new plan:







And yet, here are the first six paragraphs of her story, under the extremely charitable headline "Byrd-Bennett Wants To Get CPS Students Prepared For College:"

Within weeks of confirming the closure of a record 50 Chicago Public Schools, the schools chief unveiled some details of an ambitious five-year plan to get the city's students prepared for college.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett's "pillars" include welcoming more parents into schools, meeting students' emotional needs in addition to their academics, and setting high standards for all children to prepare them for life in the 21st century.

"We fundamentally believe that all of our children are capable of success, and to ensure that success, every child must have equitable access to a high-quality education," said Byrd-Bennett, accompanied at Westinghouse College Prep on Monday by a video called "The CPS Way" and a glossy, 25-page brochure titled "The Next Generation: Chicago's Children."

"Our vision is that we intend for every student in every neighborhood to be engaged in a rigorous, well-rounded program and that each student will graduate prepared for college, prepared for career, and it's so important - to be prepared for life, just to be good people who want to come back to their community, come back to our city and give back," she told the crowd, which included Board of Education members.

Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th), chairman of the City Council's Education Committee, who attended the speech, appreciated that Byrd-Bennett has a long-term plan, since she hadn't seen anything of the sort in her 13 years as alderman.

"If she's trying to build trust, this plan is at least in line with the statement she made about not closing any more schools for five years. She said she wanted to give the schools time to rebuild."

It falls to the second half of the story for some truths to be delivered, placing them as secondary and in the form of "critics" carping about the narrative Byrd-Bennett has been allowed to put in place.

The plan was short on specifics and devoid of any discussion on how a school system struggling to erase a $1 billion shortfall without pension relief can afford to do anything new, let alone bankroll Byrd-Bennett's "five pillars."

With some tweaking, that could be the lead:

"Chicago schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett continued her carefully stage-managed victory tour Monday by introducing a new five-year plan long on the jargon of corporate consulting and scant on detail - like how to pay for it - while largely avoiding reporters even as she touted "transparency" as one of the district's new values."

Isn't that a more accurate representation of what happened?


The end seems to be Fran Spielman's contribution to the story - though, again, with tweaking, it could be the lead:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who championed many of the initiatives comprising the plan, is a master of message control and media packaging who attempts to sell his plans as new, even when they're not.

In March, 2012, the mayor unveiled, what he called, "Building a New Chicago," a $7.3 billion plan to rebuild Chicago's infrastructure and create 30,000 jobs.

But it was little more than political packaging by a new administration that had fast become famous for it.

Most, if not all, of the CTA, water, sewer, parks, schools and City Colleges project had been announced before. So had the $1.7 billion Infrastructure Trust the mayor hoped to use to bankroll some of the projects.

But here's the thing: Rahm can only be a master of message control and media packaging if the media goes along with him. You're the one he's controlling!

The end result is basically writing a story as if it came out of Rahm's PR shop and then declaring at the end that "We've been had because he's really good at this."


Sarah Karp's report for Catalyst sets a more sober tone - and appears under the headline "Education Plan: Big On Ideas, Short On Money:"

For the first time since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took over CPS, his CEO laid out an education plan, calling for high academic standards, more focus on parental engagement and greater accountability for the district, including an annual scorecard.

Among specifics called for in the plan announced by Barbara Byrd-Bennett are more arts education - the district and the city announced a $1 million investment in arts education in May - and mental health services.

The plan also reiterates some previously-announced initiatives, such as full-day kindergarten for all children and the creation of more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) schools. The plan also makes mention of the move to the Common Core State Standards.

But Byrd-Bennett's announcement at Westinghouse High School raised immediate questions about how the board would pay for the initiatives. And following the announcement, Board President David Vitale confirmed that principals, who received their school budgets just last week, will have to make do with less: On average, school budgets are a few percentage points down from last year, although the cuts varied from school to school.

Click through for the rest of her examination.


Finally . . . oh hell, don't get me started. Here's Carol Marin giving Byrd-Bennett an easy 10-minute ride, a segment just slightly longer than the 8:49 spent on the Blackhawks after it. CPS knows it can always find a safe harbor at WTTW.


How in the world that constituted an interview as opposed to hosting an official's talking points is beyond me.


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

Toews And Kane
Tied at the historic hip.

Chicago's Door & Prince's Protege
In Local Music Notebook.

It's Just Kids Playing A Game, Badly
A reminder to parents.

Beast Of Burden
Coping with an image.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Not a game.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: Toews & Kane Tied At The Historic Hip

They have a chance to stand alone, together, atop Blackhawk history.

Center Jonathan Toews and winger Patrick Kane were both in their third years in the NHL when they played pivotal roles three years ago in the winning of the Hawks' first Stanley Cup in almost a half century.

Center Stan Mikita and left wing Bobby Hull were in their second and fourth years respectively when they were key contributors to that previous title in 1961.

Mikita and Hull went on to both score more than 500 goals for the Hawks (although the amazing Golden Jet did it in about a half-dozen fewer seasons). But they never won another Cup.

They made the finals together in 1971 but lost to the Canadiens. And then in 1972 Hull, fed up with dealing with penurious owners "Dollar" Bill Wirtz and his dad Arthur, bolted to the Winnipeg Jets of the then-new World Hockey Association.

Mikita went to another Cup final in 1973 but the Hawks lost that one as well, against, of course, the Canadiens.

Mikita and Hull's careers and Toews and Kane's run may have happened decades apart, but they are remarkably similar, so far. Well, similar in terms of playing prominent roles on their respective clubs. Toews is the best leader in the group - he has worn the captain's "C" for five years. Pierre Pilote wore the "C" for the Hawks through most of the '60s.

And Hull was by far the best performer. He became the first NHL player ever to score more than 50 goals in a season in 1966, finishing with 54. And then he bested that record by four in 1969. In that season he also assisted on 49 tallies for an amazing 107 total points. In all, Hull led the NHL in scoring seven times in the '60s.

Games featuring him flying down the wing and blasting fearsome slapshots with a stick that eventually forced rule-makers to limit curvature with a rule named after him - those contests were absolutely the best shows in town.

I was born in Chicago in 1966 and so I don't really remember Hull playing for the Hawks. I have vague recollections of Lloyd "There's a shot . . . and a goal!" Pettit singing the praises of Mikita. But it is the names of other players from those mid- to late-'70s teams like Pit Martin, Jim Pappin and Keith Magnuson that spark the most memories of evenings spent with my Zenith Royal 300 transistor radio, listening to hockey on, what was it, WIND-AM?

Those teams, of course, could never get over the hump and win it all. And after the appearance in the Finals in 1973, there was only one more (in 1992) before the glorious run in 2010.

Not only are the current Hawks making history just by making the Finals, they are doing so in an era that requires them to persevere far longer than teams needed to in the '60s. People love to talk about "Original Six" teams and I suppose it was quaint to have such a small league, but it also seems unbelievable that the Hawks didn't manage to finish atop that group more frequently before expansion began around 1970.

Another championship sets these Hawks apart, both in their own history and in the current league. The last nine Stanley Cups have been won by nine different teams. Either the Hawks or the Bruins will become the first team to win a second championship in the decade.

Ah yes, the Bruins. Some of those earlier earliest memories involved the Hawks losing to the team from the Hub in the playoffs. That hasn't happened in a long, long time because the teams were re-aligned into different conferences shortly thereafter. Still, maybe on occasion during this series, we'll squint and see Johnny Bucyk or Bobby Orr in Boston's distinctive white or gold uniforms . . . and maybe Terry Ruskowski or Dennis Hull going back the other way for the Hawks.

It all starts tomorrow night.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Chicago's Door & Prince's Protege

"Chicago's resident heavy metal comrades, Dan Donegan and Mike Wengren of multi-platinum band Disturbed, shot a new music video for their band Fight or Flight, a side project with singer Dan Chandler of Evans Blue," Reel Chicago reported last month.

Now that video takes on new resonance.

"The video uses the narrative device of a secret society to question conspiracy theories surrounding vaccines, gun control, and depopulation among many others, with the album's provocative title laying out a premise for music fans to question what they see.

"The South Side rockers are no strangers to making videos, having shot several live performance-style vids over the years, including 'Down with the Sickness' at Tinley Park's outdoor venue. This latest effort however is a first attempt at a narrative, with Donegan himself providing the treatment.

"The band members exchanged thoughts on conspiracy theories and drew inspiration from documentaries like Zeitgeist. 'Some [conspiracy theories] seem very goofy, and some seem like there's a strong argument for it. All we're saying is maybe we should open our eyes and ask questions, to get ourselves closer to the truth.'"

While I don't agree with the band's choices to subjects to illustrate its point, such as debunked vaccine conspiracy and an anti-gun control message, conspiracy theories are only likely to burgeon given the recent revelations about our vast government surveillance system.

"It is our right to stand up and ask questions," Donegan told Revolver earlier this month.

"That is the only way to get to the truth! We shouldn't go through life being spoon-fed by the media or our government and accept everything we are told. The more we educate ourselves, the better we are at understanding what the future holds for us and our children. The message of this video is to lead you to those questions and for you to decide where you stand. Open your eyes and your mind and draw your own conclusions."

Here it is:


Chicago's Door
Ray Manzarek, who died last month, grew up in Chicago. From a 2011 interview he gave to M:

"My childhood involved lots of classical study and lessons. Plus I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. You can't imagine what Chicago radio was like in the '50s - it was blues all the time. I would come home from school, turn on the radio and listen to disc jockey Al Benson play Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed and Howlin' Wolf. Then suddenly here comes Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and all the rock 'n' roll cats. Little Richard completely blew me away. I was just 12. I didn't know what I was going to do at that age. All I knew was I loved playing music."


Handsome Is As Handsome Does
The Handsome Family, formerly of Chicago, got a New Yorker write-up recently on the occasion of their new record. Here's a selection:


Prince Protege
Prince "wants the world to hear 3rdEyeGirl: powerhouse drummer Hannah Ford Welton from Louisville, guitar monster Donna Grantis from Toronto and funky bassist Ida Nielsen from Denmark, who started playing with his larger NPG group in 2010," according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

That would be the Hannah Ford featured here in the Beachwood last August.

Also, Greg Kot reported last September that Ford was on her way to Prince.

According to her Facebook page, she still lives in Chicago.


Drive-By Trucker
Because of this post and subsequent exchange with Patterson Hood in 2008, this portion of a recent interview with Jason Isbell particularly caught my attention:

What's your favorite song about Alabama, other than your own? Or you can name one of your own if you want.

(laughs) "Well, I'm not gonna do that. I like the old 'Alabama Rag.' 'Oh! Susanna' is a good song. It's not necessarily the most politically correct material these days. But I like that. I think 'Sweet Home Alabama' is a good song. I don't see anything wrong with that one at all."

I do. Still.


Juke Joint Woman
Sweet Claudette at her recent induction into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame.


Little Birds
Katchafire & Maoli at a tribute to Bob Marley last month at Reggies.


Born in Chicago
"Only a spoonful of people know of the uplifting bridge between the North Side and the South Side," Dave Hoekstra writes for the Sun-Times.

"The mid-1960s connection between the young white blues musicians of Chicago and the northern suburbs and the blues masters of the South Side made music history. The kids fueled their teacher's spirits. The teachers taught their students well. It was beautiful.

"The documentary Born in Chicago goes deep into the muse of white kids such as the late Paul Butterfield, the late Mike Bloomfield, Charlie Musselwhite, Harvey Mandel and others. These hipster visionaries with dark sunglasses bonded with blues legends Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and drummer Sam Lay, the city's most underrated living blues musician.

"It took five loving years to make Born in Chicago. The doc clicks on several levels and drags in others. Musselwhite is an engaging storyteller who deploys Southern detail, and Siegel still delivers every memory with a new smile. Black-and-white footage of the forever young Bloomfield (1943-1981) is precious, and it establishes a kindred spirit with Jack White. White's sense of adventure is what these young Chicago cats were all about. A huge fan of Howlin' Wolf, White says, 'Don't tell me it is not the blues when you turn up more distortion.'

"And therein lies a problem in Born in Chicago.

You'll have to click through for explanation.

Meanwhile, here's the trailer:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Ladies And Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones


OK: it was 1978
And I was 17.

The Stones
Were coming
To Soldier Field,

Named in honor
Of Army veterans
Of World War

No possessive.

The Stones
Were touring
On "Some Girls"

And I
Was gonna
Be there.

I was gonna
BE there.

I didn't
Sleep out
For tickets

It was such
A big venue.

We got

Our group slept
In Speedy's basement

The night before,

We had his dad's

A lime green
Chrysler Cordoba.

What you can get
When your bud's dad

Is cheating
On his mom.

We arrive
At "Soldier's Field"

In the dark,
And get in place

Some doors.


Zeus the motherfuckin'

The doors
We camp out by

We get

Thirty yard line,
Fuck you

Very much.

Long day...

Is the

And they do

Steve Perry comes out
For the encore

And goes


Silence ensued.

Again: we're at about
The thirty yard line.

Acrobats come out
After Journey

("FUCK! Where
Are the STONES?").

We're main floor
Within thirty yards
But as time

For the Stones

Things tighten up.

People are ticked
By folks trying to
Move further forward.

Here's the poem:

Right in front of me

Two slammin' chicks

In black lace
Body stockings

(Ask your wife
Or long suffering

One of them
Gets down on her knees

In front of ME

--I'm in hip-hugger
Bells without shirt--

And the standing one
Whips out
Her compact
And blows powder

Her kneeling

I'm sorry?!

Needless to say,

Without protest,
They continued on

To the stage.

It was
A Helluva

"Beast of Burden"
Went on
For ten minutes.

Fellas: I continue
To cope

With the meaning
Of the


Of that

Those two

Making their way



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


More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 AM | Permalink

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

Last week saw revelations that the FBI and the National Security Agency have been collecting Americans' phone records en masse and that the agencies have access to data from nine tech companies.

But secrecy around the programs has meant even basic questions are still unanswered. Here's what we still don't know:

Has the NSA been collecting all Americans' phone records, and for how long?

It's not entirely clear.

The Guardian published a court order that directed a Verizon subsidiary to turn over phone metadata - the time and duration of calls, as well as phone numbers and location data - to the NSA "on an ongoing daily basis" for a three-month period.

Citing unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal reported the program also covers AT&T and Sprint and that it covers the majority of Americans.

And Director of National Intelligence James Clapper himself acknowledged that the "collection" is "broad in scope."

How long has the dragnet has existed?

At least seven years, and maybe going back to 2001.

Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and vice chair Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said last week that the NSA has been collecting the records going back to 2006.

That's the same year that USA Today revealed a similar-sounding mass collection of metadata, which the paper said had been taking place since 2001.

The relationship between the program we got a glimpse of in the Verizon order and the one revealed by USA Today in 2006 is still not clear: USA Today described a program not authorized by warrants. The program detailed last week does have court approval.

What surveillance powers does the government believe it has under the Patriot Act?

That's classified.

The Verizon court order relies on Section 215 of the Patriot Act. That provision allows the FBI to ask the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a secret order requiring companies, like Verizon, to produce records - "any tangible things" - as part of a "foreign intelligence" or terrorism investigation.

As with any law, exactly what the wording means is a matter for courts to decide. But the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's interpretation of Section 215 is secret.

As Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman recently wrote, the details of that interpretation matter a lot: "Read narrowly, this language might require that information requested be shown to be important or necessary to the investigation. Read widely, it would include essentially anything even slightly relevant - which is to say, everything."

In the case of the Verizon order - signed by a judge who sits on the secret court and requiring the company to hand over "all call detail records" - it appears that the court is allowing a broad interpretation of the Patriot Act.

But we still don't know the specifics.

Has the NSA's massive collection of metadata thwarted any terrorist attacks?

It depends on which senator you ask. And evidence that would help settle the matter is, yes, classified.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., told CNN on Sunday, "It's unclear to me that we've developed any intelligence through the metadata program that's led to the disruption of plots that we could [not] have developed through other data and other intelligence."

He said he could not elaborate on his case "without further declassification."

Sen. Feinstein told ABC that the collection of phone records described in the Verizon order had been "used" in the case of would-be New York subway bomber Najibullah Zazi.

Later in the interview, Feinstein said she couldn't disclose more because the information is classified.

(It's worth noting that there's also evidence that old-fashioned police work helped solve the Zazi case - and that other reports suggest the Prism program, not the phone records, helped solve the case.)

How much information, and from whom, is the government sweeping up through Prism?

It's not clear.

Intelligence director Clapper said in his declassified description that the government can't get information using Prism unless there is an "appropriate, and documented, foreign intelligence purpose for the acquisition (such as for the prevention of terrorism, hostile cyber activities, or nuclear proliferation) and the foreign target is reasonably believed to be outside the United States."

One thing we don't know is how the government determines who is a "foreign target." The Washington Post reported that NSA analysts use "search terms" to try to achieve "51 percent confidence" in a target's "foreignness."

How do they do that? Unclear.

We've also never seen a court order related to Prism - they are secret - so we don't know how broad they are.

The Post reported that the court orders can be sweeping, and apply for up to a year, though Google has maintained it has not "received blanket orders of the kind being discussed in the media."

So, how does Prism work?

In his statement Saturday, Clapper described Prism as a computer system that allows the government to collect "foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision."

That much seems clear.

But the exact role of the tech companies is still murky. Relying on a leaked PowerPoint presentation, the Washington Post originally described Prism as an FBI and NSA program to tap "directly into the central servers" of nine tech companies including Google and Facebook.

Some of the companies denied giving the government "direct access" to their servers.

In a later story, published Saturday, the newspaper cited unnamed intelligence sources saying that the description from the PowerPoint was technically inaccurate.

The Post quotes a classified NSA report saying that Prism allows "collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations," not the company servers themselves.

So what does any of that mean? We don't know.


* The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama

* Under Obama Administration, Renditions - And The Secrecy Behind Them - Continue

* Obama's Torture Test

* The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You Might Never See

* Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA

* Update: Obama's America

* Hunger Strikes And Indefinite Detention: A Gitmo Rundown

* Obama's FOIA Fail

* Torture And Obama's Drone Program

* Torture USA

* The Best Reporting On The Growing Surveillance State.

* Mass Surveillance In America: A Timeline Of Loosening Laws And Practices.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

June 10, 2013

It's Just Kids Playing A Game, Badly

"Finally a sign telling parents how stupid they look getting all worked up over their kids sports games."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

This is going around:


"President Barack Obama's chief defense of his administration's wide-ranging data-gathering programs Friday: Congress authorized them, with 'every member' well aware of the details.

"Not so, say many members of Congress - Democrats and Republicans alike.

"Typically, members of Congress "don't receive this kind of briefing," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told POLITICO Friday. They wouldn't have known about the programs unless they were on an intelligence committee, attended special sessions last held in 2011 or specifically asked to be briefed - something they would only know to do if they were clued in by an colleague who was already aware.

"Durbin said he learned about the two programs himself only after requesting a briefing under 'classified circumstances' after being urged to do so by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)."


Durbin throwing Obama under the bus is kind of a big deal.


Methinks Aaron Schock is calling the wrong person treasonous.


See also: ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.


"The National Counterterrorism Center was once only allowed to store data on citizens if they were terror suspects or related to an ongoing investigation. Not anymore. The Wall Street Journal details the 'sea change' in policy under Obama, that lets the center collect and examine information on any U.S. citizen - whether or not they're suspected of a crime."


Rahm's Hoffa
"For the record, go fuck yourself."

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Including: Black Flag, Blues Fest and more.

Tavi Gevinson, Chris Ware & Lynda Barry
From the Printers Row Lit Fest.

The Cub Factor
Experimental Lineups, Floppy Hats & No All-Stars.

The White Sox Report
Honestly unlikable whether you're eight or 80.

Random Food Report
Fry Cook From Venus Strikes Highland Park.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Now with both meta and data.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:26 PM | Permalink

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

On Wednesday, the Guardian published documents revealing the government has been collecting months' worth of telephone "metadata" on millions of Verizon customers. The Washington Post and the Guardian followed with news that both the National Security Agency and the FBI have been pulling Americans' data from major web companies like Facebook and Google.

Since 9/11, the government has been collecting enormous amounts of information on citizens. But most of the data grabbing is done in secret. What do we know about what the government knows? Here's our reading guide to the government's growing surveillance.

Bush Lets U.S. Spy On Callers Without Courts, New York Times, December 2005:

In 2005, the New York Times broke the story of warrantless wiretapping under President George W. Bush. The National Security Agency previously listened in on calls in which both parties were abroad, but monitoring expanded under Bush to include U.S. calls and e-mails made to overseas contacts. Officials said it was an attempt to track "dirty numbers" that were linked to al-Qaeda.

NSA Has Massive Database Of Americans' Phone Calls, USA Today, May 2006:

Last week's Guardian report isn't the first we've heard of the government collecting Americans' phone records. In 2006, USA Today revealed that the Bush administration was collecting call records of Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth customers without going through the courts.

Top Secret America, Washington Post, July 2010:

As the U.S. counterterrorism system grew to encompass thousands of government agencies and private contractors, it became "an enterprise so massive that nobody in government has a full understanding of it." The Washington Post reported the NSA was collecting 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls, and other communications every day, "overwhelming the system's ability to analyze and use it."

The Secret Sharer: Is Thomas Drake An Enemy Of The State?, New Yorker, May 2011:

Obama promised to increase transparency, but he's pursued more leak investigations than any other U.S. president. Former NSA executive Thomas Drake faced charges under the Espionage Act for leaking documents on the agency's growing surveillance of private citizens (he eventually pled guilty to a much lesser charge.) Drake's case is a window into the NSA as domestic spying took off.

The Surveillance Catalog, The Wall Street Journal, February 2012:

Plenty of governments are spending to spy on their citizens. Documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal reveal what's in governments' toolbox. Some software enables governments to translate and analyze voices from massive wiretaps to discern what's being discussed, or to steal data from "hundreds of thousands" of targets

The NSA Is Building The Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say), Wired, March 2012:

The "Utah Data Center" may sound like just another office park, but the National Security Agency's $2-billion project will soon be home to the biggest database of U.S. citizens' personal information, from private e-mails to bookstore receipts. When it opens in September 2013, it will also be where codebreakers work to crack into heavily encrypted data.

U.S. Terrorism Agency To Tap A Vast Database Of Citizens, The Wall Street Journal, December 2012:

The National Counterterrorism Center was once only allowed to store data on citizens if they were terror suspects or related to an ongoing investigation. Not anymore. The Wall Street Journal details the "sea change" in policy under Obama, that lets the center collect and examine information on any U.S. citizen - whether or not they're suspected of a crime.


See also: Mass Surveillance In America: A Timeline Of Loosening Laws And Practices.


* The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama

* Under Obama Administration, Renditions - And The Secrecy Behind Them - Continue

* Obama's Torture Test

* The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You Might Never See

* Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA

* Update: Obama's America

* Hunger Strikes And Indefinite Detention: A Gitmo Rundown

* Obama's FOIA Fail

* Torture And Obama's Drone Program

* Torture USA


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:54 PM | Permalink

Tavi Gevinson, Chris Ware & Lynda Barry From Printers Row Lit Fest

Video by seijinlee.

Tavi Gevinson.


Chris Ware.


Lynda Barry.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:35 PM | Permalink

Experimental Lineups, Floppy Hats And No All-Stars

Here's how pathetic the Cubs have become: They are campaigning to get David DeJesus into the All-Star game.

No disrespect toward DeJesus intended - he's a fine player. But his greatest attribute - his on-base percentage - is lingering at .335. That's hardly All-Star material, especially considering the rest of his lukewarm stats.

Travis Wood, with is 2.65 ERA, is the only Cub even worthy of consideration. He's been better than Jeff Samardzija, and only one of them is likely to be chosen by National League manager Bruce Bochy.

Week in Review: The Cubs split two games with the Angels and lost two of three to the Pirates to go 2-3 for the week. The win against Pittsburgh came on Color Changing Sports Bottle Day. One of the losses came on Floppy Hat Day. Most Boring Cubs Season Ever.

Week in Preview: The Reds come in for four before the Cubs head east to New York to face the Mets in a three-game weekend series. It's a sad commentary on a baseball team when the days to look most forward to - for the second season in a row - are the draft and the trade deadline.

The Second Basemen Report: Maybe Dale Sveum is trying to force Darwin Barney into thinking like a leadoff hitter by batting him leadoff, but it's not working. After batting ninth against the Angels in the series opener and going 0-for-4, Dale slotted Barney into the top spot in the lineup, thus guaranteeing a .211 hitter with a .293 OBP more at-bats than any other player on the team. Barney went 3-for-15 batting leadoff in three of the next four games, with one walk, four strikeouts and five men left on base. All told, Barney went 3-for-21 for the week, leaving seven men on base. Barney does hit lefties better than righties, but c'mon, Dale.

In case you're wondering, the Cubs' second baseman in Des Moines is Logan Watkins. He's hitting .238, though he's got a .352 OBP.

A better option: Cody Ransom is performing adequately at third (.277/.347/.631 and six HRs in 65 at-bats) and Luis Valbuena is a natural second baseman. It might be time.

The Not-So-Hot Corner I believe we've just covered it.

Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters is back on the DL.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Starlin Castro lost another 15 points on his batting average this week and 11 points on his OBP, which puts his slash line at .243/.283/.339. His career average is now .290 with a .329 OBP. Time to return the Hall of Fame plaque.

Moving Castro to seventh in the batting order last week didn't help - he left 15 men on base in five games.

Maybe the Cubs should move Junior Lake back to short.

The Legend of Dioner Navarro: Got a single in his only pinch-hit opportunity of the week; went 4-for-6 as a starter and walked twice. Plus, I'm pretty sure he threw out a runner or two. Has a .364 OBP.

Welington Castillo, on the other hand, has a .304 OBP. And yet, Dale says he's nearly an elite catcher.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana has his batting average up another point to .293 and his OBP up to .351 OBP at Reno. He's heating up, people! Unfortunately, he's been caught stealing three times now (18-for-21). I think we can live with that.

Bullpen Bullshit: Carlos Villanueva blew a save against the Angels, which was at least novel. The next night James Russell blew a save against the Angels, which was also novel. Kevin Gregg eventually got the win in that one despite giving up a 10th-inning home run. Gregg also got a save against the Pirates. Trade him at his highest value!

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Uh-Oh are trading higher already this week as investors realize the Cubs only outdrew the White Sox by 825 idiots on Sunday.

Sveum's Shadow: Dale Sveum's Five O'Clock Shadow moves to 9 p.m. as the young players he was supposed to help develop continue to regress.

Shark Tank: The story remains the same with Jeff Samardzija, who racked up seven strikeouts in six innings on Saturday on 112 pitches. His ERA is an impressive 3.18, but the Cubs need fewer pitches - even if it means fewer strikeouts - and longer outings. His opponent, A.J. Burnett, for example, also threw 112 pitches - in 8 1/3 innings. He struck out five and has an ERA of 3.12.

Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of Starlin Castro not running out a grounder to short.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Starts until Matt Garza is hurt again: 2.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs don't have a single player worthy of the All-Star game.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 PM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Fry Cook From Venus Strikes Highland Park

1. Spaghetti Slushy.

"Quebecois convenience store chain Couche-Tard has rolled out a new drink: the Pizzaghetti Sloche, a shave-ice drink that comes in both pizza and spaghetti flavors, which can be combined to customer specifications to make Pizzaghetti flavor," Boing Boing reports. "Couche-Tard's slogan for the drink is 'love in a cup.'"


Click through to see the must-see photo.

2. Dunkin-fil-A.

"[Dunkin' Donuts] quietly started serving two new fried chicken sandwiches at locations across the country," Huffington Post notes.

"Though this launch was largely overshadowed by Monday's announcement of a new breakfast sandwich served on a doughnut, it may actually wind up being more significant in the long run. It's the clearest indication yet that Dunkin' Brands aspires to become a full-fledged restaurant rather than a place to grab breakfast and coffee on the way to work."


And when it fails, the post-mortems will note how the company got away from its core business.

3. Old Chicago Rebrands.

"In an effort to attract a broader audience, Old Chicago is rebranding itself with a new restaurant design and menu - and a new name," Nation's Restaurant News reports.

"Formerly Old Chicago Pasta & Pizza, the 37-year-old concept has been renamed Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom in an effort to emphasize craft and local beers."


I still think they should rebrand as Capone's.

4. Chicago Abroad.

"When Frank Harris got married and moved to Augusta from Chicago a few years ago, he learned many Augustans were not familiar with authentic Chicago cuisine," the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle reports. "It gave him the idea for a business.

"Last year, he and his wife, LaTina Harris, opened Frankie's: A Taste of Chicago, at 201 Shartom Drive in Augusta.

"I used to have two places like this in Chicago. I never knew that Augusta didn't have the same types of food as Chicago," Frank said.

"Frankie's will soon move to 4314 Wrightsboro Road in Grovetown to provide more seating. The restaurant, which has two employees plus the owners, will expand to 10 workers.

"'People want to sit down and enjoy our food, versus getting it to go,' LaTina said.

"Harris said he didn't consider opening a restaurant in Augusta until his wife tasted her first Chicago cheesesteak and made the suggestion. He was convinced after seeing the reaction of his stepchildren and others to food he brought back from trips to Chicago. Soon, he was taking orders for all types of items, from pizza puffs and rib tips to hot links and hoagies."

"Each time I went to Chicago, I'd bring back more and more. It just went from there," Harris said.


"Chicago - not unlike Rapid City - is so chock full of character and history that it gets into your blood," the Rapid City (South Dakota) Journal reports.

"From cruising the skyscrapers of the Mag Mile to watching the Cubs at Wrigley or seeing 'Da Bears' at Soldier Field, to hearing its history of corruption, gangsters and the blow-hard politicians and Lake Michigan gales that gave the Windy City its nickname - Chicago has an aura that sticks with you.

"For Herb Weidmann of Rapid City, the sandwiches and unique deli-counter foods served in Chi-Town are also a big part of that lingering appeal.

"And now, Weidmann and his business partner have brought the essence of Chicago here to the Black Hills by way of their new restaurant, 'taste of Chicago' that opened last week on North LaCrosse Street.

One minute with Weidmann, and just a few steps into his new eatery, are all it takes to see how deeply the native Chicagoan feels about the city where he grew up.

"This is my whole history; this is where I come from," said Weidmann, 54, a former national union official who has lived in Rapid City since 1990. "You get a good feeling coming in here."

Part of that vibe comes from the restaurant decor, which provides a heavy dose of Weidmann's love affair with all things Chicago.

Flat-screen TVs will show all Chicago sports teams when they're in action; a photo of the city skyline adorns the sign outside; and giant display cases hold every form of memorabilia about the Cubbies, White Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls, and of course, the Chicago Bears (one gem is a 1920s roster form for a Bears-Packers game signed by legends George Halas and Curly Lambeau).

Wiedmann's business partner is Tom Cone II, 56, of Rapid City, a retired Air Force employee who formerly ran Dogsters hot dog shop on Main Street. Beyond the accoutrements and vibe the small restaurant exudes, the partners are most proud of their traditional Chicago-style food.

While you won't find the famous Chicago deep-dish pizza, almost everything else the city is famous for is on the "taste of Chicago" menu. The most recognizable item is the Chicago Dogster, a classic hot dog in a poppyseed bun topped with cucumber, onions, hot peppers, a tomato slice, relish, mustard, celery salt and a pickle spear on the side.

"It's a wonderful adventure," is how Weidmann described the dog, that like most menu items can be had for less than $5 with a bag of chips.

Italian beef and other sandwiches, chili, potato chips made in Chicago, and Chi-town's famed Tom Tom Tamales round out the menu. Beer will be served as soon as city permits can be obtained, Weidmann said.

"Those of us from Chicago are very passionate about many things: our food, our sports teams, everything," he said.

At least one patron last week was already appreciating the new eatery. Todd Hollan of Rapid City said he got a good chili dog from the restaurant and would likely be back. Expressing passion on both counts, Hollan noted: "I love the city of Chicago, but I hate the Bears."

To be sure all food has that authentic Chicago flair, Weidmann and Cone will make regular trips in a van or SUV to the city to get supplies from Chi-town vendors. They plan to make the 26-hour round-trip road trip about once a month or so to pick up supplies in order to maintain the integrity of the "taste of Chicago."


Stories like this abound all over the country. Perhaps someone should roll up all these ex-pat Chicago joints into a national franchise. Perhaps call it Capone's.

5. Fry Cook On Venus.


Misdemeanor battery? Please. First-world pranks deserve first-world punishments. A weekend working in a soup kitchen should do it.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:25 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Black Flag at Reggies on Sunday night.


2. Eternal Summers at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.


3. Luciferum at Ultra Lounge on Saturday night.


4. Eddie Floyd and the Bar-Keys at the Blues Fest on Saturday night.


5. Larry McCray at the Blues Fest on Saturday.


6. Earnest "Guitar" Roy at the Blues Fest on Friday night.


7. Bojan Milosevic at the Blues Fest on Friday


8. Donna Herula and Tony Nardiello at the Blues Fest on Friday.


9. P Bone and Donuts at the Blues Fest on Friday.


10. Willie Buck at the Chicago Blues Fest on Sunday.


11. Mucca Pazza at Ribfest Chicago on Saturday.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:27 AM | Permalink

Honestly Unlikable

The two little guys sitting down the right-field line on Family Sunday immediately caught my attention. There they were with identical black t-shirts bearing the number 32 on the back with the word "Dunn" unabashedly resting across their shoulders.

Sitting with their mom and dad on one of the first truly comfortable days for baseball at the Cell were Bryan, 6, and his brother Boedy, 8.

"I see you're wearing Adam Dunn t-shirts," I said. "Is he your favorite player?"

Both nodded affirmatively.

"Why do you like him?" I asked.

"'Cause he hits home runs," said Boedy.

"Yeah, but doesn't he strike out a lot?" I said.

"Sometimes," said Bryan.

Ahhh, the joys of childhood. We need to do so little to make kids happy and pleased. When Tyler Flowers hit a towering shot into the left-field seats to tie the score at 1 in the third inning, the brothers asserted that Flowers, a .214 hitter, is their second most favorite player.

Notwithstanding their two well-played wins over Oakland this past weekend, the Sox honestly are not likable. What draws us to a gang that screws up routine plays, leaves runners on base inning after inning, issues walks at the worst possible times, and strikes out with alarming regularity? Whether you're eight or 80, what's there to like?

But that's not the way the game works.

I remember my father, a Cincinnatian for the first 43 years of his life and an avid Reds fan, for his loyalty to a team that never rose higher than fifth place from 1946 to 1955 in the eight-team National League. In fact, in that time the Reds never finished .500.

But listening to Waite Hoyt, the former Yankee pitcher who was the voice of the Reds for 24 years on WLW, describe yet another loss, my dad would get excited about the likes of Johnny Wyrostek and Bobby Adams.

The former was a lifetime .271 hitter with no power but a solid player on a terrible team. It seemed like every time he got a hit - which was not infrequently - my dad would say, "That's my boy!"

And Adams, who played both second and third base for the Reds for 10 years, was a hustler and ready to play every day. My dad liked that.

On Sunday when I asked Roed, a 15-year-old sitting in front of us, if he had a favorite Sox player, he was silent for a bit, before whispering, "not really." But after a little more reflection he said that maybe Paul Konerko had earned his admiration because "he's been here for quite a while."

Longevity clearly is a means for developing the relationship between player and fan, although in this age of free agency, intricate contracts and the "bottom line," players switch teams almost as often as Dunn goes down swinging - or looking.

Konerko tied Nellie Fox - a Sox fixture at second base during the 1950s Go-Go Era - on Sunday by playing in his 2,115th game in a Sox uniform. Only Luke Appling has played in more games as a member of the South Siders.

There was no way not to love Nellie Fox. You knew exactly where he would be every Opening Day. You knew that he would play every day, hit close to .300, and run out each ground ball. He weighed just 160 pounds - the Mighty Mite - and he rarely struck out. This was what Most Favored Ballplayer was all about.

Konerko surely has reached or approached that level as he struggles to regain the skills he's displayed since first joining the team in 1999. The fans are far more patient with Paulie than they are for, say, Dayan Viciedo, a guy who showed so much promise last year in his first season with the club. Now the 24-year-old left fielder needs a crash course in Know Thy Strike Zone. If he completes it successfully, you'll see far more jerseys at the Cell next year with Viciedo emblazoned on the back.

With the team sitting on a 27-34 record, the buzz continues about the trades that loom next month if the Sox remain out of contention.

Jake Peavy is off the block because of his broken rib, but Alex Rios, a superb athlete with abundant talent who usually runs at three-quarter speed on routine ground balls, has surfaced as trade fodder. And the Sox drafted young shortstop Tim Anderson No. 1 last week, so maybe Alexei Ramirez is expendable.

Yet this light-hitting, loose-gloved team is drawing more fans this year than the contending outfit of 2012. Sunday's crowd of 31,033 was the largest since Opening Day, even surpassing the 30,631 when the Cubs visited the Cell on May 27 to hang a 7-0 loss on the Sox. The four-game series with Oakland averaged more than 24,000.

What makes management think it will do as well if it starts to unload its top players in a few weeks? Obviously the thinking is similar to that on the North Side: sacrifice the present for a bright future. We'll see how well that turns out on the other side of town.
What does appear to be working for the Sox is their "premium pricing." We had no tickets for yesterday's game and were told at the ticket window that outfield seats were "sold out," two words seldom used at 35th and Shields.

Not only that, but fans of all ages knew what was going on, cheering at the appropriate times in the late innings as Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain - he might be baseball's most effective pitcher this season - and Addison Reed kept the A's in check to preserve the win for gutsy Hector Santiago.

The Cell was alive. You'd have thought the game meant something, and maybe it did. If the men on the field can gather some of the fans' energy, they certainly would be more likable.


Roger Wallenstein is our man on the Sox. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

June 8, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence Sandi Jackson to 18 months in prison to be served prior to a a four-year prison term they are asking for her husband, Jesse Jr., so their kids won't have both parents in prison at the same time.

The Jacksons, on the other hand, will suggest to the judge that the best way to ease the transition and maintain some normalcy would be for Sandi to serve in prison in Chicago during the week and then return to their Washington home to tend to the kids over the weekend, and for Junior to serve in prison in Chicago over the weekend after tending to the kids in Washington during the week.

Also, a third of Junior's prison commissary fund would go to Sandi for consulting fees.


Thanks to the NSA for reading the first few drafts of that item and suggesting changes to make it pop a little more.


Also, if you're thinking about seeing a movie this weekend, the NSA is now making suggestions based on your psychographic profile.


By the way, Pope Francis just made the list of suspicious persons.


Chicago-based Boeing also stealing from poor people.


As is DePaul. Irony!

Friday News Dump
Quinn Restores UNO Funding.

To really keep it quiet, the governor made the announcement outside the reach of the NSA by writing it out longhand on paper, reading it to himself, then eating it.


Also, the check will just be made out to CASH.

Rubber Stamp Wire
Deb Mell set to vote yes on every Emanuel initiative for foreseeable future.


Memo to Progressive Caucus: Breed faster.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: All ears.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Does January's best album still hold up in June? After submitting their favorite records to months of listening, Jim and Greg unveil the Best Albums of 2013 . . . So Far. Plus, Queens of the Stone Age are back; Jim and Greg review . . . Like Clockwork."


The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Pardon our dust.


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

Feminism & Abolition Lecture with Angela Davis


Political scholar and activist Angela Davis lectures on "Feminism & Abolition: Theories & Practices for the 21st Century."

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.


Women for Compassionate Immigration Reform


A coalition of women's and immigrant groups kick off a national campaign advocating for immigration reforms that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, keep families together, and allow women to report domestic abuse without fear of being deported.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.


The Legacy Project 2013


Keynote speaker Aaron Jackson shares his story of constructing Equality House as a symbol of equality across the street from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church at this event celebrating LGBT individuals past and present. Hosted by WGN-TV's Sean Lewis.

Sunday at noon on CAN TV21.


"Still in the Shadows?" A Town Hall on Immigration


The Chicago Reporter hosts a community forum on immigration reform. Chicagoans affected by deportations and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez discuss their impact and the state of reform legislation in Congress.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.


Gun Violence: Chicago Under Fire


A Sip of Inspiration host Stephanie Wilson-Coleman interviews guests about what they and their organizations are doing to reduce gun violence in Chicago. Guests include Ameena Matthews of Cure Violence and Rev. Gwindol P. Tate of R.I.S.E. Ministries.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV19.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:27 AM | Permalink

June 7, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"Chicago Public Schools touted a smooth start to the school closing process this week by announcing that 78 percent of students at schools being shut down have been enrolled at another school, most at the one designated for them by the district," the Tribune reports.

"But the district's figure may be inflated, as administrators at some closing schools said that because they were under pressure to get children signed up, they went ahead and enrolled students whose parents could not be contacted."

Has any figure that's come out of CPS in the last two years not been inflated, deflated, massaged, spun, shaded, invented, fudged or conjured out of thin air?


"Tanya Saunders-Wolffe, a counselor at Owens Elementary on the Far South Side, said her school's administration was told by officials with the district's regional network to enroll children whose parents had not participated in an early enrollment program.

"She said about two-thirds of the school's students were enrolled that way for next year. Owens was one of 12 schools that CPS records show have 100 percent of their students enrolled for the coming year."

So the real number is about 33 percent. Isn't this theft of honest services? Paging the U.S. Attorney!


"'We did what we were told,' Saunders-Wolffe said. 'We were told by the network to automatically enroll students in welcoming schools where parents did not respond.'

"A principal at a South Side school that is being closed, who asked not to be identified, said staff enrolled about a quarter of their students at the CPS-designated receiving school after being unable to reach their parents through notes and phone calls.

"A source at CPS headquarters confirmed that schools were pressed to get students enrolled early and that officials were concerned about some of the enrollment figures.

"CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll denied that there has been any pressure on schools to enroll students and said there was no directive to enroll students without parents' consent."

So everyone is lying - except the one person paid to do so.


"Children could not be enrolled unless their parent was there in person with ID to enroll their student," Carroll said.

So CPS will open an investigation into widespread fraud?

Separate And Unequal
"As she made her case for closing dozens of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett promised that each child whose school disappeared would be saved a place in a higher-performing school," the Sun-Times reports.

Well, that we already know is not true. But go on.

"The CPS CEO also guaranteed new science or arts programs in 19 of the schools taking in those displaced children and great investments in all the receiving schools: air conditioning, libraries and iPads.

"But after the dust settles, and many school boundaries are redrawn, not all children living in the shadow of a closing school will reap these benefits."

Has CPS ever made an assertion in the last two years that hasn't been proven wrong? I'm not even sure they're giving out the right address for headquarters anymore.


"Boundaries are being redrawn for 12 of the 48 schools closing this month, so some children new to the neighborhood will not be sent to the receiving school, but to another nearby neighborhood school. In three of those cases, that neighborhood option is academically worse than what CPS calls the 'designated welcoming school.'"

In none of those cases, though, are the mayor's children involved. He just wouldn't stand for it.

"This is just messed up, it's really upsetting," said Laronda Smith, 30, who has two children at West Pullman and smaller kids at home. The family lives on the north side of 119th Street, a borderline determining where her children could be sent. "I don't know where my kids are going to go."

"With West Pullman, families who move south of 119th Street will send their children not to Alex Haley Elementary School, which has a good rating, but to Metcalfe Elementary Community Academy, which is on probation with the worst rating.

"Around Henson, preschoolers living east of Pulaski Road will not follow older neighbors to Charles Hughes Elementary School, which has a good rating; rather, they will be directed to Herzl Elementary school, which has the lowest rating and is on probation.

"And near Paderewski, students living north of Cermak Road will go to Penn Elementary School or Crown Community Academy of Fine Arts Center, which both currently have CPS' worst rating and are on probation."


"CPS says the boundary changes, along with other details of the closings, were decided with community input.

"'We heard from communities that they might have wanted a certain school to be accessible to the school community,' but under CPS guidelines it wasn't good enough to be a welcoming school, said Adam Anderson, district head of portfolio, planning and strategy."

So by "community input" CPS means they "heard from communities" and then ignored their wishes.


"CPS won't guarantee the same investments as the receiving schools for these other schools, but may send extra help to these struggling schools if enough new children show up, Anderson said, though he couldn't specify how much support or how many children would trigger some extra support."

In other words, official receiving schools win the lottery and everyone else is screwed.


"And though children too young for school now won't be guaranteed a place in any of the schools initially designated 'welcoming' schools, younger siblings will be given preference to follow their older brothers and sisters, he said: 'We don't separate families.'"

We won't separate families, though we won't guarantee that we won't separate families.

Attention Deficit
"Despite the lack of pension relief in Springfield, Chicago Public Schools has developed the outline of a plan to completely eliminate a projected $1 billion deficit for the school year that begins July 1," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

Wow! Send CPS to Washington!

"CPS officials are confirming that the plan, which is not yet final, relies heavily on one-time revenues, especially an earlier-than-usual receipt of local property-tax and state revenues. The plan also is likely to include a property tax increase similar to this year's $62-million hike."

And that comes to $1 billion how?

"Officials say the financial plan will allow schools to open on time and without major cuts in service, under the preliminary school-by-school budgets that were released to principals last week.

"But the very fact that the CPS has been able to eliminate such a large deficit will raise some questions about how real the projected $1 billion figure really was."

In other words, the public rationale for closing 50 schools is not credible - especially considering that the move isn't likely to save a penny.

The Political Odds
Revised and revamped to reflect recent developments.

Beachwood Photo Booth
Yum Yum Donuts.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Including: Sharon Van Etten, The Hush Sound, Paws, Shemekia Copeland, and Speck Mountain.

Dead Republicans, Einstein's Mistake & God's Wife
Among the offerings from Midwestern authors at this weekend's Printers Row Lit Fest.


Meter Madness 2.0



Obama: Lincoln To Bush To Nixon





The Beachwood Tip Line: Making lemonade.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

Dead Republicans, Einstein's Mistake & God's Wife

The Printers Row Lit Fest isn't just one of the region's biggest literary events, it's also a chance to buy autographed books from writers in the Society of Midland Authors. During the festival this Saturday and Sunday, please visit our table (tent space G-3) on Dearborn Street just south of Harrison Street in Chicago's South Loop area. The following authors are scheduled to sell and sign their books at our table.


10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Mark Zubro, author of Another Dead Republican, Black and Blue and Pretty Dead Too.

10 a.m.-2 p.m.: A representative of the Irish Books Arts & Music celebration will also be on hand with information about that event.

Noon-2 p.m.: Jim Bowman, author of Company Man: My Jesuit Life, 1950-1968.

2-4 p.m.: George Kufrin, author of Lucky George: The Unforgettable Adventures of a Free-Lance Photographer.

2-4 p.m.: Lynn Voedisch, author of Dateline: Atlantis and The God's Wife.

2-4 p.m.: Eckhard Gerdes, author of 23 Skidoo! 23 Form-Fitting Poems.

4-6 p.m.: Robert Loerzel, author of Alchemy of Bones: Chicago's Luetgert Murder Case of 1897.


10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m.: Gerry and Janet Souter, authors of American Shooter, Diego Rivera and The Founding of the United States.

Noon-2 p.m.: Werner Krieglstein, author of Einstein's Mistake.

Noon-2 p.m.: Owen Hurd, author of After the Fact: The Surprising Fates of American History's Heroes, Villains, and Supporting Characters and Chicago History for Kids.

2-4 p.m.: Holly Rozner, author of Trade Secrets.

4-6 p.m.: Mahmoud Saeed, author of The World Through the Eyes of Angels and Ben Barka Lane.

4-6 p.m.: Anastasia Royal, author of Undoing I Do and co-author of The Royal Treatment.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:21 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts

On the occasion of National Donut Day . . .

Yum Yum Donuts used to sit in the shadow of Chicago's historic Wrigley Field! Always chock-full of regulars, Yum Yum Donuts was loved and is missed. Taken some time during the 1990s, I was fortunate enough to capture Yum Yum's own history! Super classic, too, as it was taken with old-fashioned black and white 35mm film!

yumyumdonutsetrszc.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)


You can buy it!

TITLE: "Yum Yum Donuts"

MEDIUM: photography, black and white, 35mm film

SIZE: 8x12 inches, borderless

PAPER: acid-free, Fuji archival paper

FINISH: glossy


Purchase through Etsy.


All prints will be signed by the artist, Helene Smith. (Copyright, 2013)


CLICK HERE to VIEW my other CHICAGO photos!


* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:36 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Sharon Van Etten at Millennium Park on Monday night.


2. The Hush Sound at the Metro on Tuesday night.


3. Paws at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.


4. Shemekia Copeland opening the Blues Fest at Millennium Park on Thursday night.


5. Speck Mountain at Millennium Park on Monday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:29 AM | Permalink

June 6, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"Debt-ridden Roseland Community Hospital's doors will remain open, at least for the next two weeks," WBEZ reports.

"Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is giving the Chicago South Side hospital $350,000 in temporary emergency help, which allows Roseland to meet its payroll through June 17. The hospital had asked for $7 million.

"Quinn's office has said Roseland needs a viable plan amid mismanagement. The money is conditional: Independent financial experts will review the budget and the hospital must hire an independent chief restructuring officer."


"[Resigned CEO Dian] Powell told the Tribune on Wednesday that the governor's office pressured board members to push her aside in favor of new leadership. She said she developed a comprehensive plan that aimed to save about $8.4 million and presented it to officials from Quinn's office, but never heard back from them.

"Further, she said, Roseland began building the adolescent behavioral health unit before she became CEO. Although Powell was the hospital's board chair at the time, she said the decision was made by former CEO Earmon Irons Jr. with a promise from [state Sen. Emil Jones III] to fund the project with $3 million from the state.

"'If there was bad judgment, bad management, it happened with (Irons), who used operations money based on what the senator had promised,' said Powell, who acknowledged the hospital did not have anything in writing guaranteeing the commitment."


Soup sandwich.

A Very Special Session
"Gov. Pat Quinn today called lawmakers back into special session June 19 to deal with the public employee pension shortfall after another rating agency downgraded Illinois' credit rating," the Tribune reports.

I sure hope Shirley gets that message to Mike.


Michael Madigan may miss the special session because he doesn't have a car. Or a bus pass. Or permission from his doctor. Plus, his dog ate his pension plan. And he only had one copy. Because he wrote it by hand. And doesn't know how to work a copy machine.

Wet Debt
"Moody's Investors Service on Thursday downgraded Illinois' general obligation credit rating by one notch - to the lowest rating in the state's history - following a move earlier this week by Fitch Ratings," Reuters reports.

Worse, the Outfit also downgraded Illinois to one kneecap and a nine fingers.

Billy Boy
"Former White House Chief-of-Staff Bill Daley has a history of flirting with running for governor and U.S. senator only to back off in the end, but he said Thursday he's 'not teasing this time,'" the Sun-Times reports.

So he's running?

He's not saying yet. Which is sort of a tease.


If he's not teasing this time, does that mean he was teasing all those other times?


I sense he's trying to force Lisa Madigan's hand. I'm not sure it can be forced.

Local Music Notebook
Including: The Return of Robbie Fulks & The Duet Nobody Asked For (Hint: It Involves Taylor Swift).

Chicago Woman Hates Being So Pretty
And the Chicago Museum of Broadcoast Communications runs out of ideas. In Local TV Notebook.

Emily's Brain Scoop
A YouTube success story.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Gluten-free.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 PM | Permalink

Emily's Brain Scoop

"The Field Museum has hired YouTube personality Emily Graslie as its first-ever chief curiosity correspondent," Crain's reports.

"The 23-year-old stars in the online video show The Brain Scoop, which the Field says has more than 2.4 million video views."

Here are some of those videos.


Horns vs. Antlers.


Skinning the Wolf.


Beetles 'n' Bats.


A Bear Skull.


See also:
* Emily's Wikipedia page
* Emily's Tumblr
* Bug Earrings
* Spark Interview


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Chicago Woman Tells National Audience She Just Hates Being So Pretty & Other Inexplicable Television Events

1. "Dana Adiva" Not Only Overly Flatters Herself (If You're So Beautiful, Why Do You Need So Much Goddamn Makeup?), She's A Terrible Human Being.

True Life - Full Episodes


See also:
* Dana Adiva Bemoans Sorry Lot In Life
* "It Sucks Being Pretty"
* Blond Wrestler Says Being Beautiful Has Been Tough


Plus: From her Facebook page:

I feel horrible for Paris Jackson she is way to pretty to be doing that to her self life is to short to be doing that to your self and wish her nothing but the best and to get better soon

Because only ugly people have a reason to commit suicide.


2. Chicago Broadcast Museum Out Of Ideas.

"Tragic former child star Gary Coleman's young life is to be remembered as part of a retrospective exhibition in his native Chicago, Illinois," Starpulse reports.

"The late Diff'rent Strokes star's poetry, illustrations and correspondence with stars like Bob Hope and Lucille Ball will be on display for three months at the Museum of Broadcast Communications from 26 June (13)."


3. Take The Hint, Hollywood.

"Village leaders in the Chicago suburb of Inverness are shooting down a production company's request to film a reality TV show about family members of infamous Chicago gangster Al Capone," AP reports.

"The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports that a Los Angeles company had hoped to spend two months shooting The Capones in a seven-bedroom mansion in the northwest suburb."

And the problem was . . . ?

"Police Chief Bob Haas says city leaders were concerned about public safety and wanted more time to consider a zoning change to the site."

Dear Hollywood: That's our way of asking you to, um, make some key investments in the local economy. Consider it a convenience fee.


"The show, set to broadcast on the Reelz network this fall, follows the 'drama-filled, lasagna-loving dysfunctional family' of Dom Capone, who owns an Italian restaurant in Lombard."


4. Pawn Spawn.

"A celebrity pawn store's spawn is bringing pawn battles to a new city - Hammond, Ind.," NBC Chicago reports.

"Wayne Cohen, co-star of the reality television series Hardcore Pawn: Chicago, has reportedly opened a new store dubbed Super Pawn in Hammond, Ind., nearly across the street from the city's established EZ Pawn, according to the Northwest Indiana Times."


5. New Charges Against TV Host.

"Charges of child sex abuse have been lodged against a Chicago Spanish-language music producer and television host already charged in the assault of an 11-year-old girl," the Tribune reports.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Robbie Fulks vs. Taylor Swift

1. From Bloodshot HQ:

"Like a misfit boomerang circling back around, we are thrilled to announce that Chicago-based artist Robbie Fulks has returned to the Bloodshot Records roster fold.

"Robbie will release a new full-length entitled Gone Away Backward on August 27.

"The 12-song album - and his first on the label since 2001 - was recorded and mixed by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago, and will be available on CD/LP/digital.


"We asked Robbie for his thoughts on the new album and on coming back to the Bloodshot stable, and here's what he had to say:

As opposed to this idea that I'm "coming back to Bloodshot" (the verb 'crawling' has also been muttered behind sleeves) I don't feel like I ever left.

For sure I never slammed the door behind me in proud, valedictory defiance. Well, not since 1997 anyhow. Since then, I've co-released 2 records with them (Very Best of [me] in 1999 and 13 Hillbilly Giants in 2001), doing separate runs on my imprint and theirs. I used their retail distribution network and other resources on Couples in Trouble in 2001. I contributed to compilations they put out in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006, and played for their 15th anniversary in 2011. Also in '11 they helped me market my little tribute to Michael Jackson.

Most people would pick "Put out a Michael Jackson tribute record" as the best definitive answer to the question, "How do I make Bloodshot Records go away?" However, Bloodshot Records won't go away. I see them at shows and seminars and parties and, in the case of Rob, wherever liquor is sold. When I go down to the Bloodshot office to buy records from my catalogue, there they are. Bloodshot. One reason I see Nan and Rob with some frequency is that we live in the same general area. Chicago is a big place, but the country music community is quite small. When you exclude style-hopping working stiffs who occasionally slap on Stetsons, and the usual corporately polished radio-imitation nonsense, there's maybe 10 of us. No, there's 9 - Kelly [Hogan] went to Wisconsin. So fate has really thrown us into the same cramped cauldron. Not a bad place to be at all. At this point, I think we're kind of impressed, with each other and ourselves, that we're still in the game; the smart money 20 years ago was on our being wards of the state by now.

"We couldn't have said it any better. Welcome home, Robbie! - Love, Bloodshot Records."


Fulks continues his Monday night residency at the Hideout throughout the summer. You can also catch him at the Chicago Craft Beer Festival on June 23 at St. Michael Church.


2. The new Rockie Fresh video.


3. Remembering Piano C. Red.

"Chicago blues piano player Piano C. Red, who performed with Muddy Waters, B.B King, Fats Domino and Buddy Guy before being paralyzed in 2006, has died," AP reports.

"Red's son, James Britton, confirmed Tuesday that his 79-year-old father died Monday. He says his father's health had been deteriorating since the shooting that paralyzed him. Red was shot during a robbery.

"In a news release, publicist June Rosner says Red spent years driving a cab by day and playing in the city's blues clubs at night. She says Red began playing professionally in Chicago at age 19."

Living In The Shack.


Cab Driving Man.


Tribune interview four years ago with Red from the Glencrest Nursing & Rehab Center where he was living.


4. Remembering Marvin Junior.

"Dells lead singer Marvin Junior has died of kidney failure at his home in Harvey," the Sun-Times reports. He was 77.

"His doo-wop and soul quintet formed 60 years ago, singing gospel as freshmen students at Thornton Township High School. They were inducted in 2004 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and had seven gold singles, three gold albums and 25 top 40 hits. Mr. Junior sang lead on the Dells' biggest hit - 'Oh, What a Night,' recorded in 1956."


5. Forgotten Heroes: Terry Kath.

"In 1968, the Chicago Transit Authority found themselves playing a show at the renowned L.A. club the Whisky a Go Go," Corbin Reiff writes for Premier Guitar.

"The gig itself was unremarkable, just another in a long series of dates they'd been playing since changing their name from the Big Thing. It was what happened after the show that made this evening memorable for the group - and especially for their guitarist. According to the band's saxophonist Walter Parazaider, after the show, 'This guy came up very quietly and tapped me on the shoulder. He says, Hi, I'm Jimi Hendrix. I've been watching you guys and I think your guitarist is better than me.'

"The guitarist Hendrix was referring to was Terry Kath, and whether or not the above story is true or apocryphal is immaterial: The fact that one could hear Kath and then judge the story plausible matters as much as its authenticity.

"And among those who either witnessed his prowess firsthand or came to know it after his untimely demise at the age of 31, it is virtually unanimous that Kath is one of the most criminally underrated guitarists to have ever set finger to fretboard.

"Give a listen to what many consider to be Chicago's signature song, '25 or 6 to 4,' one is instantly transfixed by the punch of the chromatically descending opening riff, the funky fills, the slippery licks, and the tones that range from wooly fuzz to searing, wah-inflected colors."


6. L.A. Band Hits Chicago's Pavement.

"Los Angeles rock act Smile Empty Soul will release its new album, Chemicals, in the fall," Blabbermouth reports.

"The CD will mark the band's first release through their own imprint, Two Disciples Entertainment, in conjunction with a unique business venture through Chicago's Pavement Entertainment. Distribution and marketing will be handled through Pavement via RED (a division of Sony Music Entertainment) and MRI in North America and through RSK Entertainment in Europe and the rest of the world."

From the SES vault:


7. Remembering Clarence Burke Jr.

"Clarence Burke Jr., the lead singer of the Five Stairsteps, a sibling rhythm-and-blues group that had its best-known hit in 1970 with 'O-o-h Child,' died on Sunday in Marietta, Ga.," the New York Times reports. "He had turned 64 the day before.

"The Five Stairsteps - four brothers and a sister - formed in Chicago in the mid-1960s, having learned to play instruments and sing from their father, Clarence Sr., a police officer, and their mother, Betty. They were once called 'the first family of soul,' a moniker later adopted by the Jackson 5."


8. Date Palms Thrill Boing Boing.

"A lovely video complement to the sun-bleached minimalist psychedelia of Date Palms' 'Yuba Reprise,' from their album The Dusted Sessions due out [in June] on Thrill Jockey."


9. Kids These Days.

"Just when it looked like they were really going to go places, Chicago band Kids These Days has split up," the Sun-Times reported last month.

"The young South Side band, which encompassed a multitude of styles, just released its acclaimed debut album, Traphouse Rock, last fall. In little more than a year, the pop-rock-rap collective landed gigs at Lollapalooza and Coachella, a showcase at South by Southwest and an appearance on the TBS talk show Conan."


10. The duet nobody asked for.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:14 AM | Permalink

June 5, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The head of Roseland Community Hospital has stepped down, and the facility's vice president said the state does not owe Roseland $6 million, as the hospital claimed earlier this week," CBS2 Chicago reports.

What in the world?

"Roseland CEO Dian Powell resigned on Tuesday, a day after she claimed the hospital was in danger of closing because the state owed it $6 million in unpaid bills.

"However, on Tuesday, Roseland vice president Sharon Thurman said the state doesn't owe the hospital any money. She acknowledged the state recently made an advance payment of more than $950,000 - money it expects to owe the hospital through the end of the year - to help keep Roseland open.

"The hospital had said it would stop accepting patients on Wednesday due to its financial problems, but an employee said Wednesday morning Roseland was still accepting patients at this time."


"Sources say that Roseland Community Hospital's board of directors is working with Governor Pat Quinn's office to come up with a plan to keep the hospital running," ABC7 Chicago reports.


So far, reports allege mismanagement - not fraud - on the part of Powell. If that's true, where has the board and the state been all this time? With more than a hundred layoffs and an estimated $5.4 million loss this year, it never should have been allowed to get this far.

Wide Receivers
"CPS announced on Thursday that half of the students from closing schools have enrolled in new schools and, so far, the vast majority - some 86 percent - are going to the designated receiving schools," Sarah Karp reports for Catalyst.

"But a breakdown of enrollment numbers by school shows wide variation among parents declaring where they will send their children in the fall. At King on the West Side and Parkman and Bontemps on the South Side, fewer than 10 percent of parents enrolled their children in new schools. At Stockton on the North Side, where the building is not closing but Courtenay's staff is taking over Stockton's building, nearly everyone enrolled, according to CPS data.

"CPS officials had said they wanted all parents to fill out forms indicating where they will go by Friday, 10 days after the historic vote to shutter 50 schools. However, district officials acknowledge that some parents might still be deciding where to send their children.

"'Parents who remain undecided can also register their child throughout the summer leading up to the start of the school year on August 26,' a press release states."


"One big question is whether schools with excess capacity under CPS guidelines, but with waiting lists for special magnet or selective programs, have to take students. This was tested on Thursday by a group of parents organized by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.

"Education organizer Jitu Brown took mothers and grandmothers from South Side schools - Overton, Williams and Parkman - to Pritzker Elementary School in Wicker Park. The receiving schools for Overton and Williams are the poorest-rated in the district, while the receiving school for Parkman has a mid-level rating."

Click through to read how that went.

Clown's Lawyer
"Rick Halprin, a prominent criminal defense attorney whose clients included the infamous mobster Joey 'The Clown' Lombardo, died Tuesday of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Hyde Park condominium, authorities said," the Tribune reports.

"Mr. Halprin, 73, was pronounced dead at 10 a.m. Tuesday in his home in the 1000 block of East 53rd Street, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. The office listed a preliminary cause of death as a suicide, but an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday."

Sad: "Authorities were serving an eviction notice at his condominium when his body was found, said police News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli."

Sadder: "A busy lawyer and avid hockey player, Mr. Halprin suffered from severe back pain that in recent years had forced him to give up both activities, Murphy said.

"He played hockey until he was 70. That was one of his biggest disappointments - that he couldn't play hockey," said [law partner William] Murphy.

Halprin naturally showed up in my 2005 Chicago magazine profile of Lombardo. Click through to see how.

Can You Hear Him Now?
"Gov. Pat Quinn learned Tuesday that keeping up the pressure on legislative leaders to strike a deal on pension reform will be no easy task after House Speaker Michael Madigan failed to phone in to a meeting held on the topic," the Tribune reports.

"While the gathering with Senate President John Cullerton appeared to be designed to show the public that Quinn isn't giving up on pension changes despite two years of inaction, the lack of participation by Madigan only underscored the continued dysfunction among the state's ruling Democrats.

"Quinn had been told by Madigan's staff that the speaker was out of state, but the governor said he hoped Madigan would call in to the meeting. That didn't happen.

"He was unavailable," Quinn told reporters at an unrelated stop Tuesday. "He doesn't have a cellphone. I did leave a message for his wife."

For my thoughts on that, see @BeachwoodReport.

Obama's Afghan Massacre Cover-Up
Another promise broken.

Cubs Studs
No kidding. In Fantasy Fix.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Lay it down, clown.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

June 4, 2013

Fantasy Fix: Prospecting The Prospects

This season marks the first time that Yahoo! fantasy baseball team owners have had available to them a "Not Available" position designation, meaning they can stash a minor leaguer (classified by "NA" on the waiver wire) on their roster without having to waste a live roster spot.

Many fantasy owners probable saw their NA bets begin to pay off this week with the debut if Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, who has been compared to Bo Jackson in size, skills and ability to generate hype. So, with Puig in play, who are some other prospects worth watching?

Wil Myers, OF, TAM: There's an any-day-now vibe about Myers right now, as he has been hitting well in the minors and none of Tampa's current big-league outfielders are playing well enough to keep him there. If Myers happens to be available in your league, and your NA spot is open, snap him up - though he won't continue to be NA for long.

Tony Cingrani, SP, CIN: He had a few cups of coffee earlier this year, and seems destined to make it back up in the second half after recording 41 strikeouts in 33 innings. At Triple A Louisville, he has been dominant, with 49 strikeouts in 31 innings and a 0.80 WHIP.

Zack Wheeler, SP, NYM: There's a lot of buzz about Wheeler being called up as early as this week, so if you drafted him or picked him up early in the year when the rumors first started flying, he's an NA bet that is about to pay off. For Triple A Las Vegas, he has 59 strikeouts in 58 innings, with a 4-1 record.

Christian Yelich, OF, MIA: He had an outstanding spring that made me think he would be called up much earlier when Giancarlo Stanton went down with an injury. He reportedly has been slumping in the minors, but seems like a virtual lock to arrive in the second half, especially if Stanton gets traded.

Billy Hamilton, SS, CIN: The speedster was drafted in many leagues, but has been dropped gradually throughout the season as it became clear the Reds are very good without him, and also are committed to training him to be an outfielder. Despite leading the Triple A level with 30 SBs, he has the feeling of a September call-up, meaning your NA spot would be better spent elsewhere.

Oscar Taveras, OF, STL: When the NA spot became a reality, he was as popular a pick-and-stash candidate as Myers, but barring a catastrophe for the Cardinals, we may not see him until the end of the year.

Gerrit Cole, SP, PIT: Given the unpredictability of Francisco Liriano, the man who is currently at the end of the Pirates' starting rotation, and the desire of the Pirates to put nearly two decades of losing seasons to bed, Cole seems like a good bet to arrive sooner rather than later. He's holding Triple A batters to a collective .195 batting average.

Expert Wire
* notes how Cubs starting pitchers have become fantasy studs. No, really.

* Rant Sports says to add Park Ridge's Luke Gregorson with Huston Street DL'd again.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:20 PM | Permalink

Four Years Ago Obama Promised To Investigate Afghan Massacre. Has Anything Happened Since?

In his first year in office, President Barack Obama pledged to "collect the facts" on the death of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Taliban prisoners of war at the hands of U.S.-allied Afghan forces in late 2001.

Almost four years later, there's no sign of progress.

When asked by ProPublica about the state of the investigation, the White House says it is still "looking into" the apparent massacre. Yet no facts have been released and it's far from clear what, if any, facts have been collected.

Human rights researchers who originally uncovered the case say they've seen no evidence of an active investigation.

The deaths happened as Taliban forces were collapsing in the wake of the American invasion of Afghanistan. Thousands of Taliban prisoners had surrendered to the forces of a U.S.-supported warlord named Abdul Rashid Dostum. The prisoners, say survivors and other witnesses, were stuffed into shipping containers without food or water. Many died of suffocation. Others were allegedly killed when Dostum's men shot at the containers.

A few months later, a mass grave was found nearby in Dasht-i-Leili, a desert region of northern Afghanistan.

The New York Times reported in 2009 that the Bush administration, sensitive to criticism of a U.S. ally, had discouraged investigations into the incident. In response, Obama told CNN that "if it appears that our conduct in some way supported violations of the laws of war, I think that we have to know about that."

A White House spokeswoman told ProPublica that there has indeed been some kind of review - and that it's still ongoing: "At the direction of the president, his national security team is continuing its work looking into the Dasht-i-Leili massacre." She declined to provide more details.

"This seems quite half-hearted and cynical," said Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy at Physicians for Human Rights, the group that discovered the grave site in 2002 and since then has pushed for an investigation.

The group sent a letter to the president in December 2011, the 10th anniversary of the incident. In a follow-up meeting some months later, senior State Department officials told Physicians for Human Rights that there was nothing new to share.

"This has been a hot potato that no one wanted to deal with, and now it's gone cold," said Norah Niland, former director of human rights for the United Nations in Afghanistan.

Human rights advocates have long said the responsibility for a comprehensive investigation lies with the U.S., because American forces were allied with Dostum and his men at the time. Surviving prisoners have also claimed that Americans were present when the containers were loaded, though that's never been corroborated.

A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that the Department of Defense "found no evidence of U.S. service member participation, knowledge, or presence. A broader review of the facts is beyond D.O.D.'s purview." That initial review has never been made public.

At this point, say advocates, an investigation should address not just the question of U.S. involvement, but also what the U.S. did in the years that followed to foster accountability.

"I'm not saying Dostum ordered these people killed, and I'm not saying U.S. troops participated," said Stefan Schmitt, a forensic specialist with Physicians for Human Rights. "All I'm saying is there are hundreds if not thousands of people that went missing. In a country that's looking to have peace, to be under the rule of law, you need to answer these questions."

Initially excited by Obama's statement, researchers with Physicians for Human Rights peppered the administration with their findings. But the response was "murky at best," said Sirkin.

"We were never very clear on who within the administration was delegated the task," she said. Current and former administration officials interviewed by ProPublica couldn't say which agency or department had the job.

Sirkin and others eventually resigned themselves to the fact that Obama, in his televised remarks, had not specifically called for a full investigation. With the U.S. now withdrawing from Afghanistan, many observers say it's no surprise that investigating Dasht-i-Leili is no longer a priority.

Dostum still holds considerable sway in Northern Afghanistan, though he has fallen in and out of favor with the U.S. and with Afghan president Hamid Karzai. The Times recently reported Dostum is one of several former warlords to whom Karzai passes on thousands of dollars in cash he receives from the CIA each month. (We were unable to reach Dostum himself for this story.

The Obama administration has been cool toward him in recent years, saying ahead of Afghanistan's elections in 2009 that the U.S. "maintains concerns about any leadership role for Mr. Dostum in today's Afghanistan."

Back in 2001, Dostum was far more important to the U.S. He was a U.S. proxy, fighting the Taliban as part of the Northern Alliance. American Special Forces famously rode on horseback alongside Dostum's men, advising and calling in airstrikes. The alliance took the city of Mazar-i-Sharif from the Taliban in one of the first major victories of the invasion in early November 2001.

The shipping container deaths occurred a few weeks later, when Taliban fighters who had surrendered to the Northern Alliance at the city of Kunduz were en route to a prison about 200 miles away.

That winter, Physicians for Human Rights discovered a mass grave at Dasht-i-Leili. A preliminary investigation exhumed several bodies that appeared to have died from suffocation. Stories began to circulate in the region and Newsweek and others published detailed accounts from surviving prisoners, truck drivers, and other witnesses.

The Times also reported that an FBI agent interviewing new Afghan arrivals to Guantanamo Bay prison in early 2002 heard consistent accounts of prisoners "stacked like cordwood," and death by suffocation and shooting. When the agent pressed for an investigation, he was reportedly told it was not his responsibility.

Dostum has said that he would welcome an investigation. He said that some 200 prisoners had indeed died in transit, but that the deaths were unintentional, the result of battlefield wounds.

Other estimates put the toll much higher.

A widely cited State Department memo from fall 2002 said that "the actual number may approach 2,000."

Around the same time, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell tasked his Ambassador for War Crimes, Pierre-Richard Prosper, with looking into Dasht-i-Leili. Prosper told ProPublica that due to the U.S. alliance with Dostum, Washington felt the U.S. should not take the lead in an investigation.

"We were in the middle of fighting, and we thought we should keep the lines clear, let someone else, the U.N. or Afghans, handle this," said Prosper.

But the newly installed Afghan government had neither the will nor the resources for a thorough investigation, and U.N. officials said they could not guarantee security. Witnesses and others involved in Dasht-i-Leili had already been killed and harassed, according to State Department memos.

A declassified Defense Department memo from February 2003 indicates the U.S. was not providing security for an investigation. The memo's author, Marshall Billingslea, told the Times in 2009, "I did get the sense that there was little appetite for this matter within parts of D.O.D." (Billingslea did not respond to our requests for comment.)

As the years went by, no one from the U.S., the U.N., or Afghanistan guarded the grave site. In 2008, reporters and researchers found empty pits where they had once found human remains. Satellite photos obtained later showed what appeared to be earth-moving equipment in the desert in 2006. Locals told McClatchy that Dostum's men had dug up the graves.

After Obama pledged in 2009 to look into the case, a parallel inquiry was begun the next year in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by current Secretary of State John Kerry.

The fate of that investigation is also unclear. The lead investigator, John Kiriakou, was a former CIA officer who was caught up in a criminal leak prosecution and is now in prison. Other Senate staffers could not provide details on Kiriakou's efforts. Physicians for Human Rights says contact from the committee fizzled out within a year.

New attention to Dasht-i-Leili had also been sparked within the U.N.'s mission in Afghanistan and the organization's High Commission on Human Rights, former U.N. officials said.

However, Peter Galbraith, who was the U.N.'s deputy special representative for Afghanistan until the fall of 2009, told ProPublica that "an investigation would've required a push from the U.S. It required the cooperation of the coalition forces." (Neither the U.N. mission in Afghanistan nor the office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights responded to our requests for comment.)

The mass grave at Dasht-i-Leili is one of many left unexamined in Afghanistan. In late 2011, the nation's Independent Human Rights Commission concluded a massive report on decades of war crimes and human rights abuses, which reportedly documents 180 mass graves across the country. The region near Dasht-i-Leili is also believed to hold the remains of civilians massacred by the Taliban in 1998, in what Human Rights Watch called "one of the single worst examples of killings of civilians in Afghanistan's 20-year war." In all, the report named 500 individuals responsible for mass killings - some of whom hold prominent government positions.

American and Afghan officials reportedly discouraged publication of the report, and the commission has still not made it public. "It's going to reopen all the old wounds," an American Embassy official told the Times last year. Afghanistan also recently adopted an amnesty law offering blanket immunity for past war crimes.

Nader Nadery, the commissioner responsible for the report, told ProPublica: "I haven't seen any political or even rhetorical support of investigations into Dasht-i-Leili or any other investigation into past atrocities, from either Bush or Obama."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Roseland Community Hospital warned that it will stop accepting patients on Wednesday, if it doesn't receive enough money to stay open," the Sun-Times reports.

"Roseland is $7 million in debt. Hospital executives say the state owes them $6 million of that in delayed payments for procedures Roseland had performed on patients.

"It is shameful that the State of Illinois cannot provide funding for its poor sick citizens," said Dian Powell, president and CEO of Roseland Community Hospital. "The closing of this hospital will be devastating."

Here is a twist in the story, though, that I don't believe I've seen until now:

But a spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn strongly disagreed that the state of Illinois owed Roseland $6 million.

"That is false. In fact, the State of Illinois has advanced all payments to Roseland for this fiscal year," Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said.

The hospital said it could not provide a breakdown of the $6 million that it says it is owed by the state.

Anderson also stated that the hospital and its board of directors "mismanaged their resources into the situation they are in today."

"The governor is concerned about Roseland's long term viability," Anderson said. "Unfortunately, they have failed to respond to our requests for a viable plan to properly run the hospital."

If that's the case, perhaps the state - and the city - could help Roseland come up with such a plan. Lives are at stake.

And it's not like being mismanaged - a characterization Powell denies - has ever been a disadvantage in Illinois before.

That's right: Sears got $275 million - without a viable plan for the future. Roseland is asking for six. Sears sells crappy clothes. Roseland saves lives.


"The hospital [has] already laid off 68 people, such as lab technicians and emergency room nurses, and given furloughs to others to stay afloat."


"The 162-bed hospital serves a poor, largely minority population from the South Side and south suburbs, hospital officials said," the Tribune reports. "About 20 percent of patients are uninsured or underinsured, while just under 40 percent of those admitted to the emergency room are uninsured, Powell said."



"It is the only hospital within an 8 mile radius in an area that has seen its fair share of violence lately," WGN-TV reports. "It's not a trauma center but last year 35 shooting victims went to Roseland first, then trauma centers."

For example:

"Three young men who police say belonged to two different gangs walked into Roseland Hospital overnight with gunshot wounds, each shot within blocks of each other in a pair of West Pullman neighborhood attacks," the Tribune reported last month.


See also: Restoring Roseland: School Confronts Violence.


And: At least two Roseland elementary schools, Kohn and Songhai, are now slated for closure.


Meter Madness 2.0
"Finance Committee Backs Changes To Parking Meter Deal."


The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Do Division vs. the Detroit Cobras.

Rahm's Bet With LA
What should really be at stake.

SportsMonday: Hawks Making Quick Work Of Kings
Delightful and clever.

The Cub Factor: Our Mock Draft
We have our own ideas of who the Cubs should draft on Thursday.

The White Sox Report: Setting The Game Back
This season's team would send shudders up Alexander Cartwright's spine.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Shudder to think.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:54 AM | Permalink

June 3, 2013

SportsMonday: Hawks Making Quick Work Of Kings

The best thing about taking a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series is the task that then faces your foe - four wins in five games or bust.

The smart bet is on bust.

The Kings must win four before the Hawks win two after Los Angeles suffered a 4-2 loss last night in the Madhouse. A far more likely potential outcome: the Blackhawks split in LA and return home for Game 5 with a great chance to put this series away quickly.

Of course, going to LA requires actual travel to the West Coast, an experience the Hawks had avoided until now in these Western Conference playoffs. This team caught a huge break with its travel schedule when its first-round showdown with Minnesota was followed by a match-up with the Red Wings, teams that are otherwise known as two of the eastern-most members of said conference.

In fact, while we will miss having the Red Wings in our conference (the league will re-align itself in the offseason), it is ridiculous that a team located in the Eastern Time Zone stayed in the Western Conference this long.

Usually (at least in the last five years or so) the Hawks have absorbed at least several endless trips to Vancouver or San Jose or Arizona in the first round or two of the playoffs. That has not been the case this year and the lack of travel miles has to help.

On the other hand, after fighting through seven grueling games against Detroit, there was plenty of concern the Hawks would be a bit depleted this past weekend, especially in the second game in as many days on Sunday.

The opposite was the case. The Hawks had the jump on Detroit starting from the opening few minutes and didn't let up until taking a 4-0 lead just past the halfway point of the game. Perhaps the best part? The team's depth was on full display yet again.

Viktor Stalberg got things started with a delightfully clever little backhand pass that sent fellow third-liner Andrew Shaw in on the goal with time and space only a few minutes into the game.


Marian Hossa got the Hawks' second goal started with a similarly delightful little backhand pass to Brent Seabrook, who cranked it past Jonathan Quick to give the hometown team a virtually insurmountable 2-0 lead to take into the locker room at the first break.


In the second period, it became clear that the best news of the day may was probably going to be that the kid is not only alright, he is thriving. Winger Brandon Saad, who won't turn 21 until October 27th for goodness sakes, played by far his best game of the playoffs after seeming a bit overwhelmed earlier in the postseason.

Having already notched the second assist on Shaw's goal - having passed the puck to Stalberg - Saad got his second assist of the game on the Hawks' third goal after picking up the puck behind the Kings' net on the power play, drawing a defenseman near and then sliding the puck to Patrick Sharp on the point. Sharp put the puck on net and Bryan Bickell was credited with scoring on the rebound, though it may have been a King who actually put the puck in his own net.

But the assists were only part of the story. Saad also made the best rush of the day earlier when he turned a Kings defender absolutely inside out with a couple moves from the inside to the outside and then back again. His resulting shot didn't go it but it was a breathtaking display of skill.


Michal Handzus scored the Hawks' fourth and final goal on a wrister to continue his nice run through the playoffs - and to, astonishingly, send Quick to the bench.

Handzus was a great mid-season pick-up by Hawk General Manager Stan Bowman a few months ago from San Jose for a fourth-round draft pick.

He was brought on mostly for his face-off skills - at that point all Hawk forwards not named Toews were struggling to win more than 50 percent of their draws - but he has given the team much more.

And the departure of Quick was one of the most exciting developments of the day for Hawks fans. The mockery of opposing goaltenders starts early in hockey. It isn't one of the best things about the game but it has been around for a while. At high school hockey games I used to cover on the North Shore, the "Insert goalie's last name here," repeat, repeat again, "You suck!" chants started early and continued throughout many a game. So when a home team knocks an opposing goalie out of a contest and the cheers that follow are absolutely the loudest of the night, well, those cheers have a whole lot of history behind them.

Speaking of history, the 2013 Kings are in danger of joining it rather quickly this week. And if that happens, the Hawks will be four more wins away from a historic second Stanley Cup in the last four years.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

Our Mock Draft

"When Albert Almora was made the sixth pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, it was significant, because the high school outfielder would always have the additional tag of being Theo Epstein's first selection since taking over as the Cubs' president of baseball operations," Carrie Muskat writes at

"The emphasis since Epstein arrived in October 2011 was to build a foundation for sustained success. The focus, he said, would be on developing homegrown talent and to find impact players through the Draft and international signings.

"On Thursday, the stakes are even higher for Epstein and the Cubs, who have the second pick overall in the Draft."

While most of the draft focus is on pitchers Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray, and third basemen Kris Bryant and Colin Moran, we here at The Cub Factor have our own ideas about who the Cubs should draft. On our board:

* Orbit. He's ready.

* Millard Fillmore. Before the Nationals get him.

* One of those kids from Kansas State. Toolsy, solid on fundamentals, real game-changers.

* The Kool-Aid Man. Good glove.

* This guy.

* Emily Mohler. They're gonna need her for years to come.


Week in Review: The Cubs swept the White Sox amidst stringing together five consecutive victories for the first time in two years - a pathetically Cubbie-like superlative - before giving up 20 runs combined in two losses to the Diamondbacks. In other words, situation normal.

Week in Preview: The Cubs have off-days Monday and Thursday, with a two-game set against the Angels in Anaheim in between. Then it's home for three against the Pirates, who start the week in second place with a 35-22 record.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney went 5-for-19, which means he's 7 for his last 41. He left four on base this week. He got all six starts.

The Not-So-Hot Corner Valbuena and Ransom each got three starts at third last week. God, this team is boring.

Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters is hitting .270 at Iowa with a .343 OBP. Trade him now at his peak value!

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Starlin Castro lost another 14 points on his batting average this week and 11 points on his OBP, which puts his slash line at .258/.294/.356.

"Alarm bells are going off, and nobody seems to notice or care," the Score's Dan Bernstein writes.

Yes and no. Alarm bells are going off and everybody is noticing.

Castro got a good workout on Sports Talk Live this week and Toni Ginetti writes for the Sun-Times that "Cubs' Slumping Starlin Lacking Discipline."

Castro also just played in his 500th major league game and has "589 hits, seventh-most among players during their first 500 games with the Cubs," ESPN Chicago reports.

Here's the deal: Castro is an immensely talented athlete who will likely get his 200 hits more seasons than not. But he lacks baseball instincts, both at the plate and in the field. And you can't teach instincts. He's the perfect example of a player with "tools" who is less than the sum of his parts.

The Legend of Dioner Navarro: Thus validating this line of coverage.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana has his batting average up another point to .272 and his OBP up another 10 points to .327 OBP at Reno. He's heating up, people! Unfortunately, he's been caught stealing - twice - for the first time all season (16-for-18).

Meanwhile . . .

"Bob Brenly sounded happy Friday about being 'home' and working Arizona Diamondbacks games on TV," Bruce Miles writes for the Daily Herald.

"And he says not once has he had to yell, 'Run it out!' during a telecast.

"'No, not once,' he said with a laugh at Wrigley Field, where the Diamondbacks opened a weekend series against the Cubs. 'In some respects, it's just a reflection of the manager, Kirk Gibson. He played the game that way, and he demands that his players play the game that way. They understand when they come in here that there are certain expectations and anything less than that won't be tolerated.'"

What does that say about Dale Sveum?

Bullpen Bullshit: Another Carlos Marmol meltdown makes you wonder if the Cubs can ever wheel his ass out to the mound again. Should've made the Haren deal, Theo.

Also, Edwin Jackson, everybody!

And yet, not a candidate for the bullpen.

Finally, Kevin Gregg finally gave up an earned run. Highest value, Theo!

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Draft Pick Saviors traded higher this week but not as high as in past years as investors still feel burned by past transactions.

Sveum's Shadow: 8 p.m. Dale Sveum's Five O'Clock Shadow remains three hours past as he settles into a sense of delusion.

Shark Tank: Eleven strikeouts through six innings sounds great, but it took 115 pitches to do it and came with four walks. True a 2.96 ERA is close to sterling, but once he leaves his starts the beleaguered bullpen is left with an awful lot of work to do - and plenty of room to fuck up. Also, he's really becoming a loudmouth.

Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of Edwin Jackson for three more years.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Starts until Matt Garza is hurt again: 3.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Brett Jackson is hitting .228 in Iowa, which just goes to show you.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

Rahm's Bet With LA

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has made the usual boring bet - Eli's cheesecake, big surprise! - with Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa over the current playoff series between the Blackhawks and Kings, with Villaraigosa responding in kind.

We have our own ideas about what would constitute a fine wager.

If the Blackhawks win . . .

* Los Angeles gets a whole bunch of new parking meters.

* Los Angeles must take Jim Belushi and Jenny McCarthy.

* Los Angeles must send us some real celebrities.

* Los Angeles must send us 50 new, utilized schools.

* We swap governors at midnight.

* We swap UIC for USC.

* The Hollywood sign becomes the Beachwood sign.

* The Oscars are renamed the Eberts.

* The Los Angeles Times becomes a Tribune paper. Er, wait . . .

* The Los Angeles Times reassigns its photo staff to the Chicago Sun-Times.

If the Kings win . . .

* A new Jumbotron for Dodger Stadium!

* Chicago must take Ari Emanuel back.

* Hot Doug's Hollywood!

* Tribune Company must sell the LA Times to Steven Spielberg.

* Please welcome Tyrannosaurus Sue to the La Brea Tar Pits!

* Lollapalooza becomes LApalooza.

* The Hollywood sign becomes the Beachwood sign.

* Disneyland gets Museum of Science and Industry's Lincoln head mold-o-rama machine.

* Outfit provides free cement for expansion of Grauman's Chinese Theater sidewalk.

* Art Institute to curate Hollywood Wax Museum.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Ariel Pink at the Do Division festival on Saturday night.


2. The Disappears at Do Division on Friday night.


3. Night Moves at Do Division on Saturday.


4. He's My Brother, She's My Sister at Do Divison on Saturday night.


5. Archie Powell & The Exports at Do Divison on Saturday night.


6. The Hemmingbirds at Do Divison on Saturday.


7. Gaslamp Killer at Do Division on Sunday night.


8. The Detroit Cobras at the Double Door on Friday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

Setting Back The Game

When Phil Lucas's daddy jumped a train in Alabama in October of 1946 heading to St. Louis for the National League playoff between the Cardinals and Dodgers, he couldn't have known that his escapade would have long-term repercussions for his unborn son.

The Cardinals beat the Dodgers 4-2 that fall afternoon, and two days later they wrapped up the NL pennant by thumping Brooklyn 8-4 in the best two-of-three playoff.

Although Lucas, a history professor at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, grew up outside of Philadelphia, listening to his father talk about that 1946 playoff resulted in Phil becoming a lifelong Cardinal fan.

Not only that, Lucas has had a passion for the game's origins, history and role in American society almost as long as he's cheered for the Redbirds. Lucas's expertise is American history from colonial times through Reconstruction, but he's managed to share his love of baseball by offering a course, Baseball: The American Game, once every three years since 1984.


Photo courtesy of Cornell College

"It's fully enrolled," he told me last week.

Lucas was in Chicago leading a two-day mini-course for Cornell alumni billed as The History of Baseball. I attended the small (enrollment 1,200) Midwestern college my freshman year, although my brother is a graduate. So together we joined four alums from the '60s along with a mix of other alumni including three members of the Class of 2013.

Included in the curriculum was a trip to Wrigley Field last Thursday to watch the Cubs complete their three-game sweep of the White Sox. I spent most of the afternoon looking at a post with the number "236" painted on it, which obscured my view of the pitcher.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that I never saw Jake Peavy release one pitch in his four-inning, six-run outing which included serving up a grand slam homer to opposing pitcher Travis Wood in the Sox 8-3 embarrassment. More about our woeful athletes in a moment, but let's first talk about the far more interesting information that Lucas shared.

Pinpointing the "invention" of baseball is a tricky business, and chances are that Abner Doubleday was far from the icon who molded the rules and regulations of the game. Lucas reminded us that "we know that the Egyptians had bat and ball games," and similar recreation was practiced throughout Medieval times.

As he mused about the origins, I wondered whether the Pharaoh would have offered Adam Dunn the kind of contact he received three years ago from the Sox. I suspect not. Pharaoh had more sense.

What does seem clear is that we have Alexander Cartwright to thank for doing things like creating the diamond-shaped field in 1845, along with the concept of fair and foul territory. Prior to Cartwright, a member of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York, there could be as many as 20 players on a side, positioned willy-nilly throughout the real estate.

Again, my mind wandered. The Sox really could benefit from being able to have, say, 15 guys in the field. If Robin Ventura could use six outfielders and a backup catcher behind Tyler Flowers, there's no way our team would be last in fielding in the American League.

Cartwright or an able-bodied Knickerbocker then stepped off the distance between home plate and second base as well as first and third. They came up with 45 paces, which, lo and behold, created a ballfield where the bases were 90 feet apart. Lucas said there may have been some trial and error on this one, but the final outcome was basically what we have today. I find that absolutely fascinating.

It also was helpful in getting Cartwright elected to the Hall of Fame in 1938, and in 1953 the U.S. Congress "officially declared" that Cartwright invented the modern game of baseball. Of course, that was back in the day when Congress actually did something.

Lucas covered lots more during the two days of class including the ways in which baseball morphed from a game played with professionals rather than amateurs in the 1870s; the formation of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in 1876 (which later became the National League); and Ban Johnson's creation of the Western League in 1901, the forerunner of the American League a year later. The class also touched on the reserve clause and integration before time ran out on Friday.

As readers may be aware, the present-day White Sox just got swept over the weekend in Oakland. We know that the Sox were shut out Friday and Sunday, losing 3-0 and 2-0, respectively. Together with the 4-3 10-inning loss on Saturday, the team hit just .184 in the three-game series and wasted strong starting pitching by Dylan Axelrod on Saturday and Chris Sale on Sunday.

What you may not know is the significance of that elephant on the left sleeve of the A's uniforms. I've seen it for decades and never could figure it out.

However, now I know.

The first World Series was played in 1903 with the Boston Americans beating the Pittsburgh Pirates. The next season John McGraw's New York Giants won the National League pennant and were slated to play the American League champion Philadelphia Athletics, who eventually moved to Kansas City and then to Oakland.

But McGraw was a proud, chauvinistic individual, and the thought of engaging an inferior squad like the A's was beneath the dignity of his Giants. "He called them a bunch of white elephants," Lucas told us. So there was no World Series in 1904 because the Giants refused to participate. But the elephant logo became a standard for the Athletics' uniforms.

I'm not sure that Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes knows why he's wearing an elephant on his sleeve, nor was that knowledge necessary as Cespedes and his teammates subdued the Sox over the weekend to conclude one of the most dismal weeks in White Sox history.

With six consecutive losses in the books - it well might have been seven if Tuesday night's game hadn't been rained out with the Sox trailing 2-0 - the South Siders are last in the American League in batting average (.237), on-base percentage (.289), runs (20 fewer than anyone else), hits (29 fewer than No. 14 Seattle), and bases on balls. They swing - usually unsuccessfully - at just about anything: strikes, change-ups and breaking balls in the dirt, and fastballs at the shoulders and higher.

Failing to beat the Cubs rubbed salt - not regular salt but that coarse, cubed, potent Kosher salt - into the wound. The Sox didn't even come close, being outscored 26-6 if you include the postponed contest. One would have to scour Sox annals to find a week when the team played as poorly as they did the past seven days.

The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York would have feasted on this sorry bunch.

At least baseball was glowing over on North Seminary at Cornell's McLennan Center, a converted two-flat where our class met.

"It's not the only [college class about baseball history]," said Lucas. "But I've received requests for my syllabus from a number of people."

It's a fine syllabus with one notable flaw: watching the Sox play.


Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 AM | Permalink

June 1, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

"The first full session of complete DFL control at the Capitol was marked not just by a hefty tax hike on the rich, but higher spending on education, free all-day kindergarten, a two-year college tuition freeze, significant expansion of union power and legalization of same-sex marriage," the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported 11 days ago.

"The big stories on the last day of the spring legislative session were the things that did not get done," Illinois Issues reports today.

"Both chambers adjourned without sending to the governor's desk Senate Bill 10, which would have legalized same-sex marriage, or comprehensive changes to public employee pensions. (For more on same-sex marriage, see this blog from Meredith Colias.) A gaming bill fell apart. (See blog here.) A bill to gradually shift future pension costs to universities and community colleges, which the institutions agreed to, could not even find enough support to pass in the Senate."

Just for comparing and contrasting.


"Minnesotans 'were so frustrated with decades' worth of deficits, just deficit after deficit, and you could really feel their frustration,' said House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul. 'We really took that to heart and have focused to try and do what we believe are the priorities of Minnesotans and the things that will be important for Minnesotan's future and for a prosperous future for all.'"


"Madigan refused to talk to reporters as he left the House floor."


"For DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, several watershed victories were achieved, including his campaign pledge of taxing the state's wealthiest wage-earners to balance Minnesota's budget. With the governor's involvement, lawmakers approved ambitious, state-backed expansions of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, the 3M headquarters and the Mall of America - years-long projects expected to spin off tens of thousands of new jobs."


"'The governor is going to bring Squeezy [the pension python] out again tomorrow because you guys couldn't figure out how to communicate with the super majority of the same party on the other side of the building,' said Palatine Democratic Sen. Matt Murphy in reference to the cartoon mascot Quinn adopted to try to bring public attention to the pension problem. 'We have not seen the governor. He has not done his job,' said Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from Marengo. Franks said Quinn should immediately call a special session on pensions."


"The tax bill offers 'massive property tax relief for all Minnesotans, both for cities, counties and school districts, individuals and renters,' said House Taxes Committee Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington."


"But the last pension special session Quinn called produced nothing but bad press. Instead, the governor has instead called for a meeting with the legislative leaders next week. 'I will not stop fighting until pension reform is the law of the land. But as I said in my budget address, I cannot act alone. If I could issue an executive order to resolve the pension crisis, I would. And I would have done it a long time ago. Today, Moody's issued another warning to legislators that Illinois' credit rating would soon be downgraded - again - if they did not act on pension reform. Downgrades hurt our economy, waste taxpayer money and shortchange the education of our children,' Quinn said in a written statement. 'Yet every time Illinois is downgraded - legislators leave Springfield without getting the job done.'"


"Proposals that did not survive: A much-criticized proposal to tax clothing, a temporary income tax surcharge and an increase in the alcohol tax, which had drawn intense opposition from the state's beer and wine industry.

"In the end, lawmakers reverted to the framework of a plan first offered by Dayton earlier this year."


"Cullerton was less in a mood to throw stones. 'It's not because we didn't try. There's no blame to go around. It just people have different positions, and it's difficult to get 30 votes on it,' he said after the Senate adjourned. 'You can't criticize the governor for not passing a bill on to the governor's desk.'

"Madigan said Thursday after his bill failed in the Senate that Cullerton had shown a 'lack of leadership.' But Cullerton, whose bill is backed by public employee unions, said he could not force his members' hands. 'I can't order people to vote for bills that they clearly don't want to vote for,' he said. He noted that the unions had lobbied heavily against Madigan's bill."


"In the waning hours, House and Senate leaders hurriedly brokered a behind-the-scenes deal over state borrowing.

"The scaled-down $176 million state-borrowing package includes money for the State Capitol restoration, flood mitigation projects and money for a new veterans building in Minneapolis.

"Legislators from both parties had long advocated for a complete makeover of the Capitol. Dayton had insisted on the project for months, but Republicans defeated a much larger borrowing proposal that suddenly threw the project in doubt. Democrats pulled together a more modest proposal that Republicans could embrace, making the Capitol its centerpiece.

"'This building has no lobbyist to shill for it. It has us, and we must not let it down,' Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City. 'Our Capitol is the symbol of Minnesota. Let it stand solid and strong to serve future generations of Minnesotans long into the future.'

"In a last-minute standoff, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL Cook, told lawmakers he would not end the session until the Capitol restoration was assured.

"After little debate, the House passed the measure 121-10 and sent it to the Senate for final passage. Minutes later, the Senate passed the proposal 57-6 and sent it to Dayton."


"Cullerton said he thinks his bill would have the votes in the House to pass, but a spokesman for Madigan said Thursday that he thinks there is no interest in the House for taking a vote on the bill."


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Stately.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison turns 45 this month, and Jim and Greg celebrate with a Classic Album Dissection. Plus they review new records from The National and Dixie Chick Natalie Maines."


The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Click through and check out the new website!


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


Perspectivas Latinas: Salsation Theatre Company


The Latino sketch comedy group dons their sombreros and becomes "Los Improviachis," singing improvised mariachi songs based on audience suggestions.

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


Reconciling Lives: German-Jewish Dialogue


This evening of dialogue hosted by the Goethe Institut highlights efforts of Germans and Jews to reconcile with one another and the legacy of the Holocaust.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.


Roundtable Meeting on Senior Issues


Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly brings local aldermen and seniors together for a roundtable discussion of infrastructure, public safety and transportation issues faced by older adults in Chicago.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.


Women's Power Lunch


Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky hosts this event focused on women's issues, with keynote speaker Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.


Discussion of Illinois Public Participation Law


How can government best work with citizens in the digital age? Experts discuss whether laws meant to engage residents with the policymaking process are really effective, or if they actually discourage involvement and could be improved.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:48 PM | Permalink

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