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« November 2014 | Main | January 2015 »

December 31, 2014

The [New Year's Eve 2014] Papers

Holiday-mode Beachwood continues until January 5.

The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 4: Winner, Winner, Cricket Dinner
Our pick: The Horned Frogs (-3.5) and the chili rub.

Local Music Leftovers 2014
Oozing Wound wins the year. Plus: Bloodshot, CHIRP, Run The Jewels, The Preatures, Junior Wells, Animal Kingdom, Jason Molina, Chief Keef, Dick Dale, and the city's best YouTube uploader.

Chuck Todd Explains It All
If I press the politicians to tell the truth, they won't come back and lie to me more.

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BeachBook
* FOIA Reform Died While The Press Looked The Other Way.

* Real Men Don't Have Dead Zones.

* State Department Delays Report Of Iran History.

* NSA Chief Bet Money On AT&T As It Spied On You.

* Study: U.S. Is An Oligarchy, Not A Democracy.

* Post-9/11 War Costs Reach $1.6 Trillion.

* Ex-Milwaukee Cop Who Shot Unarmed Man 14 Times Will Not Be Charged.

* Court Filing Illuminates Morgan Stanley Role In Lending.

That's a pretty soft headline for what the filing revealed about Morgan Stanley's lies and deceits.

* Whistle-Blowing Former Baltimore Police Detective Sues Department For Retaliation.

Their retaliation, not his.

* The McDonald's Lab Disguised As A Hipster Cafe.

* 46 Times Vox Totally Fucked Up A Story.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Pickled pink.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:10 PM | Permalink

The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 4: Winner, Winner, Cricket Dinner

Our inimitable bowl coverage continues.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
#9 Ole Miss Rebels (9-3) vs. #6 TCU Horned Frogs (11-1)
December 31, 11:30 a.m.
Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Another in the Poultry Playoff Series, the Peach Bowl features two one-time contenders. Ole Miss went through a terrible four-game stretch late in the season, bracketed by impressive wins over #3 Alabama and (more importantly) #4 Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. The games in between included losses to #24 LSU, #3 Auburn, and (most damning) unranked Arkansas, which dropped the Rebs from playoff contention. An unbeaten TCU team would also have been playing for all the marbles but for a three-point defeat to #5 Baylor.

Why watch?

For an answer, do not turn to Yahoo! Answers. A Yahoo! search for "peach bowl why watch" returns, among other front-page results, a series of compelling reasons in response to "Why isn't my crested gecko eating independantly?!?!?"

Answers:

You should not feed your crested gecko baby food, or anything like that such as apple sauce. (Awarded "Best Answer")

my cresteds eat crickets, i put veggies in a dish but they dont eat them usually"

Our advice would be to avoid feeding the Horned Frogs baby food, apple sauce, or veggies during warm-ups. To keep up the players' energy during the game, we recommend Chapul bars, "The Original Cricket Energy Bar." For the Ole Miss Rebel Black Bears, we recommend a protein-rich snack, like human feet. Crickets, while high in protein, must be consumed in large quantities and could bog down the Bears.

For the curious, other trending questions on Yahoo! Answers include:

Would you be willing to eat a bowl of crickets for 40,000 dollars? (Are we talking live crickets or fried crickets with a nice chile rub? This is important.)

Is it safe to feed newborn kittens to my royal python? (We don't see why not.)

If you were being eaten by a crocodile and croc cut your feet off what and finshed you without your feet what would happon next? (It depends. How long would we have to run away while the croc snacked on our feet? And by run, we mean crawl on bloody stumps.)

Our Pick: The Horned Frogs (-3.5) and the chile rub.

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Vizio Fiesta Bowl
#20 Boise State Broncos (11-2) vs. #10 Arizona Wildcats (10-3)
December 31, 3 p.m.
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

As a favorite in 2014, the Wildcats notched a 10-3 record overall but only 4-9 against the spread. The Broncos at one time were a free-money pick when getting points, but recent history has gone in the other direction. In Boise's last six as a 'dog, the Broncos are 0-6 straight up and 2-4 against the number. Not good. Based on those numbers, the three-point edge for Arizona should look attractive but not mouth-watering. We love BSU at home on the Smurf Turf but the play may be to sit back and just root for scoring.

Our pick: Offense. Let's see a downright outburst. We're on the "over" 67.5.

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Capital One Orange Bowl
#7 Mississippi State Bulldogs (10-2) vs. #12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-3)
December 31, 7 p.m.
Sun Life Stadium, Miami

Inexplicably, ESPN.com refuses to preview this one or the Fiesta Bowl. Did the New Year's Eve bowls sneak up on the Worldwide Leader this year? Odd.

No matter. We're here for you. We won't force you to watch a video preview either, as in the CBSSports.com page on the game. We hate videos on sports websites. To counter the constant chatter that often plays without prompting, we disable Adobe Flash Player in Firefox and Google Chrome. Rather than little nattering commentators in the sidebars or unexpected full-page videos, we get inoffensive grey boxes. "You need to have the Adobe Flash Player to view this content. Please click here to continue." No thank you. Nyah.

We don't care much for this one. Georgia Tech always seems to fall into the "Oh, yea. Georgia Tech." category for us. The Rambling Wreck runs an option offense, which can be fun to watch but implodes against speedy and disciplined defenses. As for the Bulldogs, the team compiled an impressive overall record including big wins in the treacherous SEC West, but did so in less-than-glamorous fashion.

We would like to see MSU win to continue the SEC's domination in post-season play. Going into today, likely to most of the nation's consternation, the conference has posted a 4-1 record.

Our pick: The only other bowl face-off between ranked teams also featured an SEC squad against an ACC opponent, a 37-14 pasting by #13 Georgia over #21 Louisville. We'll root for a similar outcome and take Mississippi, giving (-6) the points.

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Previously:
* The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 1: Cheap Trick, Gold Toes & Loaded Potatoes.

* The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 2: Porn, Chicken & Bitcoins.

* The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 3: Koozies For Floozies.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:01 AM | Permalink

Local Music Leftovers 2014

Emptying the notebook.

1. Oak Park's Rob Mitchum sabermetricizes the year-end lists of the rock-critic hive-mind.

2. Personally, I say thumbs down on Protomartyr, thumbs way up on Preatures.

3. Junior Wells LP A Time Capsule Of Chicago Blues Scene.

4. Favorite band of the year: Oozing Wound.

5. Not to be cooler-than-thou, but I bought Bloodshot's first sampler and was a fan from Day One.

6. Blame Chicago for Tempe's Gin Blossoms.

"One thing I know it did was back in the '80s and '90s, there were so many kids from Illinois going to school at ASU that the first, like, 20 times we played Chicago, our shows were packed," he says. "We were always really big in the midwest because all the ASU kids would move back home. We ended up selling a quarter million records in Chicago."

7. I'm really not that hot on the Alabama Shakes.

8. Greg Kot's Best of 2014.

9. Jim DeRogatis's Best of 2014.

10. Robert Loerzel's Best of 2014.

11. Underreported in Chicago: Riot Fest forced to relocate in Denver.

12. Story I'm grateful the Reader reported that I could have read another thousand words on: Why Did Animal Kingdom Have To Die?

13. Congratulations to: CHIRP Radio.

14. Quite possibly the best piece of music journalism in 2014: Jason Molina's Long Dark Blues.

15. Underplayed in a weird way: Interscope drops Chief Keef.

See also: Save Chief Keef.

16. Chicago drum goddess Hannah Ford indeed joined Prince's band.

17. Racine's and Kenosha's Best Bands Are Led By Women.

18. Run The Jewels Made The Most Punk Album of 2014.

19. Thank you, (the other) Dick Dale.

20. Catching up with a December 3rd show at the Empty Bottle thanks to my favorite local YouTube uploader, whose taste is impeccable.

College.

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Glass Lux.

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Replicant.

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And the Snow Angels at the Empty Bottle on December 20th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

Chuck Todd Explains It All

If I press politicians for the truth, they won't come back and lie to me more.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:27 AM | Permalink

December 30, 2014

The [Tuesday] Papers

Holiday-mode Beachwood continues until January 5.

* The Trews vs. Coke's Christmas Commercial.

Capitalism's propaganda about the alleged birth of Jesus continues.

* MuckReads: How America Sucked In 2014.

Broken: Justice, capitalism, the human heart.

* Cleveland Browns' Andrew Hawkins Explains Why He Wore A 'Justice For Tamir Rice And John Crawford' T-Shirt.

As if he should have to explain.

* UPDATED: Greater Chicago Food Depository: Thank You.

New comment looks at executive salaries and wonders if they're quite kosher.

* UPDATED: Al Piemonte's Greatest Hits.

New comment cites the lawsuit we missed.

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The Beachwood Radio Network

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #37: The Rahm Referendum.

Can politics by subtraction win? Is there a viable challenger? The state of the race. Plus: We Didn't Start The Fire: The Most Emblematic Chicago News Story Of The Year. And: Book Plug: The Defender. With special guest Ethan Michaeli.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #31: Sweet Action! A Special Report On Sports Gambling.

The pros and cons of legalization. Plus: A Chicago casino? And: Where the real immorality in gambling lies. With our man on campus Mike Luce and our man on the rail Tom Chambers.

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The Chicago Justice Project
Crime and Punishment in Chicago 2014.

Dumbest Meme Ever?
Who in the world ever thought we were suddenly post-racial? Oh, journalists!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Post-glacial.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:20 AM | Permalink

MuckReads: How America Sucked In 2014

Editor's note: This is our year-end super MuckReads list. Since you have plenty to read through the holidays, our next weekly list of MuckReads will appear on Jan. 9. Thank you for reading.

Law Enforcement Steps Out Of Line

Beatings. Shootings. Broken bones. Since 2011, the city of Baltimore has paid $5.7 million to settle claims of false arrests, false imprisonment or excessive force by its police officers. In almost all of the largest payouts, local citizens were cleared of any criminal charges. - Baltimore Sun via @petesweigard

"The agency has created a culture that says, 'If you throw a rock at me, you're going to get shot.'" Politico examines the U.S. Border Patrol, which it says has become "one of the nation's deadliest law enforcement agencies." The Border Patrol has ballooned since 9/11 to 60,000 employees and it has a budget bigger than the FBI, ATF, DEA, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals and the NYPD combined. That growth has come with a cost: assaults, misconduct cases, corruption and excessive force complaints. - Politico via @YoungRJeremy

The DEA impersonated a woman on Facebook without her knowledge, and the Justice Department is OK with that. A federal agent created the fake profile, posted private photos seized from a suspect's cell phone and posed as her to friends online. A U.S. attorney defended the agent's actions as serving "a legitimate law enforcement purpose," but one legal scholar said the incident "reeks of misrepresentation, fraud, and invasion of privacy." - BuzzFeed via @AzmatZahra

Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

"You never really think, 'Is rape covered by insurance?'" Eight days after a New Orleans woman was raped, she was billed $2,000 for her medical treatment (her insurance covered $1,400). A few days later, $1,700 in additional charges landed in the mail. Why was she being charged for treatment of a sexual crime? In Louisiana, rape victims are routinely billed for their medical care, despite state and federal guidelines stipulating that such treatment should be free. - The Times-Picayune via @laura_nelson

It all began in Lafayette. When a pedophiliac priest rocked a Louisiana diocese years ago, a bishop came in to "heal" the community. The bishop later led the U.S. church's response to the national scandal. "His background gave the Catholic Church tremendous credibility at a moment of crisis. There was just one problem. The story wasn't true." - Minnesota Public Radio via @callmeKi

A Broken Justice System

Brutal abuse at America's second largest prison. An investigation of violence at New York's Rikers Island uncovered at least 129 cases of inmates who suffered injuries at the hands of prison guards so serious that they couldn't be treated at jail clinics. The cases are detailed in a secret study, obtained by the New York Times, which also found that 77 percent of the inmates injured were considered mentally ill. - New York Times via @cm_thompson3

One day late: how bad lawyering is costing death row inmates their rights to have their cases heard in federal court. Under federal law, death row inmates have a specific deadline for asking a judge for a habeas corpus review of their case. Missing this deadline usually costs inmates their chance for a last-resort hearing. The Marshall Project analyzed 80 capital punishment cases where lawyers missed the deadline, some by days, one by more than 11 years. - The Marshall Project via @adamplayford

Separate And Unequal

Easy to measure. Hard to explain. That's what USA Today says about its latest report on the "staggering disparity" in America's arrest rates by race. For example, 70 departments from Connecticut to California arrest African Americans at a rate 10 times higher than other racial groups; only 173 of the 3,538 departments reviewed arrested black people at the same rate or less than other racial groups. - USA Today via @johnhillkirk

The other tragedy in Ferguson: school segregation. Michael Brown's school district is among the poorest in Missouri. About half of the black male students never graduate. Just one in four graduates enter a four-year college. Clayton Public Schools, five miles away, is practically the opposite - white, high scoring, little poverty in sight. The educational experience for students like Brown reveals a subtle, ongoing racial crisis: a vast disparity in resources and expectations for black children in America. - ProPublica via @nhannahjones

When Product Is More Important Than People

"If the client speaks English, the going rate is higher. Fusion TV's multi-part investigation traces a prostitution ring from Tenancingo, Mexico, where women are "kidnapped, trapped and seduced," to Queens, New York where a pimp "can make half a million dollars a year with three women working for him, each seeing an average of 20 clients a day, each for 15 minutes." - Fusion via @alicitabrennan

"They want us to take such great care of the tomatoes, but they don't take care of us." America's large corporations have policies requiring Mexican suppliers to treat their workers decently and provide them with quality living conditions. But a Los Angeles Times investigation of these mega-farms found rat-infested work camps, wages illegally withheld and child laborers. - Los Angeles Times via @lauraelizdavis

Unhealthy Health Care

Drug-addicted doctors can run clinical trials. The drug industry hires many kinds of doctors to oversee trials - even those who are under investigation for drug abuse. Reviewing doctors' disciplinary history before appointing them to manage clinical trials isn't explicitly required by FDA regulations. And in today's medical industry, "speed and efficiency . . . appear to trump concerns about the doctors who run trials." - MATTER via @elbertchu

Is ideology hampering health coverage in Mississippi? In Mississippi, one in four adults go without health insurance. For African Americans, it's one in three. Yet in the first year of the Affordable Care Act, only 20 percent of the 300,000 who could have gained coverage did. Politico's Sarah Varney found a "series of cascading problems," including errors and misinformation, disorganization, racial divisions and an "unyielding ideological imperative of conservative politics." 2014 Politico via @HanqingC

Industries Behaving Badly

"They put poison on his skin and in the air he breathed." Benzene is the 17th most-produced chemical in the U.S. It's an ingredient in making plastics, adhesives, lubricants and pesticides. And chronic exposure is linked to leukemia and other cancers. An investigation by The Center for Public Integrity found that a $36 million study funded by America's oil and chemical titans was "designed to protect member company interests." - Center for Public Integrity via @Smaczni

"That wasn't a piece of meat with eyes, that was a human being." It was 24-year-old Dennis Munson Jr.'s first kickboxing fight. And within five hours of the start of the match, he was dead. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation found that kickboxing - unlike mixed martial arts - isn't regulated by the state. A "cascade of errors" identified by the Sentinel and fight experts during the course of Munson's fight, as well as dangerous weight cutting in lead up - all areas that are regulated in some other states - may have cost him his life. - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via @john_diedrich

Then the trains started exploding. North Dakota doesn't have enough pipelines to move the amount of crude coming out of the state these days. So they go by train. In 2005, railcar shipments of oil tallied 9,500 nationwide. By 2013, that number jumped to 400,000 - most of it from North Dakota - and trains had started derailing and exploding, causing environmental disasters and, in some cases, leveling portions of towns. - Inside Climate News via @NaveenaSivam

Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern said Sandy response was "near flawless." Not true. An investigation by ProPublica and NPR found that the charity botched key elements of its disaster relief efforts after hurricanes Isaac and Sandy, at times putting public relations above delivering aid. Internal Red Cross documents and dozens of interviews show that the charity diverted vehicles for press conferences and dispatched empty trucks just to "be seen." - ProPublica

And In The Warlord Category . . .

Firestone wanted Liberia for its rubber. Taylor wanted Firestone to help his rise to power. So begins a ProPublica/Frontline investigation into the untold history of an iconic American tire company's dealings with Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. Confronted with Liberia's civil war, Firestone agreed to pay Taylor's rebel government millions. In return, the company secured Taylor's protection of its rubber plantation, the largest in the world. - ProPublica via @txtianmiller

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:57 AM | Permalink

The Trews Vs. Coca-Cola's Christmas Commercial

Tanks and trucks, soda and petrol.


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Previously:

* The Trews vs. Sainsbury Chocolates.

* The Trews vs. The Real Enemy.

* The Trews vs. Gitmo Bullshit.

* The Trews vs. CIA Torture Report Bullshit.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

Browns' Andrew Hawkins Explains Why He Wore A 'Justice For Tamir Rice And John Crawford' T-Shirt

"I was taught that justice is a right that every American should have. Also justice should be the goal of every American. I think that's what makes this country. To me, justice means the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment. Ultimately, it means fair treatment. So a call for justice shouldn't offend or disrespect anybody. A call for justice shouldn't warrant an apology.


"To clarify, I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way. And I don't think those kind of officers should be offended by what I did. My mom taught me my entire life to respect law enforcement. I have family, close friends that are incredible police officers and I tell them all the time how they are much braver than me for it. So my wearing a T-shirt wasn't a stance against every police officer or every police department. My wearing the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people.

"I'm not an activist, in any way, shape or form. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred I keep my opinions to myself on most matters. I worked extremely hard to build and keep my reputation especially here in Ohio, and by most accounts I've done a solid job of decently building a good name. Before I made the decision to wear the T-shirt, I understood I was putting that reputation in jeopardy to some of those people who wouldn't necessarily agree with my perspective. I understood there was going to be backlash, and that scared me, honestly. But deep down I felt like it was the right thing to do. If I was to run away from what I felt in my soul was the right thing to do, that would make me a coward, and I can't live with that. God wouldn't be able to put me where I am today, as far as I've come in life, if I was a coward.

"As you well know, and it's well documented, I have a 2-year-old little boy. The same 2-year-old little boy that everyone said was cute when I jokingly threw him out of the house earlier this year. That little boy is my entire world. And the No. 1 reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality.

"I made the conscious decision to wear the T-shirt. I felt like my heart was in the right place. I'm at peace with it and those that disagree with me, this is America, everyone has the right to their First Amendment rights. Those who support me, I appreciate your support. But at the same time, support the causes and the people and the injustices that you feel strongly about. Stand up for them. Speak up for them. No matter what it is because that's what America's about and that's what this country was founded on."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

December 29, 2014

The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 3: Koozies For Floozies

To get us caught up, a number of football games took place on Saturday. Take our word for it. There are box scores and everything. Here is a rundown on the few remaining bowls prior to a full slate beginning New Years Eve:

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Texas A&M Aggies (7-5) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5)
December 29, 1 p.m.
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis

Someone will win the day in Memphis, carrying the team to victory in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to win the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, brought to you by AutoZone.

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Russell Athletic Bowl
Oklahoma Sooners (8-4) vs. #17 Clemson Tigers (9-3)
December 29, 4:30 p.m.
Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando

The Sooners never got over the proverbial hump in 2014, losing to #25 TCU (37-33) and #14 Kansas State (31-30) in close games that could have turned the season. An ugly loss to #12 Baylor (48-14) and an overtime heartbreaker to rival Oklahoma State to close the season relegated OU to the Russell Athletic Bowl, presented by Russell Athletic. We expect Oklahoma to roll in this one. Clemson comes into Orlando lacking an offensive coordinator (Chad Morris departed for the head job at SMU) and a backup at quarterback.

Clemson QB Cole Stoudt has not impressed in recent games, with four picks and no touchdowns in the last two matchups versus Power 5 teams. The Tigers lost to every ranked team on the schedule as well, but we question the importance of the overtime L against FSU (everyone else nearly beat the Seminoles too) and the 28-6 stinker versus #22 Georgia Tech should give Clemson backers pause.

Our pick: Boomer Sooner. The game also has the looks of an unexpectedly high-scoring affair. Now that we've entered into the legit bowl games, a 50-point over/under looks low. Our final score: OU 34, Clemson 24.

Sidebar: How many other big-name schools can't be abbreviated? There's Clemson, Stanford, and . . . who? Plenty acronyms are tweaked in the crawl to avoid confusion (between the University of Texas and the University of Tennessee), but that's easy enough: TX or TEX and TN or TENN, for example. But there's no natural shortened version of Clemson or Stanford apart from CLEM or STAN, which isn't really the same thing. Conversely, how many schools are always shown as an acronym? (LSU, UCLA, USC, etc.) Someone needs to figure this out.

Bonus: Name the nine professional teams (NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB) whose nicknames don't end in 's'.

That ought to keep you busy. Lord knows no actual work gets done this week.

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AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
Arkansas Razorbacks (6-6) vs. Texas Longhorns (6-6)
December 29, 8 p.m.
NRG Stadium, Houston

The AdvoCare 100 website claims the "Texas Bowl creates and celebrates the culture, heritage, and football tradition of the Lone Star State." To which we ask, "How does the Texas Bowl create culture, heritage, and/or tradition in Texas?" Celebrate, sure. We'll buy that part. Invite a team from Texas (say, the Texas Longhorns), wave the flag around, execute a death row inmate at midfield, and presto. But what about the creation bit?

Multilevel marketing companies (i.e. pyramid schemes, like AdvoCare, Herbalife, Amway, et al.) aren't part of the Lone Star State's proud history. Maybe AdvoCare is thinking of the family traditions that will flow from entering the Tailgater of the Game challenge, sponsored by Texas grocery store chain H-E-B.

Roaming judges in the NRG Stadium parking lot will look for tailgaters with "Team Spirit, Food (Exclusive H-E-B Presence is a must!), Originality and Hospitality" with the winner appearing on the big screen during the game. To get competitors started, H-E-B helpfully provided a checklist including tips such as "a hearty main course like brisket," cowboy boots, and koozies. We'd swap out the koozies for floozies, which would pad the Hospitality score.

Our pick: The University of Texas (+7) and 'Merica. If Texas lacked motivation after a lackluster .500 season, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema's "Horns down" move in a pregame press conference should stoke the fires.

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Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-5) vs. #23 LSU Tigers (8-4)
December 30, 2 p.m.
LP Field, Nashville

Everyone, The College Football Report excluded, hates Notre Dame. Otherwise, what hope would ESPN have of a national audience tuning in for the FAMMCB?

Tip of the week: Give Nashville a wide berth. Tiger fans are liable to transform The Athens of the South into Gomorrah.

Our pick: LSU (-7) and the points.

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Belk Bowl
#13 Georgia Bulldogs (9-3) vs. #21 Louisville Cardinals (9-3)
December 30, 5:30 p.m.
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

What's this, a bowl featuring two ranked teams? Forsooth! Verily have we entered the Realm of Intriguing Games.

Our pick: Whither thou goest, we shall go, Bulldogs, prithee thou cover the spread (-6.5).

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Foster Farms Bowl
Maryland Terrapins (7-5) vs. Stanford Cardinal (7-5)
December 30, 9 p.m.
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

Following its debut as the San Francisco Bowl (2002), this one has made the rounds, known at various times as the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl (2003), the Emerald Bowl (2004-09), the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (2010-12), the Fight Hunger Bowl (2013), and briefly reverting to the San Francisco Bowl prior to inking a deal with Foster Farms in November.

We'd question why a chicken company is backing a bowl game, but with the prevalence of so many other oddball sponsors (looking at you, Duck Commander), Foster Farms' presence seems downright reasonable. Our guess is that Foster Farms, headquartered in nearby Livingston, needed a prestigious site for an annual boondoggle. Or maybe there's a sinister poultry bowl conspiracy afoot, led by Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and Buffalo Wild Wings, that Foster Farms wanted to join.

Our pick: What a snoozefest. Maryland? Stanford? Let's consult The College Football Report Free Range Sacred Chicken, he should know. The verdict? Maryland, +14.

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Previously:
* The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 1: Cheap Trick, Gold Toes & Loaded Potatoes.

* The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 2: Porn, Chicken & Bitcoins.

-

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:39 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Son Of Buddy Next?

First and foremost, the McCaskeys are fans. George is the chairman of the Bears and his mom Virginia, the daughter of George Halas who will turn 92 on January 5th, is always referred to as "the matriarch," whatever that means. But despite their titles, they are fans through and through.

And as such, they had to be feeling all the same things the diehards were feeling as this Bears season went so incredibly wrong these last few months.

They had to be feeling that they could not possibly watch one more delusional Marc Trestman press conference. They had to be feeling revulsion as Phil Emery gave a clueless interview Sunday in which he seemed completely convinced he would carry on despite all that has happened.

And finally, leading up to the news today that the coach and the general manager have both been fired, the McCaskeys had to be feeling that for the first time in the franchise's 95-year history, ownership simply couldn't care how much it all cost. They concluded that they couldn't have these guys in charge of the NFL's charter franchise for even one more day.

To a certain extent, coaches and other team officials have to be disingenuous when seasons go south. There is a certain decorum that must be followed. Management's true feelings leaked out a few weeks ago when Aaron Kromer confided in an NFL Network reporter that the biggest problem was Jay Cutler's shortcomings and was rightly vilified for it.

But there is disingenuousness and there is blithering dishonesty and Trestman crossed that line a long time ago.

It wasn't just that the Bears had a bad season. It is that they had a bad season following an off-season in which expectations, at least for the offense, were through the roof. And then when things went bad, they went so, so bad. In case giving up a franchise record 38 points in the first half against the Patriots wasn't enough, they then gave up 42 in the first half to the Packers.

But at least Emery probably might have weathered the storm that followed those games if the offense had shown even a little bit of life. Instead it was as bad as any offense in the league.

So now attention turns to the search for the next team builder and his coach. Only a few coaches would be worth hiring before a GM. Jim Harbaugh will apparently take the unbelievable step of going from three straight NFC championship games to an 8-8 season to coaching the University of Michigan.

I don't care how much they pay Harbaugh or Nick Saban or whatever other supposed supercoach may come down the pike - college football is minor league football! Come on!
There is the fact that by going to Michigan, Harbaugh ensures the 49ers will get no draft pick compensation, the sort of compensation most thought an NFL team would pay (the Patriots paid the Jets a first-round pick when they hired Bill Belichick) to hire Harbaugh despite his having one year left on his San Francisco deal. But that doesn't change the fact that he is taking a massive step back.

So moving right along, the Bears better at least try to talk to Rex Ryan. The last few seasons were rough for the coach who was fired by the Jets on Monday, but it wasn't that long ago that Ryan (the son of beloved - by the fans - former Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan) was winning four playoff games on the road in a two-year span with Mark Sanchez as his quarterback. That is almost as impressive as three straight NFC championship games.

Whatever they do, the Bears need to avoid falling into the trap of the polar opposite hire. So many times teams cap off a coaching change by hiring the candidate who is least like the guy before. So they hire a disciplinarian to replace a players' coach. My simple advice is to hire the best candidate, be he a players' coach or the ultimate tough guy.

Oh, and perhaps it is time to hire a coach with previous NFL head coaching experience after 95 years of not doing so. I mean, if the Bears can fire a coach with two years left on his contract, who knows how much they might spend on the next guy.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:33 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

I know there's a lot of big Bears news today, but I've got other things on my mind.

1. Police: Banging Of Metal Pot Mistaken For Gunfire At Chicago Ridge Mall.

"Multiple police departments responded to help evacuate and search the mall."

Chicago Ridge, You Are Today's Worst Mall in Illinois.

2. Starlin Castro Cleared In Another Shooting.

Now two shootings above replacement.

3. Walker's Kenosha Casino Decision A Mystery.

Which segues nicely into . . .

4. The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #31: Sweet Action! A Special Report On Gambling.

With our man on campus Mike Luce and our man on the rail Tom Chambers.

And . . .

5. The Beachwood Radio Hour #37: The Rahm Referendum.

A smart take on the state of the mayor's race with Ethan Michaeli. Plus: The year's most emblematic Chicago news story.

6. Greater Chicago Food Depository: Thank You.

More than 812,000 served.

7. Al Piemonte's Greatest Hits.

The relatively low-key pitchman took pride in selling cars with dings and bangs.

8. Local Book Notes: Chicago's Original Master Of Comic Art.

Plus: Jennifer Lawrence and Phil Jackson.

9. The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

Featuring: Rich Gang, Lisa Lisa, Hushdrops, Poi Dog Pondering, Wolfgang Gartner, Flosstradamus, and Bingo Players.

10. U Of C Prof: You're More Likely To Die On Your Birthday.

Probably by engaging in risky, celebratory or depression-driven behavior.

11. Religion And Guns In Chicago.

Eh.

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BeachBook
* Christmas Eve News Dump: NSA Acknowledges Improper Surveillance Of Americans.

* In Book Excerpt, Ex-SNL Writer Takes Aim At Proud NYC Parents.

* Police Chief's Perfect Response: Respect Protesters, Keep An Open Mind.

* Obama's Lists: A Dubious History Of Targeted Killings In Afghanistan.

* One Month After JFK's Assassination, Truman Called For Abolishing The CIA.

* The Wedding That Became A Funeral: U.S. Still Silent One Year On From Deadly Yemen Drone Strike.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Firing on most cylinders.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:29 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Rich Gang at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.


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2. Lisa Lisa at the Portage Theater on Saturday night.

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3. The Hushdrops at Schubas on Saturday night.

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4. Poi Dog Pondering at City Winery on Saturday night.

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5. Wolfgang Gartner at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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6. Flosstradamus at the Aragon on Friday night.

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7. Bingo Players at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:42 AM | Permalink

Al Piemonte's Greatest Hits

"Al Piemonte, the larger than life auto dealer and TV pitchman, worked his way up from the bottom," the Sun-Times reports.

And he always acted the part.

Despite the successes of his numerous car dealerships, Mr. Piemonte was personable and practical in his TV commercials for his Melrose Park Ford dealership, ads that aired in Chicago for more than 30 years.

Clad in his best and bright sweaters, and waving his hands around enthusiastically, Mr. Piemonte's TV pitches were aimed at affordability.

He was honest about his used car stock. In a 1985 ad, Mr. Piemonte admitted he put away cars for customers who couldn't afford much.

"They're not going to be perfect cars. They're going to have some dings and bangs, but they're going to give you some transportation," he said.

Mr. Piemonte, 83, of Lake Forest, died Christmas Eve after a short illness.

Here are some of Piemonte's commercials through the years.

Dings, bangs 1. (1985)

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Dings, bangs 2. (1986)

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After Christmas sale. (1987)

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No hassling, no dickering. (1992)

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When his name went on, the price went down. (2012)

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As you can see, he was a low-key pitchman - but a steady presence on our television screens for decades.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From John Harrold via Facebook:

There is this too.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:23 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Chicago's Original Master Of Comic Art

"You can make the argument that the comic strip started with Winsor McCay," Teddy Jamieson writes for the Scotland Herald.

"Chronologically, it's not quite true but, more than most, the American cartoonist who created Little Sammy Sneeze, Dream of the Rarebit Fiend and, in 1905, Little Nemo in Slumberland sketched out what was possible in the form. He is the comic strip's Cecil B DeMille and George Melies combined - a glorious fantasist and technical innovator, a synthesizer of possibilities in an almost new art form and now, more than 100 years later, still one of the most accomplished and capable artists who have ever graced the form.

"He was also a man of his time guilty of his time's prejudices, but let's park that for a moment and recognize his importance. As Tom De Haven argues in the book Masters of Comic Art, it was McCay who effectively devised and developed the grammar and language of comics.

"'Since McCay the basic unit has been the page,' De Haven claims and there are few more beautiful pages than the strips McCay devised for Little Nemo - glorious Art Nouveau-influenced color art replete with a startling eye for pattern and readability and an offhand surrealism that owed something, you feel, to his time spent working in a dime museum in Chicago drawing posters and banners to advertise its latest freak show attractions."

Should Jennifer Do Theodore Dreiser?
"Dreiser's novel [Sister Carrie], which has become a modern classic, would be a perfect fit for cinema," Prajay Ghaghda writes for The Upcoming.

"It's the story of a young woman who leaves her small town in search of a better life in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. Carrie Meeber was a unique heroine for the time as she frequently violated the contemporary moral code.

"Beyond this, Sister Carrie is the thoughtful story of a young woman trying to thrive in a new world. It's fascinating to watch her grow from timid young woman to someone quite willing and able to manipulate others for her own personal gain.

"Jennifer Lawrence would make an excellent casting decision, the mix of innocence in the first Hunger Games film with the confidence and bravado of her American Hustle role would suit this just fine."

Triangulating Israel
Phil Jackson's Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, now translated into Hebrew.

Another Christmas Miracle
"On the cover of [Kane County] author William Hazelgrove's latest novel, Real Santa, a starred review by Booklist states, 'If somebody doesn't make a movie out of this book, there's something wrong with the world.' Well, someone has decided to do just that," Kara Silva writes for the Kane County Chronicle.

"Modern Family producer Vicki Rocco recently bought the film rights to Real Santa for her production company - Small But Mighty Productions - with an eye for a feature or made-for-television movie.

"This news comes on the back of Hazelgrove's summer announcement that he sold the rights to his fifth book, The Pitcher, to producer Ed Bates, who currently is adapting the screenplay."

You can find that Booklist review here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

Greater Chicago Food Depository: Thank You

"Because of you, the Greater Chicago Food Depository is able to serve more than 812,000 men, women and children in our community. That response to hunger would not be possible without your support. Thank you."


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See also:
* The Greater Chicago Food Depository YouTube channel.

* The Greater Chicago Food Depository website.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From a concerned reader:

They could feed a lot more if their salaries were not so high.

FoodDepository.png(ENLARGE)

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:21 AM | Permalink

December 28, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #31: Sweet Action! A Special Report On Sports Gambling

Our man on campus and our man on the rail join the show to discuss NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's call to legalize and regulate (and presumably tax) sports gambling, something we're loosely familiar with - and by loosely we mean tightly. Let's just say we know people who know people. And they know people too. But would legalized sports gambling really be everything we would hope it to be? Could a Chicago casino include a sportsbook? Would legalization kill the romance? And who do you like in the fourth at Santa Anita? We've got the answers.


SHOW NOTES

* Our man on campus, Mike Luce.

With Natalie Bauer in Costa Rica on their honeymoon!

* Our man on the rail, Tom Chambers.

Appleton, Wisconsin.

* Our man at the controls, Steve Rhodes.

The first school project I can remember ever doing was on sports gambling. I included a section on biorhythms. The next project I can remember was on the Great Lakes.

1:38: Part 1: For Entertainment Purposes Only.

* NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: Legalize And Regulate Sports Betting.

* Last known photo of Uncle Hank.

* The NHL in Vegas.

* Home team betting rules.

* Forbes: The Rich Reality Of Fantasy Sports: A $1.7B Industry By 2017.

* Why Injury Reports Exist.

* Playing For The Mob: How Goodfella Henry Hill Fixed College Basketball Games.

* Referee Tim Donaghy And The 2007 NBA Betting Scandal.

* UNLV: The House Edge: "Because this positive house edge exists for virtually all bets in a casino (ignoring the poker room and sports book where a few professionals can make a living), gamblers are faced with an uphill and, in the long run, losing battle."

* Players At Indian Slots Have No Clue On Payout.

* Certified Loose.

* Horseshoe Cincinnati.

* The Mud Bug.

* Churchill Downs Building Online Casino In Louisville.

* Governing: Floating Absurdity.

* Casino Gambling In Tunica, Mississippi.

* Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.

* Drewrys.

* Bohemia Clasica.

* Sam Adams Rebel.

38:55: Part 2: We Know People Who Know People. Who Know People.

* Normalizing organized crime.

* Gotta be in it to win it.

* Illinois Severs Ties With Private Manager.

* How State Lotteries Deliberately Exploit People's Dreams.

* Convicted Sex Offender Wins $3 Million Florida Lottery.

* The elephant in the room: The action.

* Sweet action.

* NFL Red Zone Channel.

* Jimmy the Greek.

* Brent Musburger Has Plenty Of Interesting Thoughts On Gambling.

* Hank Goldberg.

* The chalk.

* Skip Bayless in the Tribune: Send A Message: Drop Point Spreads.

* NHL Odds.

* MLB Odds.

* Pete Rose's Reckless Gamble.

* Gambling And The Alpha Dog.

* The Croupier.

* Gimme a Pippen.

* Hint: Take Florida State and the points.

* Atlantic City's Battered Casinos.

* Chris Christie's Gambling Problem.

* President Bush Signs Law Banning Internet Gambling.

STOPPAGE TIME: 13:44.

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For archives and more, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:56 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #37: The Rahm Referendum

Can politics by subtraction win? Plus: We Didn't Start The Fire: The Most Emblematic Chicago News Story Of The Year. And: Book Plug: The Defender.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

:59: Scott Lucas and the Married Men at the Hideout last Saturday night.

* The Week In Chicago Rock.

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

5:22: Born of Osiris at Durty Nellie's in Palatine last Saturday night.

9:07: Los Lobos at City Winery last Friday night.

10:20: Politics By Subtraction.

* Ethan Michaeli.

* We The People Media | Residents' Journal.

* Patricia Van Pelt Watkins.

* Incompetent?

* "Desk jobs."

* Rahm is doing everybody's jobs.

* CHA is sitting on at least $400 million.

* Terry Peterson's kinky cash.

* "Rahm misjudged the public on this," says Bill Daley. "What he didn't seem to grasp was that the only good, middle-class jobs left for blacks in most of the neighborhoods are teaching positions in the schools. The closures cut deeply into whole communities. He could have shown greater empathy."

* Still a hack, hardly a wonk.

* The bullying fundraiser who always takes more credit than he deserves.

* Fair Chicago.

* Preckwinkle: Did Obama pressure her out of the race?

* Rahm Drops Challenge To Willie Wilson's Petitions.

* Fioretti: The Reader's guy?

* Chuy Who?

* The black vote's various segments.

* The 95th Street Station: Where Rahm Shakes Black Hands.

$240 Million Rehab.

Shaking hands.

Not shaking hands.

* Latinos for Rahm.

* The runoff's the thing.

1:05:00: We Didn't Start The Fire: The Most Emblematic Chicago News Story Of 2014.

1:10:00: Book Plug: The Defender.

1:13:54: Davy Knowles at Martyrs last Thursday night.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #31: Sweet Action! A Special Report On Sports Gambling.

STOPPAGE TIME: 16:40.

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For archives and more, see The Beachwood Radio Network

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 PM | Permalink

December 27, 2014

The Weekend Desk Report

What news story of 2014 was most emblematic of Chicago?

Find out on The Beachwood Radio Hour #37, now in post-production. ETA: Saturday evening or Sunday morning. With guest Ethan Michaeli.

A special edition The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #31 goes in pre-production. Our man on the rail Tom Chambers and our man on campus Mike Luce will join me for a rollicking discussion about gambling - including the possible legalization of gambling on sports, as recently called for by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the possibility of a Chicago casino, and the state of play on their respective beats.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory
Black tape bloc.

Bankers Brought Rating Agencies 'To Their Knees' On Tobacco Bonds
Wall Street pressed S&P, Moody's and Fitch to assign more favorable credit ratings to their deals and bragged that the raters complied. Now many of the bonds are headed for default.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Talib Kweli, The Smith Westerns, Pale Horseman, Oxblood, and Running with Tarantulas.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg hand the Desert Island Jukebox remote over to some of their favorite guests. Hear what music Robert Plant, Kelis and Fred Armisen say they can't live without."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: Rock The Holidays.

"JBTV is returning this holiday season to CAN TV for the 26th annual Safe Drive Live Music Marathon, bringing viewers some of the biggest indie and alternative rock bands with a reminder to drive safely.

"It's a way to get the message across in a non-traditional format," said Jerry Bryant, the host of the rock marathon. "It's exciting that we get to do this each and every year."

"This year, the show features 10 hours of performances by up-and-coming acts and popular bands like Fall Out Boy, The 1975, Hozier, Foster the People, and Fitz and the Tantrums.

"The performances are accompanied by messages from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and the bands themselves that focus on the deadly risks of texting behind the wheel, drunk driving, and other dangerous practices.

"All of the bands were excited to be a part of it," Bryant said. "They're on the road each and every day, so they understand why this cause is so important."

"Road safety advocate Marti Belluschi, a victim of an accident involving a drunk driver, has worked with Jerry on the program from day one. She said the marathon is an effective way to remind young drivers not to drive while impaired.

"Jerry has really made a difference by reaching adults with a message communicated by musicians who younger adults, in particular, are more likely to follow," Belluschi said.

Catch the Safe Drive Live Music Marathon on CAN TV:

Saturday, December 27, at noon and 11 p.m. on CAN TV19.

Wednesday, December 31, at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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BeachBook
* In Memoriam: Journalists Killed In 2014.

* Hundreds Watch The Interview In Bloomington, Chicago.

* Chicago Is Giving Rats Birth Control.

* Penny Parking Thriving In Small Illinois Town.

* Rash Of Snow Plow Thefts Hits NW Indiana.

* Can The Red-Light Camera Be Saved?

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Moist.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:49 PM | Permalink

December 26, 2014

Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory

Black tape bloc.

blacktapewindow.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Talib Kweli at the Shrine on Tuesday night.


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2. Noted: The Smith Westerns played their final show Tuesday night at Lincoln Hall. Will add video if any becomes available.

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3. From the first night of the Heavy Holidays Food Drive at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge earlier this month.

Pale Horseman.

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Oxblood.

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Running with Tarantulas.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 PM | Permalink

Bankers Brought Rating Agencies 'To Their Knees' On Tobacco Bonds

This story was co-published with Marketplace.

When the economy nose-dived in 2008, it didn't take long to find the crucial trigger. Wall Street banks had peddled billions of dollars in toxic securities after packing them with subprime mortgages that were sure to default.

Behind the bankers' actions, however, stood a less-visible part of the finance industry that also came under fire. The big credit-rating firms - S&P, Moody's and Fitch - routinely blessed the securities as safe investments. Two U.S. investigations found that raters compromised their independence under pressure from banks and the lure of profits, becoming, as the government's official inquiry panel put it, "essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction."

Now there is evidence the raters also may have succumbed to pressure from the bankers in another area: The sale of billions of dollars in bonds by states and municipalities looking to quickly cash in on the massive 1998 legal settlement with Big Tobacco.

A review by ProPublica of documents from 22 tobacco bond offerings sold by 15 state and local governments shows that bankers routinely bragged about having their way with the agencies that rated their products. The claims were brazen, the documents show, with bankers saying they routinely played one firm against its competitors to win changes to rating methods, jack up a rating or agree to rate longer-term, riskier bonds.

"Bear Stearns is the ONLY firm in two years to have negotiated new rating criteria pertaining to stress tests and tobacco sector fundamentals," the now-defunct investment bank stated in a typical 2005 pitch for a deal led by Kym S. Arnone, who today chairs the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, the industry's self-regulator.

"Fitch reached out to UBS for input so that they would fall in line with the other ratings agencies," UBS said after they and others dropped the firm from deals because of its "constraining" stress tests. Following the conversation, "Fitch amended their stress criteria," UBS told Michigan as it readied a 2006 deal.

In 2007, JPMorgan promised to negotiate Fitch "to their knees" if Ohio hired the bank for a $5.5 billion deal that was the largest sale, or "securitization" of tobacco settlement payments.

The 140 documents, unearthed through public records requests, show that bankers from six Wall Street firms - UBS, Bear Stearns, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs - claimed they could convince the rating agencies to make favorable changes to their criteria.

Garnering better grades for the tobacco bonds meant the bankers could sell more of them, get a leg up on their competition and win millions of dollars in fees from the governments issuing the debt. The state and local governments were trading their annual tobacco payments for up-front cash by making the bond deals. As ProPublica has reported in a series of stories, the bonds have proved much riskier than advertised, leading to fiscal headaches for the issuers and losses for investors.

While there are no indications that the bankers did anything illegal, their claims further undermine the argument by the raters that their opinions are only the result of independent analysis - something the firms will soon be required to attest to in writing under reforms enacted in the wake of the financial crisis.

Since the economy tumbled in 2008, the estimated $36 billion of bonds issued in the tobacco sector - like so many other corners of Wall Street - have proven to be founded on shaky assumptions. In this case, the unraveling was caused by weaker-than-expected cigarette sales, which drive the size of the settlement payments. The outlook is now so bleak that in September Moody's estimated that 80 percent of the money owed on tobacco bonds it rates won't repay on time.

The future may be even bleaker for a $3 billion sliver of the debt. Those securities, known as capital appreciation bonds, promised balloon payoffs so large - $64 billion, all told - that they are almost certain to default. The documents show bankers pressed rating agencies to ease criteria for evaluating those bonds as well.

ProPublica shared the tobacco bond documents with S&P, Moody's and Fitch. All denied changing their methodologies, also known as rating criteria, in response to demands from bankers.

In an interview, Nicolas Weill, who oversees Moody's rating methodologies for tobacco bonds and similar securities, said, "We don't negotiate criteria." Those criteria - such as stress tests that gauge how much cash is available to repay the bonds under various scenarios - are "never, ever" open to deal-by-deal changes. He said the firm may evaluate different deal structures but only if they meet those criteria.

In a statement, Fitch said: "With respect to every one of the examples provided to us by ProPublica, we can affirm that no banker or other outside party unduly influenced any of these ratings decisions . . . We determine our ratings - they are not open to negotiation with issuers and bankers."

S&P said in a statement: "On the whole, the assertion that S&P's cash-flow stress assumptions for tobacco settlement bonds were relaxed is false . . . credit ratings change because factors that affect credit risk change."

ProPublica also shared the documents with each of the banks. All declined to comment except UBS, which said the bankers involved no longer work for the firm, which exited the municipal bond business amid the 2008 market turmoil.

ProPublica also shared the materials with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates rating agencies and has been working to reform the rating process since the abuses in mortgage-backed securities. In August, the agency adopted hundreds of pages of new rules it said will help prevent "conduct and practices that were central to the financial crisis."

The SEC also has been investigating whether S&P bent its criteria to win ratings of commercial mortgage bonds. The regulator is now seeking to suspend S&P from that part of the business in what would be its toughest action yet against one of the big three raters, Bloomberg News reported this month.

The SEC declined to comment on the documents provided by ProPublica.

The documents give the bankers' version of what happened, and some degree of exaggeration can be expected in any sales pitch. Nevertheless, former rating analysts, lawyers, and regulatory experts who reviewed the documents said the consistency of the bankers' claims across multiple years, deals and states, compared with known criteria changes and ratings, suggests the banks' influence was real.

"Banks have a right to advocate for their clients - that's normal," said Mayra Rodriguez-Valladares, a financial regulatory consultant who reviewed the documents at ProPublica's request. "What's going on here is very different . . . this is the banks trying to convince rating analysts to make changes to their methodology, and that's really crossing the line."

Crafting The Recipe

Credit rating agencies' letter grades signal their judgment as to which debts are safe to buy and which ones carry a higher risk of nonpayment, or default - akin to credit scores banks look at before they decide to make home loans.

Depending on the size of the issue, a local government issuing bonds with a "AAA" rating, the highest in the scale run by S&P and Fitch, could wind up paying millions of dollars less in annual interest to bond buyers than an entity selling an issue with a rating below "BBB-", the lowest grade for safe, investment-grade bonds.

Thus, issuers and their bankers have a natural incentive to push the credit-rating agencies to assign favorable ratings. Their leverage is that the raters' compensation comes from money raised from the debt they rate. S&P, for example, earned $266,000 for rating a March tobacco deal in New Jersey.

Executives of S&P, Fitch and Moody's, the three biggest firms in the business, have long maintained that their ratings are independent judgments of the creditworthiness of a bond. They have said there is no incentive to succumb to pressure because that would taint the reputation as honest brokers that their business model demands.

But as the SEC acknowledged in its recent rules, the potential conflict of interest faced by rating agencies is "more acute" in the area of structured finance. That term refers to the practice of turning streams of money - like mortgage or credit-card payments - into debt backed by those payments.

That is exactly what happened to money from the 1998 settlement.

For bankers and politicians, it was an irresistible opportunity for structured finance deals. The accord with cigarette manufacturers promised to send more than $200 billion over its first 25 years to state governments to reimburse smoking-related health care costs - and more money beyond. Even before the first payments began flowing in 1999, bankers were asking rating agencies to develop criteria for how they would grade the creditworthiness of the debt, the documents show.

From the beginning, that was going to be part art, part science.

The tobacco settlement payments are linked to inflation as well as cigarette sales, with room for adjustments based on legal disputes. That left a whole host of uncertainties, from the rate of the likely decline in cigarette sales to the potential bankruptcy of tobacco firms.

Starting in 1999, the rating agencies published their basic expectations, along with various so-called stress scenarios, for attaining various letter grades on their credit scales. They made clear that these criteria were subject to change at their discretion.

To protect investors, these criteria are supposed to be a non-negotiable element of the rating process: They are the independent recipe rating agencies use to fairly measure deals brought to them by bankers.

"Rating criteria should not be changed simply to enable securities to achieve the rating level the banker desires," said Thomas McGuire, former executive vice president of Moody's, who worked at the rating agency from 1977 to 1995.

Going Shopping

Beginning in 2002, documents show, the bankers took aim at that recipe. They sought to pack more debt into tobacco deals while preserving the highest possible grades.

"UBS's tobacco securitization team turned the sector on its head in mid-2002 when the rest of the industry was passively accepting ratings criteria, and blindly structuring securitizations to meet the most constrictive criteria of the three rating agencies (the lowest common denominator approach)," UBS bankers boasted to Michigan officials when they were wooing the state's business in 2006.

"UBS analyzed, challenged and fundamentally changed the underpinning criteria for mainstream ratings," they added in bold italic text.

A 2002 pitch to New York State recounted how the UBS bankers said they did it. After being hired by Rhode Island on a tobacco deal, the bankers said they spent an "intensive 10 days redefining the statistical ranges employed in Moody's tobacco stress tests" using cash-flow projections they'd developed for the deal.

UBS said Moody's agreed to alter its stress tests, allowing Rhode Island to get more proceeds out of the deal, which Moody's rated "A1" - the highest rating it assigned in the sector.

"This was the first time that any issuer had been successful in achieving a favorable change in a rating agency's tobacco rating criteria," UBS said in a 2005 deal resume submitted to California.

"As a result, Moody's decided to permanently ease its stress tests," UBS claimed in a later California document.

The Rhode Island transaction was only the beginning. UBS said that over the following years, it "pioneered" the concept of "shopping" ratings to max out the amount of cash it could raise for its clients by pitting rating agencies against each other. Competitors followed its lead, UBS said.

It was all viewed as business as usual: "In the structured finance arena, each rating agency is accustomed to and comfortable with the 'shopping' dynamic," UBS told Virginia in a 2007 pitch.

By 2005, rivals Bear Stearns and Citigroup were making similar claims about their persuasive prowess.

Citigroup took credit for negotiating new stress tests with Moody's, and in one pitch, it provided a "timeline of events" outlining its negotiations - and favorable results - with all three rating agencies.

Not to be outdone, UBS said it helped Moody's spruce up its criteria in late 2005 after the firm didn't get hired on a spate of deals: "Though others viewed Moody's as obsolete, UBS brought them back to the sector and worked with them to modernize their criteria."

Weill, the Moody's executive, declined to discuss any specific remarks by bankers.

However, an internal Moody's document, disclosed in one of several lawsuits brought against the firm in the wake of the financial crisis, indicates that something happened in late 2005 that allowed the rater to recapture market share in rating tobacco bonds.

"Moody's position is this market was regained in late 2005 but could be lost again," an executive wrote to senior management in a November 2006 discussion of "competitive issues."

'Cherry-Picking'

As the market for tobacco debt continued to heat up in 2005, bankers added one particularly toxic security into their sales pitch: a capital appreciation bond, or CAB.

Unlike traditional bonds, CABs do not pay interest to bondholders every year, instead letting it add up into huge amounts at maturity. The CABs were often dated to mature in 40 years or later, so that regular interest-paying tobacco bonds would be paid first. CAB investors were last in line.

Some issuers, such as Puerto Rico, had already maxed out on the amount of interest-paying tobacco bonds they could sell. So the CABs helped keep the tobacco market humming. But CABs were a riskier proposition to investors, since their longer maturities meant forecasts of cigarette sales would have to hold up over many decades for the debt to repay.

To attract buyers, and get better prices, bankers needed the rating agencies to weigh in. But Moody's didn't rate CABs. Neither had S&P. Fitch stepped in to fill the void.

Starting with its first CAB sale in 2005, the rating agency got hired again and again to assess CABs.

With Fitch in the game, bankers pushed for more favorable treatment of CABs in areas like the stress tests used to rate the bonds. Changing the tests could allow bankers to squeeze out more money from CAB deals Fitch rated. In pitches they submitted to Michigan on Feb. 17, 2006, Citigroup and Bear Stearns each took credit for lobbying Fitch to ease up on CABs.

Just a few days later, Fitch announced that "with the advent of new bond structures," it would update its criteria with a stress test that would make it easier for bonds 40 years or longer - the typical maturity for CABs - to get rated.

UBS bankers immediately ran the numbers and decided the change wasn't favorable enough.

"UBS shared its findings with Fitch within 24 hours of their press release. Fitch confirmed our analysis and worked with our tobacco securitization bankers to devise a new stress test methodology," UBS told California in bold letters in a 2006 deal document.

Fitch did not respond to written questions from ProPublica about UBS's claims.

Days later, in a Feb. 28, 2006, presentation to Michigan, UBS bankers bragged about getting Fitch to agree to what they called a ""revision to revision" on its CAB criteria. Thanks to the rater's more "lenient" rules for CABs, they also recommended that Michigan use Fitch on its deal, which UBS ultimately didn't win.

By then, one of Fitch's competitors, S&P, had decided to jump into rating CABs, too.

During the months that followed, bankers continued to press agencies to relax their criteria, pouncing on any advantage they could find. Bear Stearns claimed to have the most success negotiating favorable changes. Led by Arnone, the top banker in the sector, the firm handled enough deals to have leverage in challenging rating agencies' criteria and picking the ones that agreed to the best terms.

"Cherry-picking" is how Arnone and her team described the ratings process in a January 2007 document submitted to Virginia.

Often, the team would get "negotiations" with the agencies started before pitching a deal so they could brief governments on various criteria changes they could expect if they hired Bear Stearns.

These were noted on a running list of "major inroads" with the rating agencies.

In one case, Arnone's team told California officials in November 2006 they were seeking an adjustment to the estimated market share of cigarette manufacturers participating in the settlement. Even a tiny increase in the assumed market share, from the current 94 percent to 94.3 percent, would mean $26 million more in upfront cash to the state - if a committee of S&P rating analysts agreed to the change.

"We are highly confident that this criteria change will be approved by the rating committee," Arnone's team said in its pitch. Six months later, S&P did publish new criteria for tobacco bonds, establishing the market share for participating firms at 94.3 percent.

Arnone, now a managing director at Barclays Capital, declined to comment or to answer written questions about the documents through a spokesman for the bank.

S&P said in a statement that its May 2007 criteria changes were actually more conservative, since they included "more severe" stress tests for cigarette consumption declines underpinning the bonds.

At the time, however, bankers disagreed. In a June 2007 document dissecting the new criteria, Bear Stearns said that, overall, S&P's new criteria were more favorable since they allowed them to raise more cash.

Sometimes the bankers took advantage of the apparent absence of a constraint to spark negotiations.

Citigroup noticed that S&P's new 2007 criteria chose to "remain silent" on the maximum length of the CABs it would rate. With Fitch rating CABs longer than 40 years, Citigroup had been pushing S&P to do the same. And so, "immediately after the release of the criteria," Citigroup's bankers made a case for rating CABs with a 45-year term instead of 40. Goldman Sachs also sought the change.

A few weeks later, Citigroup closed an all-CAB deal in Rhode Island in which S&P for the first time rated CABs with a 45-year maturity. In general, the longer the term of an investment, the more risky it becomes because predictions are less dependable.

Just a few years into their 45-year terms, those risks been realized: The highest-rated CABs in the deal have been downgraded from a relatively safe "BBB" rating to well below investment grade. Earlier this year, Rhode Island sought to bail out the debt.

Citigroup declined to comment.

Biggest Deal Of All

In the summer of 2007, Ohio officials decided to come to market with a $5.5 billion bond sale linked to their share of the tobacco settlement. It was to be the biggest such offering yet, and the stage was set for a historic showdown among bankers eager for a piece.

JPMorgan beefed up its tobacco team by hiring two key bankers from UBS. The firm said it now had a "leading tobacco bond resume."

However, by now the landscape was changing, the bank warned. Storm clouds of the financial crisis were gathering as Congress began to scrutinize the rating agencies for their faulty grades on subprime-mortgage securities.

"What was formerly a very negotiated, fluid ratings process at Moody's is now poised to become clinical and public. Moody's criteria will be published and rigidly adhered to for the first time," JPMorgan's bankers lamented to Ohio in their August 2007 pitch.

The rating firms continued to insist that their work wasn't subject to meddling from bankers.

"We offer reasoned independent forward looking opinions about relative credit risk," Michael Kanef, an executive in Moody's structured finance division, testified to a Congressional committee just a few weeks after JPMorgan pitched Ohio.

JPMorgan declined to comment.

Bear Stearns, meanwhile, had been readying the ground by negotiating a list of favorable rating criteria changes that would help Ohio get more cash. Among them, Bear said, were a more optimistic assumption Moody's had agreed to about what would happen in case a cigarette manufacturer went bankrupt, and more favorable cigarette consumption declines agreed to by Fitch.

Fitch was also reviewing its ratings of the tobacco companies themselves. Bear told Ohio that an upgrade for the industry might help boost the ratings available for the bonds, including CABs, since Fitch links its ratings on the bonds to its assessment of cigarette manufacturers.

A few weeks later, on Aug. 29, 2007, Fitch made the upgrade. By then, Ohio's bond issue was under way, with Arnone's Bear Stearns team at the helm alongside Citigroup. Bear Stearns immediately helped Ohio cash in, selling two tranches of CABs that netted the state $319 million but promised to repay $6.6 billion by 2052. Fitch rated the CABs "BBB+" and "BBB," ratings that comfortably landed them within the investment-grade categories sought by the state.

The upgrade might well have been the result of Fitch's independent analysis of the tobacco sector. But bankers at Bear Stearns also took credit.

When pitching another deal in Michigan a few months later, Bear Stearns bragged about "facilitating" Fitch's upgrade and getting a rating agency "for the first time in the history of the tobacco market" to give CABs a "BBB " rating. More negotiations were "ongoing," Bear said.

Fitch disputed such claims in its statement to ProPublica: "Even if the bankers actually believed they had some sort of undue influence over us, that doesn't make it so - they had no such influence."

By 2008, the broader markets already were beginning to crumble under the weight of subprime mortgage debt. Bear's competitors wondered why tobacco bond criteria were being loosened.

"We view the current rating criteria relaxation for tobacco bonds as particularly interesting and unusual given current market conditions, where the rating agencies are 'under fire' for rating criteria for structured financings," bankers for DEPFA First Albany Securities wrote in a competing March 10, 2008 pitch to Michigan.

Four days later, on March 14, 2008, Bear Stearns collapsed and was sold off to rival JPMorgan in a fire sale brokered by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The financial crisis precipitated by the banks, with rating agencies' help, had arrived.

'Sold Out'

After 2008, the market for tobacco bonds collapsed with the broader economy. Prices nose-dived, too, especially for the long-dated CABs.

Downgrades ensued as cigarette sales slid more than expected. A big federal tax increase on cigarettes, announced in 2009, had dashed those expectations, and soon prompted the rating agencies to retool their criteria, too.

Fitch has downgraded Ohio's CABs five times since they were issued. They are now considered highly speculative. S&P has also lowered ratings on its CABs to junk territory. Moody's flirted with rating CABs, according to a Goldman Sachs pitch, but in the end didn't.

S&P told ProPublica that its ratings on tobacco bonds reflected its own views of cigarette consumption and, as those views changed in 2009, CABs got downgraded to speculative levels.

Fitch said its downgrades were prompted by lower-than-expected cigarette sales after 2006, though about half of its portfolio of rated tobacco bonds remains within investment-grade ratings.

The implosion of mortgage-backed securities graded favorably by rating agencies prior to the financial crisis triggered lawsuits, including one in 2009 by Ohio's then-Attorney General Richard Cordray. As Ohio treasurer in 2007, he had overseen the state's tobacco bond sale. While the state had been issuing tobacco bonds with questionable ratings, its pension funds had been investing in mortgage debt securities whose ratings also turned out to be inflated. He sued the three big rating firms in November 2009 over $457 million of losses caused by what he called "false and misleading" ratings.

"The credit rating agencies sold out, and they sold us out," Cordray was quoted in news reports at the time. "They traded in their objectivity, and in exchange received massive profits."

The lawsuit was tossed out in 2011 by a federal judge.

Congress addressed rating agencies in its 2010 Dodd-Frank financial system reform law. The Permanent Senate Subcommittee on Investigations and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission each concluded that the raters contributed to the 2008 disaster. In August, the SEC adopted rules requiring the firms to set up better internal controls so that business managers do not interfere with the analytical work.

More stringent policing of conflicts of interest is also required, as well as the opportunity to give everyone a chance to comment when the firms propose changes to rating criteria.

An SEC official said the rules would help avoid a repeat of the behavior that led to the financial crisis. But others who reviewed the rules and the documents collected by ProPublica demurred.

"One of the things that the documents illustrate is that it's not just the rating agencies alone making bad decisions,'' said Frank Partnoy, professor of law and finance at the University of San Diego and a former Wall Street trader. "It's the banks manipulating the rating agencies into making bad decisions."

Read more of Cezary Podkul's coverage of tobacco debt.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:56 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

It's gonna be hit and miss around here until January 5, but it still won't hurt you to check in a couple times a day to see what we've posted. Lots of stuff to try to push out the door on the site before the end of the year, but the Papers likely won't return in full until a week from Monday.

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If you're catching up:

* The [Christmas Eve 2014] Papers.

* The [Christmas Day 2014] Papers.

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BeachBook
* Rapid City Journal: Feds Overreached In Taking Sue The T-Rex.

* Japan's McDonald's Puts Big Fries Back On Menu.

* Facial Coding Expert: "Jay Cutler Is Not Quite There For You."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Incidental.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:01 PM | Permalink

December 25, 2014

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Year Of The Yuck

Week 1: Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel silences critics of his new "Starter 4 Life" back tattoo by leading Buffalo to an improbable overtime win in Chicago, effectively dooming the Bears' 2014 season.

Week 2: Defying a trend of epically historic proportions, the Bears coaching staff implements a defensive scheme in the hotel which allowed only five skill players to slip past hall monitors and participate in the all-night conga line at Male Tails Bar 'N' Rim.

Week 3: Uninformed that the Jets were starting Geno Smith under center, Bears defensive players spent most of the first half yelling "YOU SUCK, VICK!" across the line of scrimmage. Late in the second quarter, backup QB Michael Vick started to fire back "What the hell did I do - oh, right" from the New York sidelines before trailing off.

Week 4: In a sign of things to come, Green Bay runs away with the game as Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker inexplicably dials up a prevent defense that lasts between halftime of Week 4 and the second quarter of Week 10.

Week 5: On the road in Charlotte, the Bears lose focus late in the game when O-lineman Kyle Long and corner Tim Jennings run across Dr. Dre's The Chronic 2001 on Long's "Beats Fo' Realz" Spotify playlist and get hung up on musical trivia. "Get off it, Kyle. There's no way," Jennings remarked with about three minutes left in the game. "I swear to God, dude," said Long. "Dre sampled 'Mr. Big Stuff' by Jean Knight on 'Bitch Niggaz,' it's just slowed down . . . Hey Tim, if the offense is off the field what are doing you on the sidelines right now?" As Cam Newton hit Greg Olsen for a late game-winning touchdown.

Week 6: The Falcons are the only the team the 2014 Bears have beaten that are still eligible to make the playoffs going into Week 17. In an ironic move (and from a motivational standpoint, questionable at best), Marc Trestman busted out the iPod and cranked up Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" in the visitor's locker following the win, even though this would be last time the Bears would have a non-losing record until Week 1 of 2015. Kyle Long and Tim Jennings would miss the team bus to the airport because they got hung up in the bowels of the Georgia Dome debating the name of the black guy in Mannequin (answer: Kim Cattrall).

Week 7: Oh crap, another decent football team showed up! Bears lose to the Dolphins at home in what most fans hoped was a "hiccup" but turned out to be something of a death rattle.

Weeks 8 Through 10: I don't think this is what Martellus Bennett had in mind when he declared 2014 Year Of the YAC." BAAAAAAAARRRRRRRFFFFF! Bears give up a cartoonish 106 points over the course of two football games against the Patriots and Packers, a total which still yields a horrific 35 points per game if you include the shutout they pitched during their Week 9 bye.

Week 11: With a win against the Vikings, the 4-6 Bears don't so much "get back on track" as much as someone draws them a crude sketch of Thomas The Train on a cocktail napkin, eliciting unenthusiastic nods from several members of the team.

Week 12: In what may be the final win of the 2014 season (holy crap I wish that was a joke), the Bears exact revenge on former coach Lovie Smith by making (gasp!) second-half adjustments and beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field. Thanks for our last winning season, we'll see you in hell asshole!

Week 13: The Bears celebrate their first Thanksgiving Day game in 10 years by taking a much deserved day off. Lions win 34-17.

Week 14: In a game that appeared to be over so early that even Jerry Jones changed into his pajamas at halftime (and this is a guy who wears a blazer when mounting college students), the Cowboys looked to catapult their surprise season to new heights with a rare ninth win on a Thursday night in Chicago. Despite showing the Bears how a pro stops playing defense in the fourth quarter, the Bears still lose to Dallas by two scores. In a strangely punitive move, Marc Trestman announces that he is benching kicker Robbie Gould for the upcoming game against the Saints despite the fact that zero other NFL teams want him, and Gould has a legitimate injury. "Jay [Feeley] gives us the best chance to win," said Trestman during a mid-week press conference.

Week 15: Looking like a team that would rather be playing some other sport like curling, poker, or competitive hot dog eating, the Saints hand Chicago its third straight loss. When asked about his team's upcoming match-up with the Falcons to potentially determine first place in the NFC South, a visibly confused Sean Payton glanced down at his iPhone and checked his calendar. "Oh, shit. I scheduled an 11 a.m. tee time on the 21st. Hold on, I've got to call Bootsy and cancel," said the head coach of the 6-8 Saints before leaving the press room.

Week 16: With journeyman clipboard-holder Jimmy Clausen under center, Chicago is beaten by the playoff-bound Detroit Lions. For some reason, people feel better about losing with Jimmy Clausen than with Jay Cutler. Others (me/hopefully you) don't understand why losing this way should feel anything but embarrassing.

Kool Aid (2 of 5 - Revolution Brewing Fistmas Ale)

Me: You there, boy, what day is it? What's today my fine fellow?

Boy: Today? Why it's Christmas Day.

Me: How much codeine did I put in my eggnog last night? Who is this boy in my bed? Why am I in an opium den?

I gave this Sunday's season finale against the Vikings an extra brew because it's the last game of the year.

This has been a largely painful affair.

This iteration of the Chicago Bears has been a far more difficult product for diehard fans to ingest than any in recent memory.

Last year's final BAOKAR ended with the line "I've banged fatter" and though Ted Washington didn't appreciate the veiled jab, I stand by the insightful reporting that made me an Edward R. Murrow Award finalist.

This time, I don't think I have.

Those of you old enough to remember the final two seasons of Wanny may disagree with me, but in my mind the 2014 team has been the hardest watch in a football-watching life that spans four decades (gulp, that's actually accurate); an opinion based largely on the level of talent available to the offense of this team.

The most honest insult I can lob over the fence is that the 2014 Bears made me not want to watch football on Sunday. It's an activity I love to do with friends and family . . . or, like Clamato and Crystal Pepsi, wherever good times are had!

All joking aside, watching NFL Football was something that made made me legitimately happy, and the these Bears took that away from me.

You well and truly broke my heart, Trestman.

Yes, I blame him. And I don't want to, but four months into this fiasco I'm out of places to look.

On the other hand, maybe this leads us back to the oldest axiom in football: Defense and a good rushing attack wins games - even in an era of rule changes and biases towards increasing offensive output across the board; even in a time where quarterbacks are often the ones doing a lot of the rushing. Maybe we're on the first step back to classic Bears football.

Or maybe, due to atrocious leadership, the 2014 Bears are just plain terrible, no matter what era they would have played in or what's going on with the rest of the league, and this is the first step in a rebuild that will produce another three years of unwatchable dreck.

I'm thinking that might actually be the case, but I am hopeful that it will produce several months of unintentional comedy to sift through.

As for the final game, I think a team on the upswing has something to prove, while only Martellus Bennett shows up to play for Chicago.

Seventy-eight yards on six receptions and one touchdown is not enough to beat Minnesota at home.

R.I.P, one season's worth of hopes 'n' dreams.

Oh yeah, and Merry Goddamn Christmas!

Vikings 23, Bears 17.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:15 PM | Permalink

The [Christmas Day 2014] Papers

The Beachwood elves threw together this abbreviated holiday column.

* 15% - 20% Of Christmas Gifts Are Crap.

* The Amazon Grinch And Germany's Unhappy Elves.

* Rock 'N' Roll History From Chicago Native's Caribou Ranch Up For Auction.

* Inside The Indiana Megadairy Making Coca-Cola's New Milk.

"That dairy, called Fair Oaks Farms, doubles as America's one and only dairy theme park, a bit of Americana that interrupts a monotonous stretch of Interstate 65 between Chicago and Indianapolis."

* Oldest Man In America Dies At 110 In Rockford.

* Smart Bar To Undergo Renovations In January.

* The Former CIA Agent Who Prompted The Torture Report Speaks From Prison.

"Obama's intelligence policy is essentially an extension of the Bush administration, but bloodier."

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This is still something liberals have not come to grips with, despite mounds of facts. It's satisfying to focus anger on Dick Cheney - and certainly correct - but the evidence could hardly be stronger that the Obama administration is far more guilty of war crimes, secret government and modes of tyranny (including an all-out offensive on journalists and whistleblowers) than Cheney-Bush. Liberals have never been able to get their heads around who Obama really is; it's too counter to their media-massaged perception and their deeply baked-in beliefs and self-view of sophisticates battling the ignorance of rednecks and Palinites. It's necessarily self-delusional, lest their worldview be shaken to the core. It's almost like too devastating a psychological breakdown would occur should they acknowledge their own complicity in everything they profess to be against.

* Roger Waters: A Gitmo Story.

* Doonesbury: Mr. Tobacco & Mr. Alcohol.

* In Brooklyn, A Pattern Of Guns That Seem To Have Been Planted On Black Men.

* State Aid To Prop Up Nukes? Exelon Says No - In Ohio.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Packin'.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:35 AM | Permalink

December 24, 2014

The [Christmas Eve 2014] Papers

Over the transom.

1. "Need some xmas dinner conversation topics?"

Why, yes, Verso Books! Something safe to discuss with the in-laws.

"All books on Israel/Palestine are 50% off through Dec. 31st!"

Perfect.

versonuts.jpg

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2. The Illinois GOP's War on Christmas continues.

Holiday2014.gif

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3. The Trews.

Previously: The Trews vs. Sainsbury's Xmas Advert.

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4. Sleigh Full of Heartache.

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5. ICYMI: A few of my not-so-favorite things.

Bonus carol:

Here come the Bears, there go the Bears
Here come the Bears, there go the Bears
Here come the Bears, there go the Bears
Here come the Bears, there go the Bears

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BeachBook
* Castle Chicago Closing.

"The River North icon has lasted 25 years under different names, including Excalibur and Limelight."

* The Other Torture Report: The Secret CIA Document That Could Unravel The Case For Torture.

Shows that, internally, the CIA agrees with its critics.

* Juan Williams' Son On Why He Became A Republican.

The answer: My father grew up poor and liberal programs helped him attain wealth. I grew up rich and conservative programs will help me retain wealth. Also: I learned the exact wrong lessons from my father's upbringing.

* Off Duty, Black Cops In New York Feel Threat From Fellow Police.

Localize, please.

* Rex Grossman Turns Down The Browns.

Rex Grossman is our quarterback.

* Johnny Manziel Does His Job Better Than Sportswriters Do Theirs.

"Sports reporters are often like a dumb herd of sheep, heading all in the same direction for reasons they don't understand."

News reporters too.

* Wealthy Donors Sided With Democrats In Midterms.

That's the matter with Kansas.

* Why Do Cable News Shows Use So Many Celebrity 'Experts'?

What this article gets wrong is blaming an abundance of airtime to fill. Even a 24-hour-a-day news network can't possibly cover everything newsworthy going on in the world. That's a cop-out. The real answer: These aren't news shows, they are entertainment shows milking "news" for material.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Boughs of folly.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:24 AM | Permalink

Sleigh Full Of Heartache

At the Acoustic Explosion Holiday Spectacular at Silvie's Lounge on Monday night.


See also:

* John Kuczaj records as Atomic Shop.

* Steve Dawson.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

December 23, 2014

The [Tuesday] Papers

Deborah Quazzo, you are This Week's Worst Person in Chicago.

And not even because of your misdeeds per se, but because your misdeeds are stressing me out. I'm trying to take at least a little bit of a break this week.

Can't we all agree on a true? Like Christmas 1914?

Speaking of which . . .

Russell Brand nails it again. Happy holidays!

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Did it even really happen? Not really.

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Happy New Year!
Other people I wish would shut up this week: Robbie Gould, John Kass, Rahm's re-election campaign, Robert Blagojevich, Stephanie Neely's pension, and the utter unusability of the latest iteration of the new Sun-Times website. I will get to you all soon enough.

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Porn, Chicken & Bitcoins
In The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 2.

Even if you don't care about college football bowl games, this is a fun read.

Scared Of Santa
Terror in Toyland.

Brought to us by two former Tribune editors.

The Santa Odds
If you care to make Christmas interesting.

I, for one, do.

A Classic Chicago Television Christmas
Roll tape.

Safe for work.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Scott Lucas and the Married Men, Born of Osiris, Davy Knowles, The Expo76 Holiday Dance Party with Robert Cornelius, Los Lobos, Battleships, Abrade, and Pizza Hi-Five.

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BeachBook
* NLRB Rules McDonald's Actually Is Responsible For Mistreating Workers.

* Blue Lives Matter.

* Marshawn Lynch's Non-Answers To Stupid Questions Have Reporters Furious.

* Can One Person Run Long Freight Trains Alone? Railroad Execs Say Yes.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Breaking bad.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 PM | Permalink

The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 2: Porn, Chicken & Bitcoins

Miami Beach Bowl
Memphis Tigers 55, BYU Cougars 48 (2OT)
December 22, 1 p.m.
Marlins Park, Miami

If you missed it, the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl ended in a double-overtime shootout and an all-out brawl immediately following the thrilling finish. No one seems to know who started the fight or why. Memphis coach on Justin Fuente: "I don't know what happened, so I don't know how upset I am." The skirmish has forever marred the nonexistent history of Miami Beach's preeminent, and by that we mean only, bowl game.

The game also featured sideline reporter Allison Williams, who is neither a) actress Allison Williams, daughter of news broadcaster Brian Williams, cast member of HBO's Girls, and the star of NBC's Peter Pan Live!, nor b) former Miss West Virginia Allison Williams, and especially not c) an alleged reporter named Allison Williams from Virginia who starred in a sex tape porn vendors marketed as the pageant star. Reportedly, porn sites pictured Williams alongside links to download the video, a grainy film (take our word for it, the film quality is pretty poor) allegedly recorded in the production van of Virginia television station WVEC, "Hampton Roads' trusted source for local news." And amateur porn.

Our pick: We liked Memphis, by 2. The line opened around -1, moved northward to a 'pick' at some sportsbooks, and was then pushed back to -1.5 or -2, depending where you looked. The sharps knew something. Worth noting if you monitor line movements.

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Boca Raton Bowl
Marshall Thundering Herd (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois Wolfpack (11-2)
December 23, 5 p.m.
FAU Stadium

(ESPN's Quint Kessenich will handle the sideline reporting for the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl. Suffice it to say, QK should never fear any coincidental mix-ups with pageant winners and amateur porn stars. He must have among the most Googleable names of any television personality. Although classifying Kessenich as such may be a stretch but he is quite the looker, pageant-winner or no.)

Despite the gaudy records and conference championships for both teams, neither ranked among the Top 25 in the AP or College Football Playoff polls. The Herd and Wolfpack suffer from playing in lesser leagues (Conference USA and MAC, respectively) and Marshall takes a double-whammy hit for a soft schedule. At one point in the season, wags wrote about the merits of an undefeated Marshall team taking a playoff spot but a loss to unranked (yet bowl bound!) Western Kentucky (go Hilltoppers!) late in the season torpedoed that conversation. No doubt the Playoff Committee celebrated at the time. Marshall would get rolled by any of the top teams, but members would have still suffered through weeks of criticism for making what would have been a pretty rational decision. No matter! The Herd have been relegated to the meaningless inaugural Boca Raton Bowl, scheduled to take place in FAU Stadium, which is in Boca Raton.

Our pick: Weird match-up. Marshall and NIU can both play the "no one respects us" (note: for good reason) card. While we're tempted to bite on the double-digit 'dogs (NIU +10), the offensive numbers for Marshall are astronomical: Second in the FBS in yards per game (563.4) and fifth (45.1 ppg) in scoring. We'll give the points.

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San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Navy Midshipmen (7-5) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (7-5)
December 23, 8:30 p.m.
Qualcomm Stadium

Why isn't this game played on an aircraft carrier? The USS Midway is right there! It's decommissioned and everything! No timeouts for takeoffs and landings, no risk of drone strikes at punts, and the deck would allow for plenty of space. The Midway's top level measures five acres. You could lay out the field and still have room for a petting zoo.

Our pick: The Aztecs look to jump from starches (having won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in '13) to shrubs as they welcome the Midshipmen to San Diego in what is essentially a home game for SDSU. We think the oddsmakers have this one dead-on, with the "visitors" getting the standard three points to account for the home field advantage. We flipped a coin and will take the favorite.

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Popeyes Bahama Bowl
Central Michigan Chippewas (7-5) vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (7-5)
December 24, 11 a.m.
Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas

This has to be the hands-down winner for the 2014 "just happy to be here" bowl. The game is being played in the Bahamas. The Bahamas. The weather forecast for game day is partly sunny, with a high of 79 and a low of 74. By contrast, here is the forecast for Wednesday in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., home of the Chippewas: Snow, high of 37, low of 32. As for Western Kentucky, the Hilltoppers would otherwise be in . . . Western Kentucky.

Our pick: We can't help but pick WKU at -3.5 despite the dreaded half-point "hook." Still, we have to guess both teams would be perfectly happy taking a No Decision and knocking off the afternoon for beach volleyball and some Popeyes Bonafide® Chicken.

As an aside, Popeyes is totally missing out on the trend toward innovative beverages offered by other fast food chains. Take Sonic, for example. The Ultimate Drink Stop® by The Drink Experts™ offers refreshing beverages such as Ocean Water® and POWERADE® Mountain Blast® Slush. Get on it, Popeyes. How about an ice-cold (virgin) Hurricane? An Absinthe Frappe for dessert? A Café Brulot Diabolique for the breakfast menu? Must we think of everything?

Hawai'i Bowl
Fresno State Bulldogs (6-7) vs. Rice Owls (7-5)
December 24, 8 p.m.
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu

We take issue with Fresno State earning a bowl bid. Beneficiaries of the inane "six wins and you're in" rule, the Bulldogs suffered humiliating defeats to teams with terrible records, such as UNLV (2-11) and Wyoming (4-8) en route to a sub-.500 season.

Our pick to replace Fresno State for this game, tie-ins not withstanding, would be Old Dominion. At 6-6, Old Dominion is bowl eligible. We can't believe there's any significant difference between Fresno's five wins in the Mountain West and the Monarchs' 4-4 record in Conference USA. Further, our game would be more fun.

Old Dominion features a pass-happy attack, led by senior QB Taylor Heinicke, who tallied up 3,476 yards passing and 30 TDs. That's good enough for 11th in yards and 9th in scores. He also punts! Heinicke posted an outrageous 47.2 yards per kick, coming in at fourth in the country among punters with at least 10 attempts. Old Dominion could call the rare fake-fake punt play by dropping back Heinicke to kick only to fake a pass and then reverse course to boot the ball 50 yards. The Rice kick returner would probably have to sit out the second half with anxiety attacks. Who wouldn't want to see that?

Here's the clincher: Old Dominion defeated Rice in Week Three by a score of 45-42. While the Hawai'i (note: autocorrect for that one is a pain) calls for an interconference match-up, we'd much rather see a rematch. The Monarchs just joined the FBS and would no doubt play their hearts out in the school's first-ever bowl game. Rice would be itching for revenge. Forget hypotheticals - if ESPN5 broadcast a simulated game via EA Sports College Football 2014, we'd watch.

Note: Using the 2015 version of the venerable video game franchise isn't an option, as Electronic Arts canceled the title in the wake of the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit and the resulting evaporation of the NCAA's myth of amateur athletics. As such, the logistics behind updating the Rice and Old Dominion rosters to 2014 would be daunting, although less so than you might guess. A group of diehards is leveraging a feature in the version from last season to update and post rosters for all 126 teams for 2014. Surely, the same guys could gin this up.

Our pick: The Monarchs, by a pixel in an imaginary squeaker.

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Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl
Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-5)
December 26, Noon
Cotton Bowl

Speaking of teams that don't belong in postseason play . . . your Fighting Illini! In his three years in Champaign, head coach Tim Beckman has compiled a 10-24 record. Closing out the season with wins over a mediocre (at best) Penn State squad and the down-on-their-luck Northwestern Wildcats may have delayed the inevitable, as U of I Mike Thomas Athletic Director maintains Beckman will play the remainder of his contract to 2016. Yet the Heart of Dallas Bowl may not offer much encouragement for Illini fans looking ahead to 2015. The offense squares off against a La-Tech "D" which has forced more turnovers (40) than any other in the country this season, surpassing the three-year total of Beckman's squad. A feeble run game (114th) won't help. A soft defense (109th in points against) will likely yield plenty of points to the Bulldogs high-powered "O" ranking 13th overall in total points.

Our pick: All that said, the Illini have managed to win some close games late in the season and Louisiana Tech may not deserve the 6-point edge. We prefer the "over" in what looks like a shootout: Illinois 34, Louisiana Tech 31.

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Quick Lane Bowl
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-5) vs. North Carolina Tarheels (6-6)
December 26, 4:30 p.m.
Ford Field, Detroit

The Quick Lane Bowl? Can we find a less inspiring name? We liked the game's predecessor far better. In an offseason shuffle, the Detroit Lions stepped up to co-sponsor an as-yet-unnamed game at Ford Field, displacing the Little Caesars Bowl. Paired with Ford Motor Company's Quick Lane auto shop, the new bowl inherited the traditional (if we can call it that) December 26 slot on ESPN. No word yet if Pizza! Pizza! will be served.

Reportedly, both teams relish the chance to take their talents to the Motor City, especially the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers QB Gary Nova on living it up in Detroit: "[W]e get a chance to see a little bit of the city and take advantage of it." Hopefully, the little bit you won't see is the sprawl of urban blight, Gary. Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, on the hubbub leading up to the game: "There seems to be a lot of excitement in the hotel here already, so that's a good sign." (Read: "There's no way these kids are leaving the hotel. I'll bring in strippers. We'll set up blackjack tables. Whatever it takes.")

Our pick: North Carolina. The Tarheels will know better than to be seduced by Detroit's charms.

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Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl
NC State Wolfpack (7-5) vs. UCF Knights (9-3)
December 26, 7 p.m.
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Nothing says more about the world we live in than a cryptocurrency sponsoring a college football bowl game. Can you buy hotdogs with bitcoins at the game? Will the menu prices fluctuate in tune with the international bitcoin market?

Also: RIP, Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl. We will miss you.

Our pick: The Knights, -2.

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Previously: The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 1: Cheap Trick, Gold Toes & Loaded Potatoes.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:14 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Scott Lucas and the Married Men at the Hideout on Saturday night.


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2. Born of Osiris at Durty Nellie's in Palatine on Saturday night.

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3. Davy Knowles at Martyrs on Thursday night.

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4. Los Lobos at City Winery on Friday night.

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5. Expo76 Holiday Dance Party with Robert Cornelius at Mayne Stage on Friday night.

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6. Pennal Johnson at Reggies on Friday night.

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7. Battlecross at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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8. Abrade at Mousetrap on Saturday night.

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9. Pizza Hi-Five at Mousetrap on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Presents: A Classic Chicago Television Christmas

With commercials.


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

* Fuzzy Memories TV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

Scared Of Santa

"It was at an annual meeting of the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors (now the Society for Features Journalism) - during a 'Show and Steal' presentation of conference attendees' favorite works - that (Denise) Joyce saw a series of photographs the Palm Beach Post had run of crying kids on Santa's lap. She took the idea home to try in Q , one of the Tribune's Sunday lifestyle sections," the Fort Myers Florida Weekly reports.

When they asked readers to send in photos of their scared kids on Santa's lap, she says, "I was expecting maybe 15, 20 pictures. How many can there be out there?"

But every day, more pictures would arrive. They kept coming.

"Nancy (Watkins) and I were thinking: This is fabulous! We were laughing every day. They just kept coming in. It crashed the email system."

The paper put a photo gallery online.

"They kept putting it up, in 2004 and in 2005," Ms. Joyce says. "The thing was a click magnet. We got over a million hits to the photo gallery."

Because the site was getting such heavy traffic, their editor asked them to do the feature in the paper again.

Once again, it was wildly successful.

So successful that a literary agent called Ms. Joyce and said he thought it'd make a good book."

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From Amazon:

"Nothing says Christmas quite like innocent children shrieking with terror as a stranger dressed in red drags them kicking and screaming onto his lap. Now this time-honored rite of passage is celebrated with a hilarious collection of more than two hundred and fifty priceless photos of kids' traumatic trips to Santa's workshop.

"Scared of Santa offers a cornucopia of photographic funnies - from sixty-year-old family heirlooms to last year's howlers - along with delightful commentary on those unforgettable childhood visits to scary ol' Saint Nick."

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The Tribune gallery is still up.

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Other galleries:

* Today.

* The Columbus Dispatch.

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Do They Know It's Christmas Time At All?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:56 AM | Permalink

What Are The Odds That Santa Claus Actually Comes To Town?

With just days until Christmas, children and adults across the globe are hoping to get all the presents on their wish lists. Once again, one man is deemed with delivering all these presents the world over. Will Santa Claus once again get the job done? Is this the year that Santa doesn't show up? Will Santa's sleigh break down during his journey? Will he deem you naughty and put coal in your stocking? Once again beating everyone down the chimney the most reliable and accurate odds/information source on the web MyTopSportsbooks.com posted odds on all things related to Santa Claus!

"Now that everyone has a camera on their phone the race is on to be the person to video Santa Claus joyfully yelling, 'Ho, Ho, Ho!,'" said MyTopSportsbooks.com spokesman Geoff Johnson.

Analysts at MyTopSportsbooks.com posted the following odds regarding Santa Claus and Christmas:

Santa gets snowed in: 1000/1

Santa oversleeps: 25/1

Santa puts coal in your stocking: 3/1

Santa is real: 1/100

Santa is seen eating cookies in your kitchen: 1000/1

Over/under on Santa's weight: 240

Santa gets stuck in your chimney: 2/1

Santa's Christmas delivery list gets hacked: 5/1

Which city will Santa need to stop in to service his sleigh?

Mogadishu: 3/1
Caracas: 3/1
Alderaan: 3/1
Pittsburgh: 3/1

Santa shaved off his beard: 25/2

Santa upgraded to a more modern uniform: 25/2

Where Santa will vacation on December 26:

Scottsdale: 3/1
South Pole: 8/1
Silicon Valley: 20/1
Pittsburgh: 1000/1

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For full analysis and further explanation, go here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

December 22, 2014

The [Monday] Papers

Even in holiday mode, the Beachwood delivers!

* SportsMonday: Jimmy Pickles Proves A Point - About Jay Cutler.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #36: Red-Light Rahm's Rear-Enders.

* Chicagoetry: Pinball Lizard/Guitar Zero.

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock will appear tonight or tomorrow.

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BeachBook
* Moody's: End Of NJ Red-Light Cameras A Blow To Town Budgets.

* CIA Giving Itself A Pass For Spying On Oversight Committee.

* Bobcat Hunting May Return To Illinois After 40-Year Hiatus.

* Let This Crack Chicago Designer Turn Your Address Into A Logo And A Stamp.

* It's Official: The Death Star Controls Walmart On The Lake.

* Barbara Trent Balin, Co-Owner Of Peppermint Lounge, Dies At 85.

* Three Members Of Congress Just Reignited The Cold War While No One Was Looking.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Repeatedly. Different lies, too. And got away with it.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Cold and crunchy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 PM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Pinball Lizard/Guitar Zero

PINBALL LIZARD/GUITAR ZERO

I'd hate to have "HATE"
Murdered to my brow
Or tattooed on my forearm
Like graffiti on a freight car.

I'd be tempted by the allure
Of a refusal to endure.

I'd teeter like a leaper
From the Hancock ledge
Or swan-dive to the river
From the State Street bridge.

My life would flash before me
In a freeze-frame collage:
Holtzman at Wrigley,
Zeppelin at the Stadium;

Christmas '69,
New Year's '93;

A bar-full of silence
At the end of my song;
Her grimace of despair
As she turned away forever,

The actual murder
Of a beloved friend.
Like avalanches of regret
In the caverns of insomnia,

Somehow the hurt
Is what mostly sticks.
And the recurring feeling,
Always being one letter off:

Struggling to be whole
I found four thousand holes,
Striving for love
I managed to lose;

Rather than endure,
I'd End U.
As I plummeted to Earth
I'd ricochet off a hearth,

Perhaps snag upon a scaffold
The Hancock window washer left
Or bounce across the ice
Along the river in winter,

Falling like blues,
Like hail.

In the final lunge for grace
I'd simply lose all face,
Bet everything and lose
And end up still alive.

But only if I let hate
Murder my crow,
My emblem of stoic endurance,
My stolid genius of love.

In a will to power
With a lust for glory
I strove for fame
And found myself

Spiritually lame,

Like the Pinball Lizard
Or Malice Cooper,

These projections of ego
Just clumsy prayers for love.
Brow bruised by the hail
Of experience, then wisdom,

There came a benediction,
A revelation of compassion:
I'd hate it if I let hate
Murder my crow.

A simple convocation,
Not meant to put the trees
Upside down
Nor turn the breeze

Wrong way 'round.
I endured a difficult time
Then something fell out
Of the sky,

Something like grace,
Something like acceptance,
Something like love.
Yes: something very, very much

Like love.

It swan-dove
From the white-grey sky.
I endured:
The only type of leap

I actually made
(One of brute faith),
The only act of hope
I actually conjured.

Then I reached out
For help.
It took
A lot of work but

A tattoo across the brow
Only seems permanent;
Action that endures
Is true physical graffiti.

Not putting the trees
Upside down
Nor turning the breeze
Wrong way 'round:

Rescue (resuscitation!) from
An ego-driven Hell
Arrived at last when I finally
Learned to spell:

e-n-d-u-r-e.

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

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:48 AM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #36: Red-Light Rahm's Rear-Enders

City Hall causing crashes to balance budget. Plus: The Illinois GOP's War On Christmas; Bruce Rauner's Secret Act; A Few Of My Not-So-Favorite Things; and China's Christmas Village.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

:48: Podcast, Schmodcast, Might As Well Call It The Rahmcast.

1:17: Michelle Chamuel at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

2:35: China's Christmas Village!

* Flocking.

6:51: Red Dragon Cartel at Reggies last Saturday night.

7:25: A Few Of My Not-So-Favorite Things.

8:50: The Illinois GOP's War On Christmas.

10:34: The Birthday Massacre at Bottom Lounge last Sunday night.

11:48: Bruce Rauner's Secret Famous Musical Act.

* Dove Hunting With Ted!

* Perry Como Is Dead.

15:30: Mr. Gnome at Beat Kitchen last Saturday night.

16:50: Red-Light Rahm Runs Through The Facts.

* Crime, education.

* The liar narrative (that should have been pinned on Rauner, too, btw).

* Confirmed: The red-light camera program is bullshit.

* The so-called data mayor.

* Rahm and the BGA.

* Rahm & Bruce.

* BGA tweets Rahm.

And so on.

* Because up until now, he hasn't!

* The red-light camera program began in 2003.

* Fact: Rahm Emanuel is personally causing traffic accidents. For money.

* When the FAA pulled this sort of stunt.

* Rebekah Scheinfeld: Too dumb for your job or a liar? A liar.

* Anthony Beale, on the case.

44:46: Danny Brown at Thalia Hall last Friday night.

45:47: Rahm's False Statements.

* Rahm's trouble with the truth.

* Al Gore and the truth.

* In Rahm's case, it's true.

49:00: Slouching Toward 2015.

* Every year worse than the last.

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For archives and more, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:39 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Jimmy Pickles Proves A Point - About Jay Cutler

The vast majority of local sports punditry seemed pre-determined to not give any credit whatsoever to Jimmy Clausen - or, by proxy, Marc Trestman - regardless of the outcome of the Bears game on Sunday. I wish they'd get off his case.

Consider: Clausen hadn't started a game since 2010 and had gone three years without throwing a single pass in a real game until earlier this season - when he threw one.

Also consider he was facing one of the league's toughest defenses on a team playing for a playoff seed while his own side was in complete disarray - and missing its No. 1 receiver and playing two undrafted free agents on the offensive line.

Given that, I'd say Clausen's 23-of-39 for 181 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT (on the last play of the game) - plus nine yards rushing on three carries - was pretty damn respectable.

Most important of all was what Clausen did that Jay Cutler didn't in his time in there: He ran the offense as proscribed. Just like Josh McCown did last season, albeit with somewhat less success.

Oh, and did I mention Alshon Jeffery's drops?

Give the guy some credit - and give Trestman some credit. We now know definitively what we have in Jay Cutler, and it's not good.

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"The ball was never in harm's way, until the last play," former Bears quarterback Jim Miller said on The Score this morning, praising Clausen.

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During the game, Bears radio play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak continually remarked on Clausen's nice, tight spirals and hard, accurate throws.

Clausen was capable, which was enough.

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Here's the way AP's Andrew Seligman put it:

"After benching Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears nearly hung an embarrassing loss on the playoff-bound Detroit Lions.

"Thanks to a late touchdown run by Joique Bell, the Lions managed to get past Jimmy Clausen and the chaotic Chicago Bears 20-14 Sunday. That set up a showdown with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North championship."

Managed to get past Jimmy Clausen and the chaotic Chicago Bears.

"Matthew Stafford outplayed Clausen, but just barely."

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I normally wouldn't turn to a Rockford TV station to bolster an argument, but I came across a piece by Lauren Screeden up there headlined "Lions Trump Bears Despite Clausen's Efforts:"

"Jimmy Clausen did indeed provide a spark for the Bears. They played with more energy, more vigor and more life than we've seen in several weeks."

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Several game accounts noted that when Clausen bounced right up after getting speared in the helmet and got in Ziggy Ansah's face, his teammates took note.

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Does that mean Clausen is the answer? No. But you wonder how the season might have gone if Josh McCown had still been around to replace Cutler sooner. We should all feel clarified about Cutler at this point.

If anything, Clausen may have proven to be an acceptable answer as backup next year.

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An exception to the lame punditry: ESPN Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright.

"Clausen stayed within the confines of the scheme - which is what Trestman wanted all along from the original starter - without taking unnecessary risks and making the same game-changing mistakes that ultimately led to the decision to bench Cutler," Wright writes.

"[I]f Clausen plays mistake-free football within Trestman's scheme and experiences success to close the season next week at Minnesota, perhaps it proves the coach's system works just fine, and that Cutler was the problem all along. Again, it's probably too late for Cutler's benching to save Trestman's job. But if Clausen closes on a positive note, it at least gives ownership pause when making decisions about the futures of Trestman, Cutler and even Emery, who has been steadfast in his support of the quarterback."

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The Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom, on the other hand, argues that Clausen didn't deliver anything different than Cutler. Well, isn't that more an indictment of Cutler than Clausen?

I agree that Trestman and Phil Emery must go, but I don't see how that conclusion follows Clausen's performance unless the argument is that they erred badly in giving Cutler that huge contract and then not benching him sooner.

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You also can't argue that the Bears dropped passes all season with Cutler too, but then argue that Clausen was the beneficiary of turnovers that the defense hadn't gotten for Cutler. Neither is necessarily true.

"Alshon has 2 credited drops all year and he got 7 today. So no they don't drop like that all season," PrologueEpilogue wrote on Reddit, which carried the best, most informative thread about Clausen.

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Yahoo Sports Radio's Jason Goch also brought some needed perspective to the proceedings:

Remember, McCown last year threw 13 TDs against just one INT.

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Finally, the Bears can't even got their soda right.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays - except when he's on vacation. We still welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:34 AM | Permalink

December 20, 2014

The Weekend Desk Report

"The Chinese city of Yiwu, about 250 kilometers from Shanghai, is often referred to as China's 'Christmas village' thanks to the massive amount of holiday-related merchandise made there," Quartz reports.

Click through to read this heartwarming story, and have a happy holiday!

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Give The Gift Of Beachwood
A perfect stocking stuffer*.

* Not made in China.

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The Beachwood Radio Network

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #36 is in production!

Hoo boy, it's gonna be a good one!

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #30: The Must-See Bears!

Weirdest, Worst, Wackiest Bears Team Ever. Plus: Duncan Keith, MVP; We [Heart] Pau; and Theo (Almost) Forgets The Cole Slaw.

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The Beachwood Weekend Sports Report

* The College Football Report Bowl Preview Part 1: Cheap Trick, Gold Toes And Loaded Potatoes.

* The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Go Fightin' Clausens!

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report

"Jim and Greg look back at 20 years of the groundbreaking alt-country label Bloodshot Records. Plus a review of the long-awaited new album by soul artist D'Angelo."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report

Cirque Jamboree

"Get your peanuts and enjoy this circus-themed dance performance by youth and adult students of the Burnett School of Performing Arts, presented by Cherone Burnett."

Saturday at 7 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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BeachBook
* A Big Safety Net And Strong Job Market Can Co-Exist. Just Ask Scandinavia.

Ask Germany and Australia too; they're all kicking our butt. Strong, healthy societies create strong economies.

* CEO Gives Back Bonus, Says He Doesn't Deserve It.

None of them do.

* BlackBerry Works With Boeing On Phone That Self-Destructs.

I think the Bears already have one.

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TweetWood

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Pickled.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:42 AM | Permalink

December 19, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #30: The Must-See Bears!

Weirdest, Worst, Wackiest Bears Team Ever. Plus: Duncan Keith, MVP; We [Heart] Pau; and Theo Forgets The Cole Slaw.


SHOW NOTES

* Lynn Dickey.

* Don Majkowski.

* Pele.

* Jon Lester.

* Walter Payton.

* Kerry Wood.

2:30: Weirdest, Worst, Wackiest Bears Team Ever.

* Aaron Kromer.

* Must-See TV.

* Boy Clausen.

* Contract is destiny.

* SportsTuesday: Fire Away.

* David Fales.

* Todd Bowles.

* Hub Arkush on Mike Holmgren.

* Mike Florio: Why Not Mike Shanahan?

* Montreal honors Trestman.

* Alouettes on Trestman.

* Jimmy Clausen picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

* The All-22s.

* Al-Anon.

* 'That Joke Has Everything:' David Letterman Before Late Night.

* Trestman's Redemption.

50:12: We [Heart] Pau.

* Call 911 - Pau Gasol is on fire.

* Derrick Rose Out With Illness.

* Steve Kerr Always Tells It Like It Is.

* Thibodeau: Thank God For Jimmy Butler.

* LaMarcus Aldridge in a Bulls hat.

* Cooking For Kyle Korver.

1:01:25: Duncan Keith, MVP.

* Blame Blues, Not Ducks, For NHL Mumps Outbreak.

* Unvaccinated.

1:05:50: Theo FAIL!

* Cubs To Sign David Ross.

* The Wild Offseason Of The Amazing Padres.

* Adam's Ribs.

STOPPAGE: 9:22.

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For archives and more, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:14 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Chicago's red light cameras fail to deliver the dramatic safety benefits long claimed by City Hall, according to a first-ever scientific study that found the nation's largest camera program is responsible for increasing some types of injury crashes while decreasing others," the Tribune reports.

The state-of-the-art study commissioned by the Tribune concluded the cameras do not reduce injury-related crashes overall - undercutting Mayor Rahm Emanuel's primary defense of a program beset by mismanagement, malfunction and a $2 million bribery scandal.

Emanuel has credited the cameras for a 47 percent reduction in dangerous right-angle, or "T-bone," crashes. But the Tribune study, which accounted for declining accident rates in recent years as well as other confounding factors, found cameras reduced right-angle crashes that caused injuries by just 15 percent.

At the same time, the study calculated a corresponding 22 percent increase in rear-end crashes that caused injuries, illustrating a trade-off between the cameras' costs and benefits.

That looks like a trade-off of -7 percent, though I'm admittedly not taking into account raw numbers.

Let's read on.

The researchers also determined there is no safety benefit from cameras installed at intersections where there have been few crashes with injuries. Such accidents actually increased at those intersections after cameras went in, the study found, though the small number of crashes makes it difficult to determine whether the cameras were to blame.

Let's repeat that first sentence, with italics: The researchers also determined there is no safety benefit from cameras installed at intersections where there have been few crashes with injuries.

Previous reporting has shown that cameras aren't placed at intersections that "need" them for safety's sake, but at intersections most likely to produce revenue.

The finding raises questions about why the city installed cameras in so many places where injury-causing crashes were rare - nearly 40 percent of the 190 intersections that had cameras through 2012, the Tribune found.

We know why.

"The biggest takeaway is that overall (the program) seems to have had little effect," said Dominique Lord, an associate professor at Texas A&M University's Zachry Department of Civil Engineering who led the Tribune's study.

"So the question now is: If we eliminate a certain type of collision and increase the other and overall it stays the same, is there an argument that it is fair to go with the program?" Lord said. "That is a question that I cannot answer.

"Just the elected officials can answer for that."

Ha.

Emanuel declined interview requests.

Let me fix that for you: "Emanuel, in the midst of a re-election campaign, once again refused to answer questions about one of his signature programs."

His top transportation experts acknowledged flaws in the city's statistics but said the Tribune study reinforces their own conclusion that cameras are helping.

No! The Tribune study does nothing of the sort!

Chicago Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said the city has never attempted a deep examination of the effectiveness of the largest automated enforcement program in the country, which has grown to more than 350 red light cameras and raised more than $500 million in $100 tickets since 2002. She said the Emanuel administration, now in its fourth year, is attempting to fix a long-standing lack of oversight.

If the city hasn't examined the program's effectiveness, how can Scheinfeld claim the Trib's study reinforces their own conclusion? The city doesn't have a conclusion!

"[T]he fact is, the important thing I want to make sure that we get across here is that there are less deaths out there, there are less injuries out there and we are very encouraged by that."

Not attributable to the red-light program there aren't.

Several national traffic experts consulted by the Tribune called the study a valid examination that largely mirrors the results of similar scientific efforts conducted around the country that found moderate decreases in T-bone crashes coupled with increases in rear-enders as drivers hit the brakes to avoid camera-generated tickets.

The study findings also dovetail with the Tribune's examination of how short yellow light times at Chicago's traffic signals raise the stakes for drivers.

In other words, the city is making intersections more dangerous.

As recently as October, transportation chief Scheinfeld appeared before a City Council hearing to defend the red light camera program armed with poster boards boasting a 47 percent reduction in right-angle crashes at camera-equipped intersections and a 22 percent drop in all types of injury crashes.

Those numbers are from a report on the city's website with a list of crash statistics at each of the red light camera intersections from 2005 and from 2012.

"Since being launched more than a decade ago, the red light camera program has been a critical part of our efforts to improve the safety of our streets," Scheinfeld told the assembled aldermen. "The most recent crash statistics available from the state show that at intersections with red light cameras, the number of dangerous T-bone, angle crashes decreased by 47 percent between 2005 and 2012."

Given those numbers, the effectiveness of red light cameras would be difficult to dispute. But a half-dozen traffic engineering experts interviewed by the Tribune all agree that simple before-and-after comparison is not an effective measure. It doesn't account for changes in traffic flow because of the economic recession, or the improved safety of automobiles or any number of factors that have brought down crash numbers throughout the nation.

And most important, experts say, it doesn't account for any significant changes in the way accidents are reported to state transportation officials.

For instance, in 2009 the Illinois Department of Transportation changed the threshold for reporting property damage accidents to $1,500 in damage from $500, a rule change that prompted accident reports statewide to plummet by nearly 30 percent. That change alone renders the city's safety claims invalid, experts say.

Is it perjurious to lie to the city council? Contempt of council?

"The city's study is worthless, making no adjustments for any potential bias," said Joseph Hummer, professor and chairman of civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State in Detroit. He also noted that, for some sites, the city used 2005 data in the "before" section of its analysis even though the cameras had been installed there in 2003 and 2004.

Scheinfeld said in an interview last week that the city's safety claims are based on "more basic," nonscientific comparisons of crash statistics. She said the state transportation department statistics are "still the best information that we have, and we acknowledge they have made that change in their reporting methodology, and it would have some impact on those numbers, but we don't know exactly what impact."

Scheinfeld said she was aware of the flaw in the data when she presented the city's safety claims to aldermen.

I suggest the jury be dismissed, and we move to an article a session. The witness has rights.

"We weren't saying that those reductions are all attributable directly to, or only to, the installation of red light cameras," Scheinfeld said. "What we are saying is that we are seeing these trends which are very encouraging at those locations where we have red light cameras."

Oh, Rebekah. You suck so bad.

Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, chairman of the council Transportation Committee, said the city's numbers come as no surprise: "Those numbers the city uses have never made any sense. Of course they are skewing the numbers."

"That program needs to be stopped. It needs to be frozen to give us time to re-evaluate everything," Beale said. "This is just more proof that this entire program is strictly to generate revenue and always has been."

Oh good, the city council is on it.

Anthony? Ald. Beale?

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Mailbox Message
Good question.

The Picture Of Women's Health
Not Britney.

Cheap Trick, Gold Toes & Loaded Potatoes
In The College Football Report Bowl Preview Part 1.

Obama Issues Rare Pardon To A Chicago Merc Trader
Total coincidence.

The Miracle Of Congressukah
World's most expensive Christmas tree.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Michelle Chamuel, Centro-matic, and Brice Woodall.

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BeachBook
* Oak Lawn Toyota Attempts 'Dick In A Box' Parody, Fails Spectacularly.

* Label Rediscovers Secret Stash Of Chicago R&B.

* The Year In False Confessions.

* Handy Device Keeps Your Mustache Dry While Drinking Beer.

* Making Babies Starts With Fireworks, Sort Of.

* Oh Good, More Stuff For Rich People.

* Torture: What Bush Knew And When He Knew It.

* Running Scared (Blu-ray).

* Dan Hampton Thinks Torture Is Funny.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Not buckling.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Michelle Chamuel at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.


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2. Centro-matic's farewell tour at Schubas on Monday night.

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3. Brice Woodall at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:07 AM | Permalink

The Miracle Of Congressukah

Tainted.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:06 AM | Permalink

The Picture Of Women's Health

The latest issue of Women's Health magazine has been doing the rounds, but all for the wrong reasons.

Women's Health claims that Britney Spears is on the latest issue of the magazine, but many are not convinced.

Designers from around the world decided to hop on to DesignCrowd, a virtual design studio, to re-create the magazine cover. And the results are hilarious.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox

Good question.

whatifwearewrong300.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report Bowl Preview Pt. 1: Cheap Trick, Gold Toes & Loaded Potatoes

A long slate of bowl games kicks off on Saturday in a postseason that will include the inaugural four-team format to decide the national championship. Before we reach the championship game on January 12, 36 other (non-playoff) match-ups will take place featuring teams from far-flung places (Central Michigan, Western Kentucky) facing off in exotic locales (Boise, Detroit) in historic venues (Ladd-Peebles Stadium, in Mobile, Ala.) with the endorsement of the nation's preeminent companies (Royal Purple, Duck Commander). Fortunately for you, The College Football Report is here, bringing you an exclusive preview of the biggest games and a sneak peek at those you might not know existed. It's a holiday miracle. Shout and rejoice.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Nevada Wolfpack (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (8-4)
December 20, 10 a.m.
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

The Cajuns finish 2014 in New Orleans for the fourth straight year, having won three straight R+L Bowls. Sadly, area fans have not responded with enthusiasm. After setting attendance records for three seasons, the chances of a full house look slim. The 10 a.m. kickoff, moved up in response to ESPN's schedule demands, has put a damper on things.

No one expects Wolfpack fans to fill the empty seats, despite the enticing lure of the free concert Friday night featuring "70s hitmakers" Cheap Trick and Kool & the Gang.

Note for those planning to attend: The show has been moved inside the Smoothie King Center due to the possibility of inclement weather.

Our pick: Considering the tepid interest, we like the prospects of Nevada getting points (+1) on the road.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Utah State Aggies (9-4) vs. UTEP Miners (7-5)
December 20, 1:20 p.m.
University Stadium, Albuquerque

In the words of head coach Matt Wells, Utah State is "very, very hungry." Too bad, because the Aggies missed a chance at the Idaho Potato Bowl with a loss to Boise State in the season finale. Gildan makes Gold Toe socks, which are inedible. Unless you're a moth.

Our pick: UTEP, +10. If there's one thing a Miner needs to win, it's comfortable feet.

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
#22 Utah Utes (8-4) vs. Colorado State Rams (10-2)
December 20, 2:30 p.m.
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

The Florida Gators poached Colorado State's head coach, leaving the Rams shepherdless in Las Vegas. If there's anywhere in the country you'd least like to have uncastrated quadrupedal ruminant mammals roaming free, it's Sin City. On the other sideline, chief Ute Kyle Whittingham looks to add to his postseason scalp total. He owns a career 7-1 record in bowl play.

Our pick: #SackLakeCity has led the nation in sacks for nine straight weeks, averaging over four per game. That's enough to give even the Rams' sterling QB (Garrett Grayson, who finished second in total passer rating to Heisman-winner Marcus Mariota) the willies. In a virtual toss-up (CSU favored by 3), we'll choose the team with the fun hashtag.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Western Michigan Broncos (8-4) vs. Air Force Falcons (9-3)
December 20, 4:45 p.m.
Albertsons Stadium, Boise

Our favorite, the Potato Bowl. Every year, we take the opportunity to spotlight the latest Potato Bowl innovation and 2014 is no different. Last month, just in time for our bowl preview, KFC launched a new Loaded Potato Bowl. Loaded with what, you ask? Why, "chicken and cheesy bacon goodness," of course. Should the bacon and cheese sauce leave you wanting, fear not. The Colonel has you covered - with a sprinkled blend of three cheeses.

Our pick: We fear the Broncos and the Loaded Bowl will fall short. While adding the cheese sauce has infused a creamy flavor, accented by the introduction of a fresh pop in the green onions, the lower sodium content may leave diners missing the mouthfeel of the original, KFC's Famous Bowl.

As for the action on the field, the Broncos will be facing the only team other than #9 Ole Miss to have defeated two opponents with 10-plus wins in 2014. If that's not a telling data point, we don't know what is. We like the favorites, Falcons -1.

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
South Alabama Jaguars (6-6) vs. Bowling Green Falcons (7-5)
December 20, 8:15 p.m.
Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.

The Worldwide Leader has just started making up bowl games in its quest for total sports airtime domination during "bowl season." With but a single game remaining outside the clutches of ABC/ESPN (the Hyundai Sun Bowl, broadcasted by - only temporarily, we assume - CBS), ESPN has gobbled up the remainder, with many now under the ownership of ESPN Regional Television. ESPN RT acquired the Idaho Potato Bowl in 2013 and awarded Montgomery with its latest invention earlier this year, the Camellia Bowl.

With more money available via the Playoff revenue sharing agreement, smaller conferences (such as the MAC and Sun Belt, represented in the Camellia) can bid on bowl tie-ins. Combined with a television market that has (somewhat to our amazement) not yet reached a saturation point and municipalities desperate for tax revenues, the mix yields clunky creations like the Camellia Bowl.

Sacramento, California, the Camellia City, hosted the Camellia Bowl from 1961-1980. The bowl functioned as a playoff game for the lower divisions, including the Division II Championship from 1973-75. Now the Camellia has resurfaced in Montgomery's Cramton Bowl. So why not the Cramton Bowl? Two guesses: for one, ESPN and its sponsors may relocate in the future, and two, organizers may not want to remind people that the land for the stadium was once a sanitary landfill, donated to the city by Montgomery elder Fred Crampton.

Our pick: For starters, we would have gone with The Gump Bowl. But nobody asked us. We have absolutely no interest or position on the game, so lacking any other idea, we'll back the chalk: Jaguars, by 2.5

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Mike Luce is our man on campus - every Friday and Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 AM | Permalink

Obama Issues 12 Pardons. That's Still Far Fewer Than Predecessors

President Obama pardoned 12 people and commuted the sentences of eight others, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday. Those actions still leave Obama well behind recent presidents in his use of pardons.

A ProPublica analysis of Justice Department statistics in 2012 found that Obama had pardoned fewer people than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan at comparable points in their administrations. That still holds true for Clinton, the younger Bush and Reagan, the two-term presidents in that group.

Wednesday's announcement brings the total number of people Obama has pardoned in almost six years in office to 64. He has denied 1,487 pardon applications. The eight commutations announced on Wednesday mean that Obama has commuted the sentences of 18 Americans, more than any of his two-term predecessors through their first six years in office, according to Justice Department statistics. (The president also commuted the sentences of three Cuban spies - one of whom is American citizen - on Wednesday as part of a deal to normalize relations with Cuba.)

Commutations allow federal prisoners to go home early, while pardons let those convicted of crimes regain their rights to vote, possess firearms and get business licenses, and can make it easier to adopt children and pursue certain careers.

Last year, Obama commuted the sentence of Clarence Aaron, who had spent two decades in prison after being sentenced to three life terms on crack cocaine charges in 1993.

The White House had ordered a review of Aaron's case in 2012 after ProPublica and The Washington Post reported that the Justice Department's pardon attorney, Ronald Rodgers, had left out critical information when he recommended that President George W. Bush deny Aaron's application for clemency.

The Justice Department replaced Rodgers in April and announced that it would prioritize clemency applications from low-level, nonviolent offenders who met certain criteria.

Those criteria include being currently in federal prison, having served at least a decade with good conduct, not having a significant criminal history or a history of violence. They also targeted those who were convicted of federal crimes for which they likely would have received substantially less harsh sentences if convicted today.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. ProPublica and The Washington Post also found in 2011 that white criminals seeking pardons were almost four times as likely to succeed as those of other races, which prompted a study by the Justice Department. That study is still underway and is not expected to be completed until 2015.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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See also: Obama Pardons Former Chicago Mercantile Exchange Member.

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Previously:
* Obama Has Granted Clemency More Rarely Than Any Modern President.

* Despite New Pardons, Obama's Clemency Rate Is Still Lowest In Recent History.

* The Sweeping Presidential Power To Help Prisoners That Holder Didn't Mention.

* Obama Finally Lets Clarence Aaron Go Home.

* The Top 3 Reasons Why Obama's New Clemency Initiative Sucks.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

December 18, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

A few of my not-favorite things.

Cutler and Cuba and Bruce Rauner's Trash Van,
Kromer and Trestman and Obama's rad plan,
Putin and Sony and "The Interview,"
Daley sure left us a big pile of poo

Pat Quinn and Pat Kane, not two of a kind
Langford and Corgan, just one I don't mind
Ryan and Blago, one's still stuck in jail
Please tell Michelle I don't want no more kale

CPS, CPD, CIA, take 'em
Frack them and crack them and drown in the lake 'em
George Lucas, from Donald please take a clue
Don't Trump up the lakefront or Friends of will sue

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Yeah, I couldn't get cream-colored ponies in there.

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Maybe we'll bring back Beachwood carols this year. Whaddya think?

Backup Blues
If Josh McCown were still around, he probably would have been starting long ago - when the Bears season could still be saved.

Jimmy Clausen, on the other hand, is so bad he's not even the most popular person in the city, which is the role a back-up quarterback famously plays around here and elsewhere.

Astonishingly, Clausen was the Bears' plan if Cutler got hurt this year. More astonishingly, this is the one year Cutler hasn't gotten hurt.

In other words, Situation Normal All Fucked Up.

Cuba Tuba
To American journalists, the island nation consists solely of cigars and baseball players. Maybe the smarter ones think about things like the automobile aftermarket.

Oh sure, there's localization. Like this:

I'm trying to figure out what this means for the Cuban people - you know, actual humans, known only to us as "a market."

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My initial thoughts - without taking a position on normalizing relations - turned to this:

"In recent years, journalist jailings in the Americas have become increasingly rare, with one documented in each 2012 and 2013. This year, the region has two: a Cuban blogger was sentenced to five years in prison in retaliation for his critical blog, and in Mexico, an independent journalist and activist for Mayan causes has been charged with sedition."

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And then my thoughts turned to Sneed, and her inevitable retelling of drinking yak's milk or goat yogurt or whatever the hell it was (see the item Sneedlings) with George Ryan and Fidel Castro in Havana.

WTF? We only got Ryan. Maybe she's saving the rest for Sunday.

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Most Transparent Pt. 3,243,947
Obama's Justice Department Secretly Helped Kill FOIA Transparency Bill.

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Go Fightin' Clausens!
In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Most favored.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:06 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Go Fightin' Clausens!

Marred by controversy, the week leading up to the game featured an inside source claiming that the Bears offensive woes were largely the fault of quarterback Jay Cutler and ended with a coach crying in public.

In between, Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer held a press conference.

Making the big news of Week 15 caddy intra-team sniping after a Thursday night loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

While Kromer categorically denied the use of the terms "buyer's remorse," or "salary cap albatross" or "cocksucker who's cost every offensive coordinator he's worked with a goddamn," the damage was done.

The most likely outcome from this scenario is that Kromer will be fired because he violated the unwritten (and oft unobserved) rule that coaches must keep their personal criticisms of players within the locker room, or forced deep into their subconscious through out of control drinking habits.

Given how ineffective the Bears talent-laden offense has been this season, it's easy to overlook Kromer's major contribution to the Emery/Trestman/Cutler era, which is the major improvements to the performance of the offensive line over the past two seasons, last Monday's seven sack performance notwithstanding.

[Editor's Note: Easy there big guy. You're dangerously close to committing an actual football observation to print.]

[Carl's Retort: Don't worry boss. I'm about to insert an embedded video of Homer assaulting the Krusty Burgler because my brain has no skill outside of free association.]

[Editor's Note: Phew.]

Take a deep pull from that ether rag and harken back to a time when Jay Cutler was being sacked every 0.78 dropbacks: the 2009-2012 seasons.

[Shudders.]

Since Kromer's arrival, things improved mightily and in 2013 the Bears would have been a playoff team on the strength of the offense, if not for a season-long bout with the defensive mumps and an untimely two game slump in weeks 16 and 17.

[Editor's Note: Waaaaaaaait a minute. You've been a Cutler apologist for almost six seasons now. You covered for him when the receiving talent was bad, the offensive scheme was convoluted or non-existent and the line was awful. By process of elimination, this now makes the mess Jay Cutler's fault.]

I sure did and I stand by those opinions and still say that Jay Cutler has all of the tools needed.

So here's what I'm recommending:

Keep Kromer and Cutler together for one more season, but sometime this week arrange a Fight Club-style bare-knuckle duel between them.

Remember every '80s movie where the two protagonists would get into a fist-fight in front of a crowd of co-workers and when someone tried to stop them, another dude would step in and say something like "Let 'em go Stevenson, they gotta work it out!"?

Like that.

Shortly before press time, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Jay Cutler has in fact been benched, so with Jimmy Clausen in at quarterback this Sunday, there's really no reason for either Cutler or Kromer to avoid some healthy, physical and much needed discourse.

I don't really care who wins, just do me a favor and post it on YouTube before the end of the season.

And yes, I still believe Jay Cutler has the ability to perform at the level of a top 10 quarterback.

At some point, he's going to have to prove me right.

The Execution Will Be Televised
While the Bears were technically eliminated from playoff contention last week, Monday night's game was the real dagger in the heart of the 2014 season.

Anybody else feel like this?



This is the part of the relationship where you thought the last big argument was the end of it, but somehow the following encounter was entirely worse.

Vases were hurled, manhood was critiqued, mother-in-law's recipes were insulted and a couple of days worth of clothes was tossed into a suitcase.

You try to slam the sliding door to the porch and the accidentally shatter the glass and even though you hadn't meant to go out that harsh, you still raise a middle finger over your shoulder in response to the barrage of curse streaming out of your former domicile.

That's the way you want it baby? Then that's the way you gets it.

A week goes by and you come back to pick up your suits and Playstation 3. Well lookie who's a fan of the mailman.

And aren't those your track pants?

Thought we'd pretty much gotten all of the insults out of the way but I guess you should have called ahead before you came back to your home.

If that was Monday, what in the hell is Sunday supposed to be?

Channel Surfing
I'll be watching this weekend, because . . . well, I guess for the same reason that I visit the "Plumper Pass" section of Red Tube every now and again. I have deeply rooted self-esteem issues*.

Go Fightin' Clausens!

But since there's absolutely no reason for you to watch the game this weekend, I thought you might appreciate some alternative viewing options.

  • Telemundo, Noon: Domingo Torta Incorporado. Join Luz, Lourdes and Anna Maria Consuela Lupe Lopez-Weinstein de Guadalupe for an educational but fun-filled look into the world of mass-producing 3,400 calorie per serving Mexican sandwiches. On this week's episode ("El Iingrediente Secreto Es Tripa" S04/Ep12), the gang discovers what makes Goya's trademark Torta De Sol so yummy and you'll never guess whose wallpaper the Virgin Mary appeared in this time.
  • HBO, 1 p.m.: VICE. Correspondent Thomas Morton takes us deep into the seedy underbelly of the emerging aggro-polka scene inside Chicago's Ukrainian Village. Featuring the first face-to-face meeting between feuding accordion legend brothers Diabolical Dickey (Richard Lederhosen) and Fistin' Johnny (Johnathan Lederhosen) in over 10 years, Morton learns that blood does run thicker than water . . . and is harder to clean off the dance floor (Parental Discretion Advised).
  • The Food Network, 2 p.m.: Good Eats. Responding to a groundswell of public demand including a massive letter-writing campaign and a petition signed by over 25,000 viewers, the Food Network has agreed to air, for one afternoon only, the episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown details the various approaches to marinating and seasoning Italian people.
  • The Lifetime Movie Network, 3 p.m.: Seduced By Seduction: A Mother's Quest. Tracey Gold stars in an original movie inspired by true events. Wanting to provide a stable, safe environment for her 13-year-old son, a woman agrees to marry a man with enough money to make her car payments - but soon she discovers that $275 a month is not enough to keep an old flame out of her heart . . . or pants.
  • Spike, 4 p.m.: Ink Masters Season Finale Rebroadcast. In front of a live audience of millions, Dave Navarro's outfit answers the question, can a 45-year-old man pull off straight-ironed hair while wearing a black kimono?

Kool Aid (1 of 5 - Whiskey, Lots Of Whiskey)
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. - Hunter S. Thompson

Though wiser men than me have advised against it, I'm telling you that you're going to have to alter yourself badly to truly enjoy this game, so whether you're braving a trip through Bat Country or not, I strongly recommend you get any remaining Chanukah obligations out of the way, any last-minute Christmas shopping completed and leave your formal Kwanzaa dashiki at the dry cleaners 'til Monday, because one way or another you're probably going to throw up on Sunday afternoon if you watch this game.

Might as well be wreathed in smoke and pulling straight from a bottle of Single Barrel while dancing around your sweet new bachelor pad with a Capital Cities record blasting.

Oh yeah, I just looked at schedule again and realized that the Bears are playing the Lions.

They're going to lose.

Jimmy Clausen is no Jay Cutler and, yes, it can get worse.

Turnovers lead directly to points; the offense is exactly what you'd expect without a number one quarterback or receiver.

Detroit 34, Bears 10

* Speaking of self-esteem issues and adult videos, I'm old enough that the smut that I smuggled back to my adolescent lair is now categorized as "classic." Last weekend I watched 12 minutes of Catalina Five-O: Sixty-Nine and got legitimately nostalgic.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:47 AM | Permalink

December 17, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

Slouching toward 2015 . . .

1. Chicago Sports Anchor To Bears: Cut Jay Cutler Or Cut Your Wrists.

To be fair, I'm not sure if anchors write the chyrons.

2. Illinois Supreme Court Warning About Jury Duty Scam.

Whatever you do, don't call Captain Allen.

3. Rauner Might Rent While Mansion Repairs Are Made.

Can't he just sleep in his Trash Van?

4. Son Of Former Chicago Mobster Faces 2 Murder Charges In Idaho.

Michael S. Dauber, son of Billy.

5. Jay, Jay, Jay . . .

Another bad call.

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Bonus Item: As part of Obama's Cuba deal, Cubs required to wear 1984 throwback jerseys this year.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Black Joe Lewis, Red Dragon Cartel, The Birthday Massacre, Mr. Gnome, Danny Brown, Soft Speaker, The Head and the Heart, PHOX, Tyler the Creator, The Main Squeeze, The Heard, Adisent, Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood, Charlie Organaire and The Prizefighters, and Monty Neysmith and The Bishops.

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BeachBook
* The Torture Report's Missing Female Victims.

* Harper's Bazaar Didn't Use Any Models Of Color On Their Cover This Year.

* How Sony Gets Its Way With The New York Times.

* A Baltimore City Paper Column Bosses Didn't Want Readers To See, Because Tribune.

* NYT Corrects: Pope Didn't Open Heaven To Pets.

* Malcolm Gladwell Is A Fraud.

* Health Costs: The New York Times Does It Again.

* Imprisoned Journalists In 2014.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Slouch.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:33 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Black Joe Lewis at Thalia Hall on Sunday night.


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2. Red Dragon Cartel at Reggies on Saturday night.

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3. The Birthday Massacre at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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4. Mr. Gnome at Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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5. Danny Brown at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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6. Soft Speaker at Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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7. The Head and the Heart at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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8. Phox at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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9. Tyler, the Creator at the Concord on Sunday night.

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10. The Main Squeeze at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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11. The Heard at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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12. Adisent at Wire in Berwyn on Saturday night.

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13. Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood at the Vic on Saturday night.

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14. Charlie Organaire and The Prizefighters at Mayne Stage on Friday night.

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15. Monty Neysmith and The Bishops at Mayne Stage on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:04 AM | Permalink

December 16, 2014

The [Tuesday] Papers

"When Bruce Rauner takes his oath of office next month as Illinois governor, there will be no inaugural ball as part of the celebration," USA Today reports.

Presumably a ball would be too .01%-y.

"Rauner will be sworn in Jan. 12 as the state's 42nd governor - the first Republican in 12 years to preside in Springfield. The venture capitalist will take over for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, whom he defeated by nearly 5 percentage points last month.

"The Illinois inauguration activities announced Monday, along with a new website for the events, include free ticketed admission to the swearing-in ceremony at the Prairie Capital Convention Center, an open house with the governor and first lady at the Old State Capitol, and a concert instead of an inaugural ball that evening. Every Illinois governor since 1970 has had an inaugural ball, according to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency."

Huh. I hate that "ball" stuff, so this is actually refreshing.

"Rauner's team will announce a 'famous musical act' that will be featured at the inaugural concert at a later date. Tickets for the concert are $125 each."

Oh.

Um, okay.

$125.

Will it be worth it?

Our very own Tim Willette and I did some reporting this morning and obtained the minutes of an inauguration committee meeting about which which "famous musical act" to hire. The act would have to be both available and willing to travel to Springfield in January. Here are those minutes:

  • Chicago? Nah, wouldn't want to emphasize Chicago over downstate.
  • Styx? Nah, too devil-y.
  • Wilco? Tweedy does like Rahm ... but not famous enough that Republicans and legislators in general have heard of them.
  • Fleetwood Mac? They did play Sam Zell's birthday party ... but too Clinton-y.
  • Kanye? Non-starter. (But maybe Meeks knows him; check on it.)
  • Ted Nugent? That would fit. After: dove hunting! Move to Tier 1.
  • The Blues Brothers featuring Jim Belushi and that Roseanne dude? Again, too Chicago-y. But get Belushi for something. Bruce loves him.
  • Perry Como? Very Republican-y. See if he's alive.
  • Country? Of course! Garth Brooks? Not at $125 per.
  • Tim McGraw? Think smaller.
  • LeAnn Rimes? Check the tabloids.
  • Any famous barbershop quartets? Perfect!
  • Committee will reconvene this afternoon.

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Trailer: Chicago Public Schools: Closed
"Watch the trailer for a short documentary that follows Rousemary Vega, a parent turned activist, through the maze of hearings and protests that preceded the largest school closings in American history."

#RahmRepNow
Human Rights Organizations Urge Passage Of Reparations For Chicago Police Torture Survivors.

The Beachwood Radio Hour #35: Don't Feed The Comptrollers
The truth about Judy Baar Topinka. Plus: Hate Worldwide and Rahm vs. the Leftovers.

Keywords: Cat Stevens, Spock's Brain, Grayson Moorhead Securities, Marcel Pacatte, Rich Miller, Alan Keyes, Slayer, Hogan's Heroes, Ronald Reagan, Joseph Stalin, Peggy Noonan, Torture Report, Barbara Tuchman, John Conroy, Jon Burge, Helstar, Rahm Emanuel, Bob Fioretti, Chuy Garcia, Meg Myers, Chicago.

The Trews: Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Lifts Lid
Three years of (torturous) false imprisonment.

SportsTuesday: Fire Away
Earth to Bears: We watch the games!

The Joke Is On The #Bears
Caught in a landslide; no escape from reality.

A Very Angry Bears Fan Christmas
Even the Christians are mad.

Beachwood Sports Radio: Bears Remorse
Coach-Killer Cutler Kills Again.

Ornamenting The Holidays With Chicago Hot Glass!
It's super cool.

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BeachBook
* Witness 40: Exposing A Fraud In Ferguson.

* New York Duped By High School Kids.

* Chicago "ISIS" Store To Change Name Due To Harassment.

* Trail Of Tears In Downstate Illinois.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Styx-y.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:35 PM | Permalink

Ornamenting The Holidays With Chicago Hot Glass!

Hot glass is super cool. A tutorial.


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See also:
* Chicago Hot Glass.

Chicago's only public access glassblowing school and studio.

* 2 Girls and a Weekend YouTube channel.

* More Chicago Hot Glass.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:06 PM | Permalink

Human Rights Organizations Urge Passage Of Reparations For Chicago Police Torture Survivors

On December 16th, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM), We Charge Genocide, Project NIA and Amnesty International will hold a five-mile march, deliver a petition, reveal a list of "nice & naughty" alderpeople and hold a memorial at City Hall to demand passage of the Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors.

On October 16, 2013, a Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors was introduced in Chicago's City Council. It has already garnered the support of 26 alderpeople, with only one additional vote needed to pass the ordinance. Passage of the ordinance is also supported by the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

Amnesty International USA's board of directors recently sent a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling for passage of the ordinance. "As Amnesty International USA Board Members, we were happy to see your recent acknowledgement of the City of Chicago's enduring obligations to Chicago police torture survivors, their families and their communities. We ask you to continue to show your support by helping to pave the way for a prompt public hearing where the compelling reasons for passage of the ordinance can be fully aired."

Schedule:

12 PM / Police Headquarters: Chicagoans will march about five miles from Chicago Police Headquarters, at 3510 S. Michigan Ave, to City Hall, at 121 N. LaSalle.

2 PM / City Hall, 5th Floor: Marchers will deliver a petition with over 45,000 signatures in support of the Reparations for Chicago Police Torture Survivors ordinance. They will create a public memorial outside the Mayor's office and call for Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago City Council to pass the ordinance before the municipal elections this February.

5 PM: Post Action Gathering at Grace Place Church, 637 S. Dearborn.

Remote Action: Organizers are encouraging those who can't attend the action to participate via social media by using the #RahmRepNow hashtag to demand that Mayor Emanuel support the reparations ordinance, and by calling the Mayor's office at 312-744-3300 to advocate for the ordinance.

Visuals: Participants are asked to bring a photo, manifesto, momento, candle, sign, poem, or flower to City Hall.

About the Reparations for Chicago Police Torture Survivors ordinance:

Among other demands, the ordinance would require the city to administer financial reparations to all Burge torture survivors who are unable to sue for monetary damages because the statute of limitations for their claims has expired. The proposed ordinance would also provide all torture survivors and their families with tuition-free education at City Colleges; create a center on the South Side of Chicago that would provide psychological counseling, health care services and vocational training to those affected by law enforcement torture and abuse; and require Chicago Public Schools to teach about these cases and sponsor the construction of public torture memorials. It also asks the city's leaders to issue a formal apology to those who were tortured and their communities.

For the full text of the Reparations Ordinance, see: http://chicagotorture.org/#reparations

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:54 PM | Permalink

Trailer: Chicago Public Schools: Closed

Watch the trailer for a short documentary that follows Rousemary Vega, a parent turned activist, through the maze of hearings and protests that preceded the largest school closings in American history.


More at www.schoolprojectfilm.com.

Major figures in public education - Terry Mazany, Linda Lutton, Andrea Zopp, Karen Lewis, David Vitale, and Jitu Brown - help connect the dots between decades old education policies, demographic shifts, and the challenges facing CPS today.

This short film is a trailer for the second episode of The School Project, a documentary series by an exciting consortium of Chicago filmmakers including Siskel/Jacobs Productions, Kartemquin Films, Media Process Group, Free Spirit Media, and Kindling Group. The project is also partnering with the Chicago Sun-Times, WTTW-Chicago, Catalyst Chicago, The Chicago History Museum, and Ebony.com.

Follow @theschoolpr on Twitter and visit www.facebook.com/theschoolproject to learn more.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 PM | Permalink

The Trews: CIA Torture - Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Lifts Lid

Three years of false imprisonment, including torture.


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See also:
* Q & A with the Washington Post.

* BBC: Moazzam Begg Released After Terror Charges Dropped.

* Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment At Guantanamo, Bagram, and Kandahar.

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Previously:
* The Trews: What Should We Think About CIA Torture?

* Doc of Rages.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:21 AM | Permalink

A Very Angry Bears Fan Christmas

Join us for Christmas Eve services!


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The angry Bears fan is Phil Guay; his wife, Susan, helped spread the word.

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(h/t: WGN-TV)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:00 AM | Permalink

The Joke Is On The #Bears

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: Fire Away

Don't feel sad. Four out of five ain't bad.

The wrong-way Bears were back in action Monday night (a 31-15 loss to the Saints that dropped them to 5-9) but who cares? Not when the four other big-time teams in town are either piling up considerably more wins than losses or giving their fans legitimate optimism that they will do so when their seasons happen in the middle of next year. Right? Are you with me? Hell, I'm not with me.

Because of course fans do care. We can't help ourselves. People who know Chicago sports know that there are Cubs fans and there are White Sox fans. There are Bulls fans and there are Hawks fans.

Everyone who cares about Chicago sports cares about the Bears.

And they are just killing us, aren't they?

One element of last night that drove me around the bend was penalties on special teams. A few weeks ago I caught a portion of an interview with Robbie Gould in which he was working hard to convince us that Joe DeCamillis is actually a good special teams coach, despite what we have seen with our eyes this fall. When I say that, I am referring to the now familiar ritual of the Bears playing terribly and then the head coach and selected players coming around a day or two later and telling us they didn't actually play that poorly, everything is still okay and no change or accountability is required.

Earth to idiots: We watch the games! We can see with our eyes that you are playing awful football and should all be fired!

Gould's assertion dovetailed nicely with the popular refrain in certain portions of the sports commentariat that Phil Emery didn't give DeCamillis enough decent special teamers when the roster was finalized at the beginning of the season.

Can people, led by the kicker, shut up about that now? Four months into the season, any decent special teams coach would have developed better units with the players the Bears have here than the units the Bears sent out on the field last night.

Another brutal penalty on the opening kickoff return set the Bears way back. The Bears ran a joke of a fake punt that didn't work. Even if it had, the Bears would have been penalized for not having enough guys on the line of scrimmage (there were only 10, total, on the field) when the play started. Enough is enough.

One usually can't be sure whether the problem in a given football sequence is the coach's plan or the player's execution. But I think you've got to put it on the coach when he can't even get 11 players on the field for a play as potentially pivotal as a fake punt.

The defensive coordinator has to be fired because he is completely and utterly overmatched by good offenses. The offensive coordinator has to go because rather than stepping up and weighing in publicly with desperately needed negative feedback for his quarterback, he took the weasel route and whined anonymously to a reporter. The main thing Kromer was doing was trying to tell that reporter, and the pro football world at large, that the Bears' struggles are not his fault. Let's remember first and foremost that Kromer's actions in this situation were completely self-serving.

Just to take this to the obvious conclusion: you can't fire both coordinators and the special teams coach and not fire the head coach. That would be brutally ridiculous. And the general manager who hired him ahead of Bruce Arians? Has to go. The team president who hired the general manager? Why on God's green earth would he keep his job?

Then there is the quarterback. Someone said to me the other day that "Jay Cutler is just not a winner. Guys don't play hard for him." In the past, I wouldn't necessarily have agreed with that statement. Plenty of guys are "winners" if their teammates are good enough and there is enough leadership coming from elsewhere.

But after watching Cutler the last two months, maybe he just is a loser. And no matter how good coaches and teammates are, they can't overcome a loser quarterback.

Hey Jay, try harder not to look so relieved as you trot off the field after another pathetic three-and-out, okay? I know you are glad to just get back to the sideline and kick back on the bench but aren't you at least a little angry every once in a while when you fail, and fail, and fail again?

If the Bears just cut Cutler before next season, the guaranteed portion of his salary will count approximately $15.5 million against the cap. I used to say there was no way the Bears could take that hit; no way Cutler wouldn't be the starter at the start of next season as well. With each passing game, that becomes less and less tenable.

And finally, I very much enjoyed Jon Gruden's commentary on ESPN last night. Quite simply, the man did not pull many punches. He found the Bears' stupid, sloppy penalties particularly objectionable but he spread around his criticism and did so with the demeanor of a former Super Bowl champion coach who knows terrible effort and discipline when he sees it.

Then again, he wasn't telling us anything we hadn't seen with our own eyes already.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays, except when he is our man on Tuesdays. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

December 15, 2014

The [Monday] Papers

All your Monday favorites - SportsMonday, The Weekend In Chicago Rock - will appear on Tuesday! It was a busy weekend in the podcast studio. There's gold in there, though.

The Beachwood Radio Network
* The Beachwood Radio Hour #35: Don't Feed The Comptrollers.

The real Judy Baar Topinka. Plus: Worldwide Hate & Rahm vs. the Leftovers.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #29: Bears Remorse.

Coach-killer Cutler kills Kromer. Plus: Professional Baseball Comes To Chicago! And: Blackhawks Bungle.

The War On Christmas
It's real - and the Illinois Republican Party is leading it!

Tonight the Illinois GOP will host a "holiday party," not a Christmas party. Get O'Reilly on the phone!

www.ilgopevents.com.gif

Our very own Tim Willette and I did a little more digging into this abomination and unearthed some more details about tonight's event.

* Open rectal hydration bar, 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

* Dunk tank featuring a black man with his hands up.

* Totally not-gay Christmas carols.

* Egg nog featuring eggs from totally caged chickens.

* Privatized Christmas tree from subsidized farm.

* Ornaments provided by JP Morgan Chase and the Democrats.

* Rahm Emanuel tip jar.

* Raffle! Prizes include Art Laffer's napkin, Mike Ditka's chewing gum, one hour of free fracking, and Comptroller.

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BeachBook
* From Bush To Obama, Eyes Wide Shut.

"On the second day of Barack Obama's presidency, he prohibited most forms of physical torture. On the third, a CIA drone strike he authorized killed up to 11 civilians."

* Why Germany Has It So Much Better Than The U.S.

Hint: High wages.

* CIA's Mistaken Detention Destroyed German Man's Life.

Just one of many.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ajar.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:56 AM | Permalink

December 14, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Hour #35: Don't Feed The Comptrollers!

The truth about Judy Baar Topinka. Plus: Hate Worldwide and Rahm vs. the Leftovers.

Keywords: Cat Stevens, Spock's Brain, Grayson Moorhead Securities, Marcel Pacatte, Rich Miller, Alan Keyes, Slayer, Hogan's Heroes, Ronald Reagan, Joseph Stalin, Peggy Noonan, Torture Report, Barbara Tuchman, John Conroy, Jon Burge, Helstar, Rahm Emanuel, Bob Fioretti, Chuy Garcia, Meg Myers, Chicago.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

:55: Cat Stevens at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

5:25: The K Is Not Silent.

* Welcome, Mike Knezovich!

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #29: Bears Remorse.

Coach-killer Cutler kills Kromer. Plus: Professional Baseball Comes To Chicago! And: Blackhawks Bungle.

6:49: Don't Feed The Comptrollers!

* Wikipedia: "A comptroller (pronounced controller) is a management level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization."

So comptroller is pronounced controller?

* The Controller in "Spock's Brain."

* Illinois Comptroller.

* Michael Madigan Blocking Merger Of Treasurer, Comptroller Offices.

* Judy Baar Topinka Dies Early Wednesday After Stroke.

* Actually, Eric Zorn suggests appointing Tom Cross comptroller.

* Tom Cross, former House Minority Leader, said he was running for state treasurer to "clean up the mess in Springfield."

* Standing Tall for Illinois.

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* The framework for running the state offices of treasurer and comptroller.

* Jane Byrne sucked.

* It's not like Topinka was an awesome public servant; what a kickass treasurer! And her comptrolling? Fuggedaboutit! Her legacy is Alan Keyes, a reluctant and awful run for governor, and her otherwise harmless popularity. In other words, she botched the actual, real and important work handed to her, but was really good at the non-essential.

* Mike's wife, Beth Finke.

* I'm Going To Miss Judy Baar Topinka's Handwritten Notes.

* Aunt Judy.

* Marcel Pacatte's "controversial" Op-Ed about Topinka for Crain's.

* Capitol Fax Blog's Rich Miller calls the truths of Pacatte's piece "bile."

* Too many reporters cover the image, not the person.

37:36: Slayer at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond last Saturday night.

39:04: Hate Worldwide.

* #TortureReport.

* The only detainee named by John Kass in his unapologetic column about American torture was actually a guy we froze to death - and one of many cases of mistaken identities. In other words, an innocent guy we killed. For no reason. Kass didn't mention that part.

* Canadian Town To Be Honored For 9/11 Role.

* Hogan's Heroes Fan Club: The Geneva Convention.

* What Reagan Signed.

* "One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic." - Joe Stalin

* "News numbers."

* Peggy Noonan: "Someone has to be the good guys."

* But don't get me wrong.

* Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly.

* Renewing the draft - Beachwood-style.

* Being The 'Indispensable Nation' Is Killing American Democracy.

* Unspeakable Acts: Torture In Chicago.

* From Justice for John Conroy:

"There are a lot of people out there screaming that Jon Burge is a monster, but I have not portrayed Jon Burge as a monster.'' In a 2005 piece, for example, Conroy dug into Burge's army record from the 1960s that described how the eighteen-year-old recruit went on to become a military policeman in Korea, "gathering five letters of appreciation from superiors that praised his loyalty, devotion to duty, outstanding performance, military bearing, appearance, attention to detail, tact, and extra effort."

In 1968, Burge volunteered for Vietnam. He returned home in 1969 and soon joined the Chicago Police Department. In 1972, Conroy wrote, Burge prevented a twenty-two-year-old woman on the South Side from committing suicide by jamming his thumb into the firing mechanism an instant before she squeezed the trigger.

"I think if you were to look at the press coverage of Jon Burge and look who has written about the heroic things that he did on the job and in Vietnam, I'm pretty much solo,'' Conroy adds. "If someone else did it too, they took it from my coverage.''

1:08:47: Helstar at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge last Saturday night.

1:09:56: Rahm vs. the Leftovers.

* Being tough.

* Next men up.

* The reality of Rahm won't change, but people's perception may. That's what the money is for.

* Rahm: banking on his unlikability.

* Getting things done; in Chicago, the bar is pretty low.

* No separation of powers.

* "Illinois was problematic, because the House Speaker is the chair of the party and also personally owns the list. So for Illinois we had to do it through Durbin. We couldn't use the state party. So really it was a 49-state strategy."

* Michael Madigan only goes out one way: In a box.

1:41:17: Meg Myers at the Aragon last Saturday night.

STOPPAGE: 43:58.

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For archives and more, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:19 PM | Permalink

December 13, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #29: Bears Remorse

Coach-killer Cutler kills Kromer. Plus: Professional Baseball Comes To Chicago! And: Blackhawks Bungle.


SHOW NOTES

* Bryan Bickell.

3:50: Coach Killer Cutler Kills Kromer.

* See Ian Rapoport's original report here.

* "Buyer's remorse" appears to be Rapoport's phrase, not the phrase of Aaron Kromer or anyone else.

* Brad Biggs's report.

* The Bears barely run enough to have bad plays to check out of.

* "The only game the Bears won in 1969 was against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who also finished 1-13," Don Pierson wrote for upon former Bears coach Jim Dooley's death.

"The Steelers then beat the Bears in a coin flip for the draft rights to the No. 1 pick. The Steelers chose Terry Bradshaw, who could have solved their incessant quarterback confusion.

"Dooley's tenure began with journeymen quarterbacks Jack Concannon and Virgil Carter, both of whom subsequently blasted Dooley for mishandling them. By 1971, Dooley was a desperate man who resorted to the desperate measure of moving into Bobby Douglass' bachelor apartment the week before a game in an effort to force-feed Douglass a diet of football knowledge. The plan worked for two games as the Bears climbed to a 6-3 record before collapsing."

* Imrem: Kromer Latest Victim Of Cutler's Wreckage.

* Bad Bears Situation Perversely Makes Jay Cutler Look Good.

* Tomb of the Fallen Offensive Coordinators.

20:40: Professional Baseball Comes To Chicago!

* Is this really happening?

* The White Sox Report: South Side Hope.

* Theo Epstein Left Red Sox In Disarray.

* Cubs executive on draft day.

* Theo Disputes Assertions In Book.

* Steve Rosenbloom: Lester Validates Cubs' Plan.

* The Red Line goes two ways.

* Trying to make this "flip Lester" thing happen.

* The Cubs' real market advantage: It's not smarts.

1:05:10: Blackhawks Bungle.

* Kuc: Keeping Toews On The Ice Was Irresponsible.

* Rangers Player Loses Ear In 1st Period, Has It Reattached With 12 Stitches, Comes Back To Score OT Game Winner.

STOPPAGE TIME: 9:10.

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For archives and more, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

It's not every day you get to say this, but at least you're not Angelina Jolie.

Market Update
Before we spend all that money we'll save merging Treasurer and Comptroller, let's remember what happened the last time Illinois thought about consolidating two major offices.

Shortsighted
Metra would like to implore us all not to be shortsighted. Metra. Imploring us. Not shortsighted. Please.

Hindsighted
So if the Obama presidential library were built in Woodlawn, would Rahm rebuild the Green Line east of Cottage Grove?

Myopic
Here's a better headline: "Plan works; prepare for more plan."

Snowblind
Sure, it's a lot of fuss over an unfinished park, but let's not forget what Richard M. Daley Park was supposed to look like.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Park it.

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Beachwood Photo Booth Holiday Art Sale!
Saturday and Sunday at the Holstein Park fieldhouse.

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The Beachwood Radio Network
* The Beachwood Radio Hour #35: Don't Feed The Comptrollers.

The real Judy Baar Topinka. Plus: Worldwide Hate & Rahm vs. the Leftovers.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #29: Bears Remorse.

Coach-killer Cutler kills Kromer. Plus: Professional Baseball Comes To Chicago! And: Blackhawks Bungle.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg welcome back their favorite bearer of holiday music cheer, collector Andy Cirzan, to share his latest compilation of eclectic and eccentric seasonal tunes. This year, it's a 'Holiday Pop Parade.'"

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: From The Community.

Global City Peep Show: Urban Farming

Producer Matthew Walhquist brings you Chef Rob of the International African American Foundation, who promotes urban farming and gardening to address Chicago's food deserts and build closer-knit communities.

Saturday at 5 p.m. on CAN TV21.

New Encounters: Urban Gardening in Bronzeville

Latrice Williams, Gardening Manager for the Bronzeville Community Garden, explains how the organization addresses the food and job desert in Bronzeville, in this show from Janise Page.

Saturday at 6 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Improv and Do

Tune in and catch a Second City troupe performing the quick, improvised comedy that Chicago is famous for in this program produced by CAN TV production students.

Sunday at 9 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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BeachBook
* Maureen Dowd Promised To Show Her Column To Sony Exec's Husband Before Publication.

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TweetWood

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:28 AM | Permalink

December 12, 2014

The [Friday] Papers

"In coming to a constitutionally valid plan to appoint a new state comptroller to replace Judy Baar Topinka, who died Tuesday, what matters most is to respect the likely preferences of the state's voters - back in November and in a future election," the Sun-Times editorializes.

Do voters care who the comptroller is? Should they?

Better: Do voters know what the comptroller does? Should they?

I'm not even sure most reporters inside the Sun-Times newsroom know. Let's start acting like humans and talk straight. The position of state comptroller is an administrative job that is only filled by election to give political parties a prize - and a test of electoral viability. Let's hire a head-hunting firm to find the best comptroller in the state - private sector or public - and give the job to that person and be done with it. Can we vote on that?

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"As state officials contemplate replacing late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, the clock is running down for those dependent on the checks the office issues," AP reports.

"There are a limited number of checks she approved before her death, raising the specter of a possible funding gap for schools and social service agencies should a successor not be chosen quickly."

And those checks all have 2014 on it, so we better hurry.

Sweet Home
"A Chicago police officer has been disciplined after he admitted playing a song some consider racially offensive during a protest against police violence last weekend, the department announced in a statement Thursday," the Tribune reports.

"The action was taken after a video surfaced apparently showing a Chicago police car blasting the song 'Sweet Home Alabama' by the band Lynyrd Skynyrd during the Saturday protest."

There's no "apparently" about it - the Trib provides the video!

Also, it's a racially offensive song. Why hedge?

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"In the statement, the officer said he was playing the music as a 'fan of the University of Alabama,' which was playing the University of Missouri for the SEC championship and a shot at the NCAA playoffs."

We ran that one by our chief correspondent:


See also:
* Sweet Home Alabama vs. Sweet Home Chicago.

* Existential Rock No. 15.

* Southern Crock & Top Of The Pops.

* Item: Drive-By Trucker.

Bonus:

I've been to Alabama, people, ain't a whole lot to see;
Skynyrd says it's a real sweet home, but it ain't nothing to me.

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That cop knew exactly what he was doing - and so did Skynyrd.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Art Sale!
Buy your favorites this weekend at the Holstein Park fieldhouse.

The White Sox Report: South Side Hope
Had the White Sox bullpen performed at David Robertson's statistical level last year, they would have finished 87-75 instead of a disappointing 73-89. Our very own Roger Wallenstein takes a look.

Fear Of Occupy Wall Street Undermined The Red Cross's Sandy Relief Effort
Too bad; Occupy did a much better job than the Red Cross.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring Cat Stevens.

Oh, and Hang Union, Rich Robinson, Bob Seger, Snot, Skinny Puppy, Sandra Antongiorgi, and Atilla.

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BeachBook
* Joliet Residents Seething Over Plan To Replace Classic Theater's Marquee.

* Behold The Glamorous Shitboxes Of The 1987 Chicago Auto Show.

* U Of C Poaches Two Top Brain Scientists From Oregon.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Thanks for playing.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Art Show

I will be selling my photography (matted and framed prints and photo cards) with 100 other artists at the Bucktown Holiday Art Show this weekend.

Get your Photo Booth favorites or go beyond the Beachwood and explore the rest of my work!

btwon.jpg

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Cat Stevens at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.


Kot: "[R]everentially received."

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Bonus Cat:

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2. The Hang Union at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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3. Rich Robinson at City Winery on Tuesday night.

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4. Bob Seger on the West Side on Thursday night.

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5. Snot at Mojoes in Joliet on Tuesday night.

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6. Skinny Puppy at the Vic on Tuesday night.

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7. Sandra Antongiorgi at Mayne Stage on Wednesday night.

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8. Atilla at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 AM | Permalink

December 11, 2014

Fear Of Occupy Wall Street Undermined The Red Cross's Sandy Relief Effort

In the days after Superstorm Sandy, relief organizations were overwhelmed by the chaos and enormous need. One group quickly emerged as a bright spot. While victims in New York's hardest hit neighborhoods were stuck in the cold and dark, volunteers from the spontaneously formed Occupy Sandy became a widely praised lifeline.

Occupy Sandy was "one of the leading humanitarian groups providing relief to survivors across New York City and New Jersey," as a government-commissioned study put it.

Yet the Red Cross, which was bungling its own aid efforts after the storm, made a decision that further hampered relief: Senior officials told staffers not to work with Occupy Sandy.

Red Cross officials had no concerns about Occupy Sandy's effectiveness. Rather, they were worried about the group's connections to the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.

Three Red Cross responders told ProPublica there was a ban. "We were told not to interact with Occupy," says one. While the Red Cross often didn't know where to send food, Occupy Sandy "had what we didn't: minute-by-minute information," another volunteer says.

The three spoke to ProPublica on the condition of anonymity because they continue to work with the Red Cross. One says the direction came from an official based in Red Cross headquarters in Washington. Another understood the direction came from Washington. A third was not sure who gave the instructions.

The government-sponsored study that praised Occupy Sandy - written in 2013 for the Department of Homeland Security - also cites a prohibition: A Red Cross chief of volunteer coordination recalled that "he was told not to work with Occupy Sandy because of the affiliation with [Occupy Wall Street]," the study says.

Fred Leahy, a veteran Red Cross responder who was a Community Partnerships Manager in Sandy's aftermath, recalled a meeting a week after the storm in which he and two other officials, one from Washington, discussed "the political and donor ramifications of associating with Occupy Sandy due to its outgrowth from Occupy Wall Street." He says the meeting was called after an inquiry from Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern.

"Occupy Wall Street was not very favorably received by the political people in the city," Leahy says. Major Red Cross donors were from the same elite political circles "and they didn't understand Occupy Wall Street."

Red Cross responders says that many staffers and volunteers objected to the charity's stance on Occupy Sandy because among the Red Cross' fundamental principles is that aid must be delivered without regard to politics or ideology. "We are a neutral, humanitarian organization," one staffer says. "We don't take sides."

Leahy says Red Cross officials decided at the meeting to wait for Occupy Sandy representatives to come to them, rather than to approach the group. When a subordinate inquired about working with Occupy, Leahy says he told the person: "We really don't need to worry about them at this time. Because we've got more important concerns at the moment."

Nevertheless, Leahy denied there was a explicit injunction not to work with Occupy Sandy.

The Red Cross said in a statement that "there was never at any time a policy prohibiting Red Cross staff or volunteers from working with Occupy Sandy."

"We linked them with partners," the charity wrote. "We provided them with meals and other supplies - to the point of providing them with an entire warehouse full of material in March 2013."

But Occupy Sandy organizers interviewed by ProPublica say the Red Cross did not take their calls in the early days and weeks after the storm hit in October 2012. Nathan Kleinman, an Occupy Sandy organizer, recalls a Red Cross employee telling him that "they couldn't be seen working with us." He says some Red Cross responders attempted to help Occupy behind the scenes with advice and occasionally supplies.

"I have no doubt we could have had a much more productive relationship with the Red Cross if they'd been willing to associate themselves with us out in the open," Kleinman says. "I have no doubt their failure to look past politics hurt the overall recovery."

Workers inside the Red Cross's Manhattan headquarters say they were furious with the delay, which hampered the ability to provide aid.

Indeed, some Red Cross responders were so troubled, they tried to work with people from Occupy covertly. They say they maintained a spreadsheet of Occupy contacts separate from the other contact lists to hide from senior Red Cross officials that they were working with the group.

Contemporaneous Occupy Sandy meeting minutes show some examples of fruitful cooperation. An Occupy Sandy volunteer described the Red Cross as being "our lifeline in terms of hot meals."

The minutes also record an incident in which two Red Cross employees showed up at an Occupy site in Brooklyn "asking if we could send them volunteers - and their stipulations for that: they couldn't wear any Occupy stuff." Those conditions were rejected.

The Red Cross responders who say there was a clear ban on working with Occupy differ on how long it was in place. One person says the policy was rescinded in a matter of days, but that it took weeks to communicate to all the corners of the Red Cross relief effort.

A third Red Cross worker says that the policy was still in place in December, more than a month into the relief effort.

Read about how the Red Cross botched key elements of its mission after Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac in PR Over People: The Red Cross' Secret Disaster. And about how the Red Cross' CEO has been serially misleading about where donors' dollars are going.

Can you help us with our Red Cross reporting? Learn how to share a tip or e-mail justin@propublica.org.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:18 PM | Permalink

South Side Hope

Let's try this for openers: The White Sox' newly acquired David Robertson, a first-time closer due to the presence of the great Mariano Rivera, shut down the opposition 39 times in 44 save opportunities for the Yankees last year - a success rate of 88.6 percent.

At the risk of dredging up unpleasant memories, White Sox relievers last season were successful 63 percent of the time when it came to nailing down leads in the ninth inning. That's not very good.

Now consider for a moment if the Sox had converted 88 percent of those opportunities. Had that been the case, the Sox would have finished 87-75 instead of a disappointing 73-89. All of which creates a beacon of optimism for the South Side in 2015.

Even the Sox GM of the 1950s, Trader Frank Lane, would be envious of the acumen, perception and cunning of present wheeler-dealer Rick Hahn.

Who would have thought that Chicago baseball would be occupying headlines in December? Coupled with substantial moves coming from the other side of town, there's a buzz so intense that spring training can't come quickly enough.

For a franchise that has experienced a decrease in attendance in each of the last eight seasons, look for the Sox to begin reporting that season ticket sales are on the rise.

Robertson's four-year deal is worth $46 million, and starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, whom the Sox pried loose from the A's a couple of days ago, is slated to make $9.5 million next season before becoming a free agent.

The Sox drew slightly more than 1,650,000 last season. You think they can jack that to 2 million in 2015? That's slightly less than 25,000 a game. If that happens, Samardzija's salary will just about be covered.

But getting back to the baseball side of things, Hahn has said that the Sox' Big Three of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Samardzija stacks up favorably against the top three starters of any team in baseball. Well, maybe.

If that turns out to be the case, the team figures to be competitive approximately 60 percent of the time. Of course, the Big Three won't be effective all the time, but the Little Two, John Danks and Hector Noesi, won 20 games between them last year, so they figure to add to the mix.

December is a safe time for giddiness, so let's note that 60 percent of 162 is 97.

Of course, things didn't quite turn out that way in 2014. Of the five starters for next season, only Sale came close to a success rate of .600 in 2014. He started 26 games, of which the Sox won 15, for a .577 mark. Quintana, the King of No Decisions, started 32 games. The Sox won only 12 of those despite the fact that Quintana had a solid season with an ERA of 3.32 and a respectable WHIP of 1.243.

On the North Side, Samardzija received negligible support during his time with the Cubs. They won only three of his 17 starts, and he departed for Oakland with a 2-7 record despite a 2.83 ERA.

A couple of nights ago, I ran into a good friend, a season ticketholder at Wrigley for the past umpteen years. "I hope you don't mind losing games 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2," he said when I asked him what he thought about the Sox getting Samardzija.

The wind momentarily left my sails, so I checked out how the big right-hander fared in Oakland. He pitched well enough with a 3.14 ERA, but the A's won just half the 16 games Samardzija started, going 5-6. Samardzija must have had nightmares of the North Side after losing 3-2, 2-0 and 4-3 decisions during his brief stint in the Bay Area.

Can it be that guys like Quintana and Samardzija simply are tough luck pitchers? When Samardzija joined the A's, they were 54-33, three-and-a-half games in front of the second-place Angels. After Samardzija joined the team, the A's went 34-41 - and don't forget that Jon Lester, now the ace of the Cubs' staff, became a member of the A's on July 31.

The A's had a massive power outage the last two months of the season, finishing 10 games behind the Angels before losing the wild card game despite leading the Royals 7-3 after six innings - with Lester on the mound. Oakland eventually lost 9-8 when Kansas City scored twice in the bottom of the 12th en route to the World Series.

Don't misunderstand. The Sox are far, far better off now with Samardzija and especially Robertson than they were prior to the winter meetings in San Diego. Please remember that last season's starters in April included Felipe Paulino and Erik Johnson. We all know how that worked out.

Robertson no doubt likes the money and the prospect of playing for a potential contending team, but he also can be thankful that he doesn't have to face the Sox any longer. Two of his blown saves last year came against the Sox - the first on May 23 when Adam Dunn smashed a ninth-inning, walk-off home run, giving the Sox a 6-5 victory and bringing their record at the time to 25-25. It was the last time the Sox were a .500 team. In the second instance, Avisail Garcia hit a ninth-inning solo shot off Robertson at Yankee Stadium on August 24 to tie the game at 4 before the Yankees beat the Sox 7-4 in extra innings.

Meanwhile, the Sox should be relieved they don't have to face Samardzija anytime soon. In 36 innings facing the South Siders, the Shark allowed the Sox just four earned runs for an ERA of 1.00. He was particularly effective at The Cell - good news - with a 0.47 ERA in four games.

Having the likes of Robertson, Samardzija, Adam LaRoche, Zach Duke and left-handed reliever Dan Jennings - the Sox traded Andre Rienzo Thursday afternoon to the Marlins for Jennings - makes the Sox a stronger group going into 2015.

So does the absence of a few bodies.

With LaRoche batting between Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu and Garcia, the team has a left-handed hitter with power who drove in 92 runs last season for Washington. He also makes contact more often than the now-retired Dunn, whose career strikeout mark was eclipsed by only three others in the history of the game. LaRoche also is a very good fielder, so he and Abreu can split duties at DH and in the field. Dunn was marginal at first base. He won't be missed.

Neither will - dare I say? - Paul Konerko, who was used sparingly in 2014. Second baseman Gordon Beckham, a truly talented fielder, never panned out for the Sox and now is a free agent, having been released by the Angels. It will be interesting to see who - if anyone - will offer Beckham work next season. Alejandro De Aza figures to stick with the Orioles, but we won't miss his boneheaded baserunning mistakes. De Aza was a hustler. He played hard. But he wasn't the kind of guy who notably made the Sox a better team.

The Sox may be leaning toward Micah Johnson as their everyday second baseman, although he has yet to appear in a major league game. Before his season was cut short last year due to injury, Johnson hit .275 at Triple-A Charlotte. In three minor league campaigns, he has stolen 125 bases while posting a .297 average. He'll turn 24 next week. If Johnson isn't ready, Carlos Sanchez might be after hitting .250 in 28 games for the Sox last season.

Hahn has apparently turned his attention to left field, where we're still waiting for Dayan Viciedo to live up to his potential. I always thought that Moises Sierra could challenge Viciedo for a regular role, but the Royals claimed Sierra off waivers in October.

Hahn dealt youngsters Chris Bassitt, Josh Phegley, Marcus Semien, and Rangel Ravelo for Samardzija. Right-hander Bassitt could be the biggest loss; he showed promise in five late-season starts in 2014, and his minor league record is stellar. But Billy Beane wouldn't deal someone like Samardzija unless he received talent in return.

Don't forget that last year's top draft choice, Carlos Rodon, just 22 and another left-hander with a wicked slider, is waiting in the wings to join the team either as a starter or out of the bullpen. However, with just 24 innings of professional experience, letting Rodon gain confidence and perfect his craft at Triple-A as the season begins will be a luxury that the Sox now can afford.

What seems clear at this point is that the Sox will be far more interesting than they were the past few campaigns. They're also going to win more games. How many at this point very well depends on how well they play defense and hit in the clutch behind people like Samardzija and Quintana.

Looking back to 2011, the Sox signed Dunn for four years after he tore up the National League, hitting at least 38 home runs in seven different seasons and driving in more than 100 runs on six occasions. The team was coming off an 88-74 season, and many Sox fans figured Dunn would put them in elite company.

Of course, it didn't turn out that way. This time it should be different.

We hope.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:20 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"The Central Intelligence Agency leaked classified material to reporters to shape the perception that its detention and interrogation program was an effective tool in thwarting terrorism, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday," the New York Times reports.

And reporters bit.

Again.

Think of the ramifications of news agencies acting as patsies to the political interests of the national security state - enabling war, torture, extrajudicial presidencies . . .

There is blood on the hands of this nation's media establishment - simply because they are not smart enough or skilled enough to do their job properly, or because they are greedy, vainglorious opportunists willing to pass along fake scoops to advance their careers, or because they see the world through the same prism as those they cover.

The effect is devastating.

Here's Jack Shafer for Reuters in 2013:

Leakers like Snowden, Manning and Ellsberg don't merely risk being called narcissists, traitors or mental cases for having liberated state secrets for public scrutiny. They absolutely guarantee it. In the last two days, the New York Times's David Brooks, Politico's Roger Simon, the Washington Post's Richard Cohen and others have vilified Snowden for revealing the government's aggressive spying on its own citizens, calling him self-indulgent, a loser and a narcissist.

Yet even as the insults pile up and the amateur psychoanalysis intensifies, keep in mind that Snowden's leak has more in common with the standard Washington leak than should make the likes of Brooks, Simon and Cohen comfortable. Without defending Snowden for breaking his vow to safeguard secrets, he's only done in the macro what the national security establishment does in the micro every day of the week to manage, manipulate and influence ongoing policy debates. Keeping the policy leak separate from the heretic leak is crucial to understanding how these stories play out in the press.

Secrets are sacrosanct in Washington until officials find political expediency in either declassifying them or leaking them selectively. It doesn't really matter which modern presidential administration you decide to scrutinize for this behavior, as all of them are guilty. For instance, President George W. Bush's administration declassified or leaked whole barrels of intelligence, raw and otherwise, to convince the public and Congress making war on Iraq was a good idea. Bush himself ordered the release of classified prewar intelligence about Iraq through Vice President Dick Cheney and Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to New York Times reporter Judith Miller in July 2003.

Sometimes the index finger of government has no idea of what the thumb is up to. In 2007, Vice President Cheney went directly to Bush with his complaint about what he considered to be a damaging national security leak in a column by the Washington Post's David Ignatius. "Whoever is leaking information like this to the press is doing a real disservice, Mr. President," Cheney said. Later, Bush's national security adviser paid a visit to Cheney to explain that Bush, um, had authorized him to make the leak to Ignatius.

In 2010, NBC News reporter Michael Isikoff detailed similar secrecy machinations by the Obama administration, which leaked to Bob Woodward "a wealth of eye-popping details from a highly classified briefing" to President-elect Barack Obama two days after the November 2008 election. Among the disclosures to appear in Woodward's book Obama's Wars were, Isikoff wrote, "the code names of previously unknown NSA programs, the existence of a clandestine paramilitary army run by the CIA in Afghanistan, and details of a secret Chinese cyberpenetration of Obama and John McCain campaign computers."

The secrets shared with Woodward were so delicate Obama transition chief John Podesta was barred from attendance at the briefing, which was conducted inside a windowless, secure room known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or "SCIF."

Isikoff asked, quite logically, how the Obama administration could pursue a double standard in which it prosecuted mid-level bureaucrats and military officers for their leaks to the press but allowed administration officials to dispense bigger secrets to Woodward. The best answer Isikoff could find came from John Rizzo, a former CIA general counsel, who surmised that prosecuting leaks to Woodward would be damn-near impossible to prosecute if the president or the CIA director authorized them.

There's more - go read the whole thing and come back. I'll be waiting.

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Back to today's New York Times article:

"The report also said that in 2002, a publication, revealed later on Tuesday to be The New York Times, agreed to withhold information about a secret prison in Thailand at the urging of the agency and Vice President Dick Cheney."

I think we can all agree now that that was a bad call. But maybe a close call. It gets a lot worse.

The details in the report speak to tensions inside the government over the intelligence community's dealings with the media. In some cases, the agency authorized the disclosure of classified information to journalists. Yet, in recent years, the government has investigated reporters and officials, including prosecuting a C.I.A. officer for leaking details of the torture program.

In 2005, an e-mail from staff lawyers for the Counterterrorism Center at the agency "urged that C.I.A. leadership needed to 'confront the inconsistency' between C.I.A. court declarations 'about how critical it is to keep this information secret' and the C.I.A. 'planning to reveal darn near the entire program.' "

The report notes specific instances in which there were divisions within the intelligence community over the agency's decision to leak classified material on its interrogation of alleged members of al-Qaeda, particularly the detainee Abu Zubaydah.

When the agency worked with reporters - like Tom Brokaw, who produced a segment for NBC News, and the author Ronald Kessler for his book The C.I.A. at War - it never filed a "crimes report" over the leaking of classified material, the report notes.

Of course not. If you are a spook shilling for the administration - any administration - Tom Brokaw (and his successor and peers) is your friend.

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Unfortunately, this next example is all-too-common - I've long wanted to FOIA interview requests of Rahm Emanuel (and, previously, Richard M. Daley) from reporters to see how they propose in advance to shape the result to the mayor's liking in order to land a fake exclusive. (Feel free to steal that idea, anyone out there.) You thought the Chicagoland e-mails were bad?

The report says that in 2005 the C.I.A. decided to cooperate with a Times reporter, Douglas Jehl, as he reported on the treatment of Abu Zubaydah. An agency official, who was not named in the report, concluded that Mr. Jehl's article was "not necessarily an unflattering story."

Mr. Jehl, who is now the foreign editor of The Washington Post, "provided the C.I.A. with a detailed outline of his proposed story, informed the C.I.A. that he would emphasize that the C.I.A.'s enhanced interrogation techniques worked," the report said.

Curiously, the Times cuts short what Jehl actually promised, which is far worse, as you can see for yourself here.

The Times then let Jehl off the hook by allowing him to respond with a disingenuous e-mail.

In an e-mail, Mr. Jehl said he had "worked aggressively to pursue and publish stories about the C.I.A.'s harsh interrogation of terrorist suspects, at a time when those details remained highly classified." He is proud of that work, he said, but was not interviewed by the Senate panel "and would never comment on reporting that was based on confidential conversations with current and former U.S. government officials."

Guess what? Jehl was never interviewed by the Times either - nor were his editors.

It also turns out that Jehl's e-mail to the Times was really just a statement put out by the Post's PR department.

And proud of his work? Like I said, they never learn.

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If I'm the editor of the Washington Post, I'm hauling Jehl into my office for a little talk. And most likely firing him.

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Shades of the Tribune Company's Ken Dilanian.

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Back to the Times:

"For his part, Mr. Kessler defended his book and said that he had corroborated what he was told with the F.B.I.

"This report is discredited," he said, adding that it was written only by Democratic lawmakers and did not include interviews with many of the main players.

Does the New York Times read its own paper?

This, by the way, also rebuts the same claim made by the discredited Jose Rodriguez in an Op-Ed published by the Tribune.

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Back to the Times:

The Senate report also highlighted an incident in which the C.I.A. pressured an American newspaper to withhold naming the country that Abu Zubaydah was being held in. The agency was concerned that the report would damage the United States' ability to recruit other countries to host secret prisons.

Is that a good reason to withhold naming the country? The media's job isn't to make sure it doesn't hinder the government's ability to maintain (torturous) secret prisons. In fact, the media's responsibility in that case goes beyond America. So call it a global fail.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The Times, defended the paper's decision to delay publication of the information.

"There have been a handful of occasions when The Times has decided to hold back on publishing a given story after a compelling case had been made that immediate publication could potentially lead to a risk of life or other serious consequence," he said. "The intention is always to publish as soon as we feel we responsibly can, as we did in this case."

In this case, the Times endangered lives - if not enabled actual murder, depending on what happened in that prison.

A Times reporter, James Risen, said Tuesday that the newspaper was The Times, and the country was Thailand.

Sulzberger still wouldn't say? It took Risen to find out?

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James Risen, hero. At least we still have a few in my profession.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Leak selectively.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 PM | Permalink

Doc Of Rages

Jon Stewart or John Kass?

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America Is Awesome.

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America's Got Torture.

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See also: The Trews with Russell Brand: What Should We Think About CIA Torture?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:37 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: The Drugs Begin To Take Hold

Year-End Review
While it was one of the more frustrating seasons in recent memory, it wasn't completely without its highlights.

Let's take a minute to raise our glasses and salute the Chicago Bears for putting in another year of hard work. Here are the top ten moments of the 2014 season.

10. Chris Williams returns a kickoff 101 yards against the Packers in Week 10 to pull the Bears to within 60 in the fourth quarter . . .

. . . huh?

There are three more games?

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuk.

[Walks away from keyboard to get gin]

Meet The Press Pt. 1
Thanks to the Cowboys epic fourth quarter phone-in, the Bears nearly made a game of it in the closing minutes - before remembering that making the playoffs means that you have to work at least an extra two weeks.

Upon reaching this epiphany, Jay Cutler took matters into his own hands and heaved a game-ending pick.

When asked about the team's overall flat performance, Bears head coach Marc Trestman summarily dismissed the notion that his squad had quit on the game, the season, and possibly life in the case of Josh Morgan, who was last seen gazing absently at a barren section of the locker room wall sharpening a barber's blade, while wearing nothing but a jock strap.

"This team competes hard every day to get better, and it competes hard in the football game," Trestman told ESPN.com. "That would be totally disrespecting our football team to think they're not going out and competing as hard as they can."

ESPN Chicago Bears beat reporter Michael C. Wright asked for clarification. "You're saying that the team is competing as hard as they can . . . at football?"

Trestman shifted uncomfortably.

"I mean, well, uh, yeah . . . " muttered the coach as his mind returned to the scene he encountered upon his arrival at Halas Hall last Thursday morning.

"Yeah. They were . . . focused . . . focused on . . . the Cowboys."

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere - Eleven Hours Earlier
Just before 10 a.m. last Thursday, Marc Trestman walked into Halas Hall, a facility which he had departed only five hours ago.

At some point after most of the hookers had split, a heated Pai Gow tournament must have broken out.

A poker table was set up at the 50-yard line of the indoor field.

Three practice squad players and Tim Jennings were passed out in folding chairs that surrounded the table, which was piled high with strange looking dominos, heaps of cocaine and a severed human finger.

A shirtless Lance Briggs lay on his back at the 45 snoring loudly, still clutching what appeared to be most of a pulled pork hoagie. "Christ, I hope that's barbeque sauce," Trestman silently wished as he examined the sticky maroon substance splattered across the linebacker's bare chest.

The scene continued like this for another 25 yards.

Kyle Long had pulled a mattress onto the field and was sleeping peacefully next to it wearing only one sock.

There was a strong possibility that the floozy clad only in a tube top had pushed him off it during the early morning hours.

David Bass could be found curled up on one of the sideline benches under a newspaper blanket, a cigarette with four inches of ash still hanging from his mouth.

Jimmy Clausen was sleepwalking; repeatedly muttering "Send your answer to Old Pink" while repeatedly bumping face first into the wall.

Stephen Paea was reading a book. "Hi coach!" he waived exuberantly as Trestman approached him.

"Good morning, Paea," said the coach. "You seem ready for the day." Trestman removed his Bears cap and scratched his head, visibly perplexed by this anomaly.

"Sure am coach! I'm glad to see you made it home safe last night!" The defensive end was incredibly upbeat.

"Thank you for the kind thoughts, but I slept in the car. There was no way I could drive. What did we finish . . . " Trestman began counting on his fingers. "Like, three handles of Captain Morgan apiece? Cindy would have tanned my hide if I rolled in stinking of rum and covered in glitter." He shook his head briefly and turned his attention back to Paea. "Did you, um, turn in earlier than the rest of us?"

"No sir! Been ready for kickoff all night!" Paea stood up abruptly and saluted; an eight-ball worth of cocaine spilled from inside the book.

"Ah," said the coach as this too snapped into place. "Carry on, son."

Trestman made his way into the coach's offices and encountered coordinators Aaron Kromer and Mel Tucker playing Xbox. Both had a plate of stale nachos on their lap.

"Um, guys . . . "

Both coordinators continued to stare vacantly at their co-op game.

"GUYS!"

Startled, both men hurriedly looked up from the game, nachos spilling everywhere.

"BURP!" said Kromer, a sliced jalapeno projectile emerging from his mouth.

"Yeah. Good morning to you too, Aaron." Trestman removed his cap and scratched his again. "How's that game plan coming?"

After rummaging around on his person for 10 seconds, Kromer produced a crumpled piece of buck slip paper from one of the leg pockets his cargo and presented it to the head coach.

"This looks like it's about a quarter finished," said Trestman after glancing over the chicken scratch.

"That's true coach," said Kromer. "But I figure it's good for at least 28 points - which ought to be more than enough for most teams to win."

Tucker, the team's Defensive Coordinator, rolled his eyes.

"Screw you, man," he said, averting eye contact with Trestman.

"Easy guys, we're a team here. Mel, I'm sure you've got something for me. Give me the good news."

Continuing to look away, Tucker slowly raised a middle finger in Trestman's face and held it there.

"Business as usual, huh buddy?" said Trestman in a deadpan tone.

Tucker's finger did not move.

"Alright then. Thanks guys, see you on the field tonight. I'm going to see if Paea will cut me in."

Meet The Press Pt. 2
Trestman realized he had trailed off with a microphone in his face.

"Totally focused," he said, finishing his thought.

NFC Southbound And Down
Holy crap, this is an unprecedented match-up of underachievers.

Bringing a combined 10 wins to the table, the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints clash (read: haphazardly drool in each other's general direction) at the lakefront on Monday night, which leaves SOOOOOOO much time to ponder what a colossal turd this season has turned into.

Of course, Saints fans can offer some pain of their own.

While the Bears were expected to compete for the wild card, the Saints were expected to run away with the dirty/lazy/horrible South.

Expectations can certainly cap the highs and accentuate the lows. Here are some of the most notable low points from the Saints this year.

  • Usually a masterful motivator, the 2014 pre-game chant's refrain of "suck cock like a champion*" not only confuses even Drew Brees's most open-minded teammates, but strikes his gay teammates as unnecessarily crass.
  • Several members of the Saints starting offense print out inaccurate Mapquest directions and wait patiently at the "Colonel Ricki's Super Fun Dome" for three hours, causing them to miss most of the embarrassing Week 14 home loss to the Panthers at the Superdome.
  • A Jimmy Graham touchdown celebration goes horribly wrong and Saints mascot Gumbo D. Dog is neutered.

Kool-Aid (2 of 5 - Bombay Sapphire Martini Straight Up With Blue Cheese Olives)
It's going to be tough to make things interesting from here on out, even with a mighty assist from our old friend Alcohol, but I've got some ideas.

My plan for this week is to dress up like Elvis Costello circa 2011, including prescription glasses.

Then I'm going to chain smoke American Spirits in one hand and drink a martini in the other while bumping into shit all around my house.

Hey boss, get ready for a super productive Tuesday out of the C-man.

I honestly don't think the Bears are going to totally fold, but I also think we can officially declare after 13 games of ineptitude that "stuck in second gear" is the nicest assessment we can come up with for this team.

The Saints indeed suck, but they've got something to play for, and other than performance bonuses and the side bets of the super wealthy, our Bears do not.

Saints 27, Bears 24

* Even if we hired the NCAA to define the seeding, I would still watch that tournament.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:29 AM | Permalink

December 10, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday issued a sweeping indictment of the Central Intelligence Agency's program to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, drawing on millions of internal C.I.A. documents to illuminate practices that it said were more brutal - and far less effective - than the agency acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public," the New York Times reports.

"The long-delayed report delivers a withering judgment on one of the most controversial tactics of a twilight war waged over a dozen years. The Senate committee's investigation, born of what its chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, said was a need to reckon with the excesses of this war, found that C.I.A. officials routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained, and failed to provide basic oversight of the secret prisons it established around the world."

John Kass is not impressed.

"Detainees were shackled, sometimes hooded, and 'dragged up and down corridors while beings slapped and punched,' according to the committee," he writes. "One Afghan militant, a man named Gul Rahman, died of hypothermia in the pit after he was beaten, stripped naked and left chained to a concrete floor. There were many other details, but the gist of it has been known for years."

Really? Did you know this, John?

Not only that, but Rahman was another case of mistaken identity:

*


"Some members of the committee were critical of the release of the report, saying it would incite emotions and put Americans at risk," Kass continues.

"We've known all this stuff for years," Sen. Dan Coats, the Indiana Republican and member of the committee, told me in an interview Tuesday on my WLS-AM radio program. "It's been discussed on every news show, by every newspaper, by so many journalists. But the real question is: Why now?

If "this stuff" has been known for years - on every news show, by every newspaper, by so many journalists (oh, if only) - then why would there be any danger by releasing a report of it?

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And if Coats and Kass don't know the answer to the "real" question - Why now? - then neither has been doing their job of paying attention. It's not as if the report is being rushed out the door; it's been in the making for nearly six years. The Senate finished its draft two years ago.

I'll let ProPublica answer:

"What took so long? It's a tale of White House indecisiveness, Republican opposition, and CIA snooping."

And that's being kind.

It's a really a tale of tyranny, shame and lawlessness.

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So Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis distrusts government because it operates beyond the rule of law? Which exists only because of government.

I don't get it.

But according to Kass, we already knew whatever it is Stantis is talking about.

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The Tribune editorial page pulls off a neat trick by opening its reflection on the Torture Report with a reminder of the moment after 9/11:

"America's national security network launched an urgent mission to find and interrogate terror suspects as quickly as possible. We have known that prisoners were brutally interrogated, that some died in captivity. We have known that Justice Department officials scrambled to set some of the rules for that interrogation. CIA officials have long maintained that under brutal techniques, suspects gave up vital information that led to the capture of terrorists and disruption of their plans."

The rules of such interrogations were already in place. The CIA ignored them and Justice Department lawyers invented laughable legal theories to give them cover. And the report makes crystal clear that not a single instance in which the CIA says "brutal techniques" - also known as "torture" - yielded not just vital information but information of any value at all is so; torture was a total whiff.

But watch what the Tribune does next:

"In the relative calm 13 years since, 13 years without a major terror attack on U.S. soil, we're now learning more about what the CIA did in the aftermath of Sept. 11."

See, they want you to believe that the "relative calm" of the past 13 years is somehow due to CIA torture. We had 9/11, we tortured, we've had 13 years of calm. Nothing to see here!

And about how we're now learning more about what the CIA did after 9/11? The Trib goes on to catalog how we already knew all of this, which is always one of the last refuges of the defensive side of an argument.

"Recall that leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence committees of both parties were briefed repeatedly on the techniques over the years," the Trib writes.

"In 2002, four members of Congress met in secret and were 'given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk,' The Washington Post reported in 2007. Among the techniques described was waterboarding. No objections were heard. 'Instead, at least two lawmakers asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said,' the Post reported. 'The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough,' said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.'"

Yes, the leaders of the intelligence committees were briefed. Yes, four members of Congress met in secret. Four. In secret. And two anonymously asked the CIA to push harder. According to an anonymous U.S. official.

That's the point of releasing this report: To inform the last ones to know, the American people.

The Trib finishes with its non-apology - and warning that we just might do it again. Justifiably!

"We're still learning about the frenzied effort to protect our citizens in those chaotic and petrifying days after the worst terrorist assault in U.S. history. We've changed what we consider permissible as a response to gather the intelligence needed to protect the nation. Though if, when, there is another attack of such horrifying magnitude, it's unlikely the U.S. response will go neatly according to plan. It will be in real time, not in hindsight."

In other words, the next time we go to war to protect the values our enemies hate, we'll be quite prepared to trash those values to, um, protect them.

Oh, and also, this is all just in hindsight, which is really unfair. But don't question our methods in real time - that only helps our enemies.

In other words, shut up.

*

What America did post-9/11 wasn't just less than neat, in the fog of war. It was the deeply thought out and intellectualized installation of a brutal worldwide torture regime that flourished through fear transmitted through the media - a classic historical construct.

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From Human Rights Watch: USA and Torture: A History of Hypocrisy.

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Compare the Tribune's editorial with that of the Detroit Free Press:

"In the hectic days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with the backing of our allies and the goodwill of many of our historic adversaries, this nation could have embarked on a radically different path. We could have forged new alliances, showed that even in our darkest days, the world should follow where America led. President Bush chose a different path. He launched a shoddy war on the flimsiest of excuses, the intelligence that supposedly justified his assault later proved false. He chose to either ignore what even a casual observer should have known was happening, or authorized a rogue intelligence agency over which he had no control.

"The report found that the CIA routinely lied to Congress and to Bush administration officials about the quality of information obtained through torture and the severity of its tactics; the agency acknowledges it made mistakes but says it never willfully misled. These distinctions are immaterial, incremental gradations of blame that do not dilute our shame.

"Because that is what this report is: A national shame. A chronicle of brutality that should shock even the most hardened reader. To defend the actions of CIA interrogators is impossible. Detainees were forced to stand on broken feet. Raped. Drowned. Subjected to extreme heat and cold, in at least one instance, fatally - all while Bush described the CIA's interrogation methods as 'humane and legal.' All in pursuit of information that never materialized, because it is generally acknowledged that torture does not produce reliable intelligence.

"We did this. So don't look away - from the report, or from the acts of contrition it demands."

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The Tribune also saw fit to publish an Op-Ed from former CIA official Jose Rodriguez.

Here's a little something you should know about Rodriguez.

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Nothing new?

The New York Times's key takeaways say otherwise. It's not even close.

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Says the Times in its editorial:

"The world has long known that the United States government illegally detained and tortured prisoners after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and lied about it to Congress and the world. But the summary of a report released Tuesday of the Senate investigation of these operations, even after being sanitized by the Central Intelligence Agency itself, is a portrait of depravity that is hard to comprehend and even harder to stomach."

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The Tortured History Of The Senate's Torture Report
The report they didn't want you to see.

The Trews: What Should We Think About CIA Torture?
Russell Brand explains it all.

Unspeakable Acts: Torture In Chicago
Indicting a city.

@BeachwoodReport
More torture report commentary on our Twitter feed.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Crystal clarity.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:56 AM | Permalink

Unspeakable Acts: Torture In Chicago

"How is it that otherwise normal people can become part of the institutionalized practice of torture?" Publisher's Weekly once asked.

"That's the question driving this unusual, extremely well-reported book. At the Chicago Reader, [John] Conroy spent years reporting on the kind of torture that happens not in exotic locales but in his own backyard - in Chicago's police precincts."

Curious and troubled by what he found, he decided to explore the ordinariness of brutality through three separate incidents of torture - in Israel, Ireland and Chicago.

He investigates the "five torture techniques" (hooding, noise bombardment, food deprivation, sleep deprivation and forced standing against a wall) inflicted on 12 Irish prisoners in 1971; a late 1980s round-up on the West Bank of Palestinians, who were bound, gagged and beaten; and Chicago's notorious Jon Burge case, in which police officers systematically beat and electrocuted (on the head, chest and genitals) a man suspected (and later convicted) of killing a police officer.

In all three cases, although the torture was well documented, little or no punishment was handed down.

From Conroy's website:

"John's coverage of the scandal ultimately helped to gain pardons for four men who had been sentenced to death and helped free another man who had been wrongfully imprisoned for 26 years. The four who were pardoned sued the city of Chicago, alleging that they had been tortured into confessing to murders they had not committed, and in early 2008, the city settled their suits for $19.8 million. In the wake of the settlement, the New York Times quoted the mother of one of the victims saying she thought her son would be dead but for Conroy's articles."

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Police Torture In Chicago: The John Conroy Archive.

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"John Conroy spent 15 years writing investigative news articles about one of the darkest chapters of this city's Police Department, the allegations that some officers on the South Side regularly resorted to suffocation, electric shock and mock Russian roulette in the 1970s and '80s to obtain confessions from suspects," Patrick Healy wrote for the New York Times in 2010.

"But for all of the official inquiries and overturned convictions that resulted - a special state prosecutors' report in 2006 supported the accusations of scores of inmates, and the city paid out $20 million in settlements in a case that continues to reverberate today - Mr. Conroy never believed that the people of Chicago were truly outraged by the front-page headlines about police torture.

"And so, in the tradition of history and morality plays like A Man for All Seasons and last year's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Ruined, Mr. Conroy turned to theater as a means of provocation and catharsis.

"'I wanted to indict the whole city of Chicago,' Mr. Conroy said of his first outing as a playwright, the two-act My Kind of Town."

*

Justice For John Conroy.

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Torture, Bystanders and the Failure of Journalism.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:03 AM | Permalink

The Tortured History Of The Senate's Torture Report

"The Senate began investigating the CIA's detainee program nearly six years ago. It completed a draft of its report two years ago. On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee finally released the report's blistering executive summary. (The full report remains classified.) What took so long? It's a tale of White House indecisiveness, Republican opposition, and CIA snooping."

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Previously:
* The New York Times Finally Admits We Tortured Some Folks.

* The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You May Never See.

* Obama Administration Proves Why We Need Someone To Leak The CIA Torture Report.

And:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:23 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Johnny Fantasy Football

It's been a strange season in fantasy football land, with almost nothing going anywhere near as expected. It's been a season many of us would like to write off, but, wouldn't you know it, the Week 15 slate will feature one of the biggest must-see games for anyone still in the fantasy playoffs or planning to play fantasy football next year.

Johnny Manziel is set to start for the waning Browns this week against the Bengals. If Mr. Football is no longer available in your league, it's probably because someone looking for a playoff punch or a keeper for next season has already snatched him up. If he is still available and manages to score anywhere north of the 13-14 fantasy points he's projected for, he very well could factor into some fantasy league championship games next week.

Meanwhile, for the most part, the fantasy football season is just about over, so here's my parting shot:

Let's start the debate about who should be fantasy football's MVP for 2014: You can make a great argument for Aaron Rodgers, who in reality probably deserves the NFL MVP award, with 35 passing TDs and just three INTs.

You could also easily vote for DeMarco Murray, who turned out to be an unexpectedly outstanding workhorse in a year when there was no longer thought to be any such thing left at the RB position. Murray has surpassed 100 rushing yards in 11 of his 13 games, and has a good chance for 2,000 yards this season.

But what about Andrew Luck? In standard fantasy leagues, he has more total points than the other two choices. With 4,305 yards, he should clear 5,000 over the three remaining games. With 10 games with at least 300 passing yards (six with at least 370 yards and one with 400) and seven games with at least three pass TDs (four games with at least four, including one with five), Luck probably has won more fantasy weeks for his owners than any other player, with the possible exception of Murray.

I'll take Luck. I might even pick him when it comes to ranking the top fantasy QBs for next season's drafts, though Rodgers is likely to be No. 1 on many lists. But, that's a debate for next summer.

Thanks for reading our last Fantasy Fix football post for 2014. I'll be taking a few weeks off, but I'll be back next month to think some warm thoughts in deep winter about the 2015 fantasy baseball slate. January may seem early to think about fantasy baseball, but it's never too early to start wondering in which round you should draft Kris Bryant. Happy Holidays!

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:33 AM | Permalink

The Trews: What Should We Think About CIA Torture?

Trews theme by The Rubberbandits.


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See also: Russell Brand's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

December 9, 2014

SportsMondayTuesday: If Only Kirk Hinrich Couldn't Breathe

What would've really made a difference would have been Kirk Hinrich warming up in the "I Can't Breathe" t-shirt.

As veteran center Joakim Noah recently reminded us, Hinrich grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, which is about as pale as the Bulls' veteran guard.

The 2010 census recorded that 80.6 percent of the population (a little more than 84,000) is Caucasian and less than three percent is African American. That is down from 85.2 percent white in 2000, so I suppose things are trending in a slightly positive direction if you believe in the whole "America has been as remarkable as it is because it is a melting pot" thing, as I do.

Noah brought up Hinrich's western-border-of-Iowa hometown (right across the Missouri River from Nebraska and South Dakota by the way) when he was talking about the Bulls bouncing back to beat the Charlotte Hornets last week. The team did so a day after a tough loss to Dallas in which Hinrich committed an incredibly boneheaded foul at an especially brutal time. I hadn't heard the Bulls center bust out the hometown nickname prior to that, but I would imagine he does it relatively frequently.

The main thing is, Hinrich is a white guy from Middle America. And when I say Middle America, I mean his home town is not far from the actual geographic middle of the continental portion of the country. And a prominent white guy from where Hinrich is from is the one who would have made a huge statement in the aftermath of the travesty on Staten Island had he been the first (or maybe tied for first with Rose wearing one as well) to prominently don the t-shirt in the sports world.

My primary response to Derrick Rose displaying the "I Can't Breathe" t-shirt was a shrug. The gesture immediately became a big deal to many but only because the bar is so low for athletes in America (it wasn't like Rose was actually sacrificing something for the cause). And it probably should be low. These guys aren't prominent for their intellectualism. We need our smartest people working on issues like the persistent racial divide in this country and we need to focus on getting their ideas for ameliorating the problem ("solutions" aren't on the horizon just yet) into the political realm.

Still, for a long time after Michael Jordan's "Republicans buy shoes too" remark during his playing career, it has seemed as though prominent athletes in America took avoiding controversial comments addressing issues outside the world of sports to a different level. Certainly no one picked up the mantle from Muhammad Ali as he receded from the public eye in the 80s. And Jordan made the ultimate statement about his determination to put material concerns (selling more shoes) ahead of all other considerations.

Anyway, in the aftermath of African-American Eric Garner's death at the hand of a Caucasian police officer and the failure of the American judicial system to hold the offender criminally accountable, people from all walks of life in this country have the opportunity to join the protest.

On Monday night, several other prominent African-American athletes donned shirts that said "I Can't Breathe." But the historic moment has passed. People don't remember the second African American to sit at the front of the bus. The first, Rosa Parks, sat alone and faced the consequences of her actions alone.

We're still looking for that moment when a team of citizens like Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich make a pivotal, meaningful, resonant statement together.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays, except when he's our man on Tuesdays due to unforeseen circumstances. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:51 AM | Permalink

December 8, 2014

The Entirely Worthy Ferguson Sketch SNL Decided It Didn't Have Time To Air

Rise and smile.


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And the much less funny, even unfunny, open. The problem is that the target is Al Sharpton, which is cheap and easy. Yes, the sketch observes the open-and-shut nature of the case ignored by the Staten Island grand jury, but almost as an aside.

Now, it's true that the Garner case might have made the Ferguson open stale, but I'm sure a workaround could have been in order.

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Maybe hire some writers from The Onion, who produced these:

* Police Officer Demonstrates Proper Technique For Subduing Grand Jury.

* Overworked Prosecutor Of Taking Police Brutality Case As A Little Vacation.

* Obama Calls For Turret-Mounted Cameras On All Police Tanks.

* Chokehold Ruling Puts Police Body Camera Plan In Doubt.

"I've always believed that the best way to build trust is through constant surveillance."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Slayer at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond on Saturday night.


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2. Helstar at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge on Saturday night.

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3. Meg Myers at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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4. Yelawolf at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

Chicagoist: "With the help of a live guitarist, his songs, new and old, had more body to them than ever before."

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5. Wrath at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge on Saturday night.

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6. Architects at the Concord on Saturday night.

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7. Cokskar at Mousetrap on Sunday night.

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8. Wilco at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.

Gendron: Wilco Begins Six-Night Stand With Loose, Upbeat Set.

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9. The Cowsills at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Friday night.

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10. Matthew and Gunnar Nelson at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Friday night.

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11. Paolo Nutini at Reggies on Saturday night.

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12. Jessica Lea Mayfield at Schubas on Friday night.

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13. Story of the Year at Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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14. RL Grime at the Concord on Saturday night.

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15. Netsky at the Concord on Saturday night.

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16. Hailey Steele at SPACE in Evanston on Friday night.

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17. Vance Joy at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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18. Kongos at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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19. Griffin House at City Winery on Sunday night.

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20. Curren$y at Mojoes in Joliet on Thursday night.

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21. Sturgill Simpson at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:30 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

I'm a bit consumed with the CIA torture report, among other things, so The Papers will return on Wednesday.

Plus, this was a lot of work. Check out the Show Notes. You can just enjoy those, or follow along with the whole program, or just forward to the segment you want to hear.

Also, our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman comes through with a unique insight on Derrick Rose's t-shirt in If Only Kirk Hinrich Couldn't Breathe.

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The Ferguson Sketch SNL Didn't Air
Chose the wrong open, y'all.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Slayer, Helstar, Meg Myers, Yelawolf, Wrath, Architects, Cokskar, Wilco, The Cowsills, Matthew And Gunnar Nelson, Paolo Nutini, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Story of the Year, RL Grime, Netsky, Hailey Steele, Vance Joy, KONGOS, Griffin House, Curren$y, and Sturgill Simpson.

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BeachBook
* Andrew Ross Sorkin's Sources Are His Sponsors.

* The Ad Rahm Emanuel Doesn't Want You To See.

* Illinois Atheists Countering Nativity Scenes.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Unzipped.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:20 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #34: John Kass Can Breathe.

That's easy. But thinking is hard. Plus: Rahm's Kinky Campaign Kickoff; The Worst Reporter In Chicago; The Illusory Raise In Chicago's Minimum Wage; Who Polices The Chicago Police? The Chicago Police.

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BeachBook
* Harkin: Obamacare Sucks; Dems Blew It.

* How Is The NDAA Like Chicago's Parking Meter Lease?

* State Dept. Flak Caught On Hot Mic Admitting What She Just Said Was Ridiculous.

* Pentagon In Denial About Civilian Casualties In Iraq, Syria.

* Will Chicagoans Pay $7 For Starbucks?

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Breathable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #34: John Kass Can Breathe

That's easy. But thinking is hard. Plus: Rahm's Kinky Campaign Kickoff; The Worst Reporter In Chicago; The Illusory Raise In Chicago's Minimum Wage; Who Polices The Chicago Police? The Chicago Police.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

:54: St. Vincent at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

* The Week In Chicago Rock.

* The Thanksgiving Week/Weekend In Chicago Rock.

2:14: John Kass Can Breathe.

6:04: Mean Jeans at Livewire on Wednesday, November 26.

7:30: John Kass Explains Race To America.

* The only time the fix isn't in is when a grand jury isn't indicting a white cop for shooting a black kid.

* In Chicago, the moral arc of the universe bends toward injustice.

* Mary Mitchell: In Fatal Incidents, Black Officers Don't Receive The Same Benefit Of The Doubt.

* Isn't Kass playing the race card every time he invokes Al Sharpton?

* Kass columns on John Wrana.

* Article 99.

* Ray Liotta! A young Ray Liotta.

* Darren Wilson's testimony.

* Michael Brown's hands were up.

* Witness No. 10.

* Thinking is hard, screaming is easy.

* Kass: It's about taxes, not an illegal chokehold.

* NY Daily News Study: Broken Windows Policing Is Racist.

* Broken windows policing does not work.

* Rand Paul Blames Eric Garner's Death On Cigarette Taxes.

* All About Al.

* The Outrage Is In Your Face. Also here at 52:10.

* Repeat after me: There is no such thing as black-on-black crime. Race is not a motive. What you are describing is poor-on-poor crime. It's about proximity - and vulnerability. It would be nice if poor black criminals got on the bus and robbed people on Michigan Avenue, but that street is loaded with cops. Plus, the bus.

* Um, there are marches against violence in Chicago almost every week.

* Neil Steinberg explains race.

Because white people are the ones with the problem.

* Chris Rock explains it all.

27:52: Song of the Moment: Fight The Power.

30:31: Kass vs. George W. Bush.

* Condi explains it all.

* We had a president who had to have this explained to him.

See also:

* Don Wycliff: A Police War On Black Men?

* Steve Chapman: Are Blacks To Blame For Cops' Actions?

* Tribune editorial: Why Killings By Police Cause Public Suspicion.

* ProPublica: Deadly Force, In Black And White.

33:34: The Lemons at Livewire on the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.

34:32: Drewrys. That's good Drewrys.

* New! Gay!

* Crain's: Drewrys Beer Returns.

34:52: Rahm's Kinky Campaign Kickoff.

* William Dawson, not Dawes. William Dawes was one of the dudes who warned that the British were coming. I don't know how I got that in my head.

* William Dawson's black submachine.

* Cinespace movie studio vs. Woodlawn health clinic.

* Media needs a strategy.

* What would account for a change in polls toward Rahm? Reality remains the same.

* Chicago for some, not all.

* Fioretti is Italian and Polish.

51:29: The Gizmos at the Empty Bottle on the Saturday night of Thanksgiving week.

53:21: The Worst Reporter In Chicago.

* Follow along here.

1:13:58: Death To All at the Metro on Tuesday night of Thanksgiving week.

1:14:47: The Illusory Raise In Chicago's Minimum Wage.

* Follow along here.

* Rahm moves Chicago forward into 1966.

* Rahm: "Washington wouldn't do it. Springfield couldn't do it. But here in Chicago, we did it."

That's because Washington and Springfield have two-party systems.

Which reminds me, where was Rahm when he was Obama's chief of staff and the Democrats controlled Congress?

* Rahm's Evolving Position On The Minimum Wage.

* "After 2019, yearly increases would be pegged to the local consumer price index, with a limit of 2.5 percent, if the unemployment rate stays below 8.5 percent." This needs to be examined more closely. Why not do the same for aldermen?

1:22:15: Who Polices The Chicago Police? The Chicago Police.

* The [Friday] Papers.

* The case of Cmdr. Glenn Evans.

* Progress is when cops get less crazy.

1:33:06: Wiz Khalifa at the House of Blues on Monday night of thanksgiving week.

STOPPAGE: 35:08

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For archives and more, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:13 AM | Permalink

December 6, 2014

The Weekend Desk Report

Seems like there should be a wealth of punchlines here, but it's just not funny when someone can't breathe.

Market Update
Pretty safe bet that Bruce Rauner's shocked face will be getting another work out soon.

CPS Ratings!
Hey, CPS is finally ready to release the school rankings that fit its carefully constructed narrative. Let's see how they did.

CPS Math!

  • Level 1+1 = 54% of district-run schools are now awesome!
  • Level 2+2 = 40% of district-run schools are now, you know, pretty much OK!
  • Level 3 - [Level 1+1] - [Level 2+2] = well, nothing really

CPS Geography!
In which Altgeld Gardens is transformed from a Far South Side public housing development to the front line of a culture war that's been lost already.

CPS English!
Basically, just a million different ways to say "fuck you."

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Show your work.

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The Beachwood Radio Hour #34
Is in production!

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #28: Deja Bears
Team has an identity after all. Plus: The Bulls Make The Regular Season Like Lovin' - Fun; Blackhawks Are Like Carlos Santana With Rob Thomas - So Smooth; Adam, Ricky and the Duke; and Cubs Get Their Man!

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The College Football Report: A Color-Coded Pile Of Kernels
This is where we miss the BCS and the cold-hearted algorithms of the BCS HAL 9000.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: The end of the year is nigh! Jim and Greg look back at the Best Albums of 2014 and hear some picks from listeners.

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: 33rd Annual Union Hall of Honor Awards.

"Labor leaders including Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president, honor the latest inductees to the Illinois Labor History Society's Union Hall of Honor."

Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Africa Or America?
Play along!

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TweetWood

*

Come to think of it, that's exactly what it was.

*

*

Posted by Natasha Julius at 12:21 PM | Permalink

December 5, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #28: Deja Bears

Team has an identity after all. Plus: The Bulls Make The Regular Season Like Lovin' - Fun; Blackhawks Are Like Carlos Santana With Rob Thomas - So Smooth; Adam, Ricky and the Duke; and Cubs Get Their Man!


SHOW NOTES

* Daniel Carcillo's number is 13.

* Even the Coach isn't watching.

* That onside kick.

2:08: The Bears Do Have An Identity.

* They play the same game every week.

* The question isn't who are they, it's why are they who they are.

* Odds are weird.

* Marc Trestman's one-season stand.

* On NFL Head Coaches Calling The Plays.

* George McCaskey's last stand.

* Jay is our quarterback.

* That photo.

22:40: The Bulls Make The Regular Season Like Lovin' - Fun.

* Bulls and Blackhawks both championship contenders.

* To live and die with Kirk Hinrich.

* Thibs makes Must-See TV.

29:55: Blackhawks Are Like Carlos Santana With Rob Thomas - So Smooth.

* Corey Crawford Is Out A Few Weeks Because He Fell At A Concert.

* Post-Circus Trap.

* Steeger. Steegy.

* Stan "The Man" Bowman.

* Cap and gown.

39:13: Adam, Ricky and the Duke.

* LaRoche, Hahn and Zach.

* Abreu, Abreu . . . walk like an Egyptian.

* White Sox not done yet.

45:27: Cubs Get Their Man!

* Davey Martinez grabs some bench.

* Ryan Dempster, special assistant to the clown car.

* Lester or bust.

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For archives and more, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:51 PM | Permalink

The College Football Report: A Color-Coded Pile Of Kernels

This is it, people, the last weekend of the regular season. (Well, not really. The last weekend - Week 16 - is actually next weekend for the Army-Navy game, possibly the best tradition for closing out a year in any sport.) After all the jockeying, polls, rankings, and blather expended on same, we get to see how the playoff spots shake out. We will get answers to questions such as: Does Florida State merit a playoff berth just because they've gone undefeated? Will Ohio State have an opportunity to embarrass themselves on a national stage (again)? Will the Committee ignore a head-to-head victory in favor of the "eye test?" What does eye test mean? Does it have anything to do with tiny lines of blurry letters? Did Ohio State clone Braxton Miller in the offseason? How many yards does Melvin Gordon need to lock up the Heisman? And finally, how badly do we miss the BCS HAL 9000?

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Friday 8 p.m.

Pac-12 Championship Game

#7 Arizona (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) vs. #2 Oregon (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) Friday , 8 p.m.

Line: Oregon -15.5

The Wildcats earned a spot in the conference championship game last weekend by beating rival Arizona State, with help from UCLA's loss to Stanford. (We inadvertently omitted the 'Zona-ASU matchup from our rundown of rivalry games. The two play for the Territorial Cup, possibly the most pedestrian name of any traditional match-up. Once called the Duel in the Desert, the game was Nerfed in 2009 when State Farm picked up the sponsorship.)

With a 3-2 record against ranked teams, including a win over Oregon, a win by Arizona forces the conversation about expanding the playoff field to eight. The Wildcats' schedule bears only two blemishes: A close loss to #25 USC and an L to #22 UCLA. Should Arizona win, the entire college football world should turn to the Playoff Committee to say, "Well, so much for your system. But you shouldn't feel too bad. The four-team selection process had a good run. One whole season, after all, that's about what we should expect for a half-baked compromise bound to leave nearly everyone dissatisfied. Nice job."

Our pick: The Wildcats and the points. How do you not back Arizona in this game? The Vegas action supports the move: Nearly two-thirds (62%) of the action on the point spread is riding on the 'dogs.

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Saturday's Big-12 Games

Iowa State (2-9, 0-8 Big 12) vs. #3 TCU (10-1, 7-1 Big 12), 11 a.m.

Line: TCU -34.5

Oklahoma State (5-6, 3-5 Big 12) vs. #20 Oklahoma (8-3, 5-3 Big 12), 2:30 p.m.

Line: Oklahoma -21

#9 Kansas State (9-2, 7-1 Big 12) vs. #6 Baylor (10-1, 7-1 Big 12), 6:45 p.m.

Line: Baylor -8

The lack of a championship game in the Big 12 adds an extra layer of goofiness to the frantic reshuffling bound to happen in the final Playoff rankings. Wins by TCU and Baylor would result in a split conference championship and put the Committee in an impossible quandary. With a head-to-head win over TCU and a win over a Top 10 opponent in the final weekend, Baylor almost without question deserves a spot. TCU has the advantage of sitting in the top four, and inertia seems to set in once a team reaches that level. This is where we miss the BCS and the cold-hearted algorithms of the BCS HAL 9000. After making a decision, humans find rationale to support the choice, often making irrational ongoing choices to support the initial decision. Changing our minds is hard. We prefer to think of ourselves as logical beings capable of making smart choices, so rethinking and second-guessing ourselves causes stress. We don't like stress. Thus, observers should expect the Committee, if given even a sliver of an opportunity, to keep TCU in and Baylor out if both teams win. For example, a blowout win by TCU and a close victory by Baylor could justify that decision. Which is precisely what will happen. Let's get it over with and put the Committee behind glass, place bananas at random behind 25 trap doors and use the results as the selection process. Might as well.

Our picks: Iowa State (for the hell of it), Baylor, and Oklahoma.

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The other big conference championships on Saturday:

#1 Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) vs. #16 Missouri (10-2, 7-1 SEC), 3 p.m.

Line: Alabama -14.5

#4 Florida State (12-0, 8-0 ACC) vs. #11 Georgia Tech (10-2, 6-2 ACC), 7 p.m.

Line: Florida State -4

#13 Wisconsin (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) vs. #5 Ohio State (11-1, 8-0 Big Ten), 7:17 p.m.

Line: Wisconsin -4.5

Let there be chaos. Should the favorites hold serve, all three are in. Even a loss by 'Bama (very unlikely) won't drop the Tide out of the top four, so let's ignore that one. Should the Seminoles lose, however . . . things will get interesting. In fact, we suspect the Committee may be rooting for the Rambling Wreck to pull off the upset. After all, if FSU drops out of the picture, that's one more spot for TCU or Baylor (see above). But the better possibility is a loss by the jinxed Buckeyes. Starting QB J.T. Barrett, himself a second-stringer, went down with a broken ankle last week, leaving OSU ripe for the picking for Wisco RB Melvin Gordon and his road-grating offensive line. An upset (so says Vegas, based on the spread) by Ohio State really puts the squeeze on the selection process. Will the Committee assume the Buckeyes can't compete at an elite level with a backup's backup? We figure only a dominating W will nudge OSU into the top four, depending on how all the other dominoes fall. Starting around 8 p.m., Saturday night will start to get very, very intriguing with Baylor, Florida State and Ohio State all in play. Those of you attending a wedding (say) or some other formal event may want to plan a few secret missions to the TV in the lobby. Pick your spots. The Chicken Dance, for example, is a prime opportunity to duck out.

Our picks: Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State. A boring 3-0 for the chalk, yes, but we don't have faith in the Badgers and would rather back a third-string quarterback. People often discount such players. After all, Urban Meyer recruited (we think) the kid to play for Ohio State just like everyone else on the roster. He must have some talent. Unless he's the son of some local big-shot car dealer, in which case we reserve the right to rescind this pick.

The Chicken's Picks
Not to neglect all the little guys in action on Saturday, here are the fowl's selections from among a carefully color-coded pile of kernels:

Northern Illinois (-6.5) vs. Bowling Green, Friday, 6 p.m.

Louisiana Tech vs. Marshall (-10.5), Saturday 11 a.m.

Fresno State vs. #22 Boise State (-23), Saturday, 9 p.m.

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Mike Luce is our man on campus - every Friday and Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:55 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"To be clear, Illinois is in dire condition," Rauner said. "Our financial condition is far worse than has ever been discussed publicly before."

*

Me, Nov. 17:

"Let me read between the lines and make a prediction: Rauner and his people will 'get a better understanding' of where the state's finances are, all right, and announce that the situation is far more dire than he, the master of private-equity due diligence, realized during the campaign, when the budget was top secret and unavailable to anyone except those with special Google clearance."

*

I said it before then, too, on one of my podcasts, but I can't remember which one.

Probably this one.

*

The problem is that the media let him get away with serial bullshit during the campaign, and it's not gonna stop now; it's only gonna get worse.

*

P.S.: It's still okay to ask Rauner about clouting his daughter into Payton high school; he doesn't get to just shake the Etch-a-Sketch and make the unanswered questions disappear. Unless you let him.

Policing The Police
"Public officials around the country are grappling with how to handle police officers accused of using deadly force without justification," Chip Mitchell reports for WBEZ.

In New York City, the focus is an officer's chokehold that killed a 43-year-old man in July. In Cleveland, the spotlight is on a cop who fatally shot a 12-year-old last month. In Ferguson, Missouri, tempers are still hot about the August shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old.

Then there's Chicago. Since 2007, according to city records, police gunfire has killed at least 116 people and injured another 258. The city's Independent Police Review Authority, the agency in charge of investigating those shootings, has not found a single one to be unjustified.

Well, maybe our cops are just that good! Chicago, yeah!

Now a WBEZ investigation raises questions about just how independent the agency is. City records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that IPRA's management now includes six former cops - officials who have spent most of their career in sworn law enforcement. Those include the agency's top three leaders.

"Complaints may be seen not through the eyes of the citizen but through the eyes of a police officer," said Paula Tillman, a former IPRA investigative supervisor who was a Chicago cop herself in the 1970s and 1980s. "The investigations can be engineered so that they have a tilt toward law enforcement and not what the citizen is trying to say."

Tillman, who left IPRA in 2012, said she noticed a tilt in some of those shooting probes.

Oh.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who tapped [33-year law enforcement veteran Scott] Ando to head IPRA last year, did not answer WBEZ when we asked whether the agency's management shift conflicted with its oversight mission. He referred our questions to IPRA, whose spokesman sent a statement praising the agency's "balanced workforce" and listing recent community outreach efforts, including a new brochure and the creation of a satellite office and an advisory board.

A new brochure? Is it Chokeholds for Dummies? Or maybe A Step-By-Step Guide To Justifying Every Shot Cops Fire.

*

"One recent IPRA investigation led to Cook County felony charges against a police district commander, Glenn Evans, for allegedly inserting the barrel of his handgun down a 22-year-old's throat last year while pressing a Taser to his crotch and threatening to kill him - a case revealed by WBEZ. (Ando in April recommended that Supt. Garry McCarthy strip Evans of police powers. But McCarthy, backed by Emanuel, did not remove Evans from the command post until the charges were brought more than four months later.)"

Emphasis mine to show that when the "I" in IPRA isn't standing for incompetent, it's standing for impotent.

(Well, it's not really incompetence because they're very competent at doing what they were designed to do. But it was a nice line.)

*

"Samuel Walker, a University of Nebraska at Omaha criminologist, says it is common for the independence of police-oversight agencies to erode. He said police unions sometimes convince politicians to curb an agency's powers. Or, as in Chicago, the mayor allows former cops to take the lead.

"They make the argument that somebody with a law-enforcement background is going to better understand policing and be able to do a better job of assessing complaints," Walker said.

But he thinks this argument only goes so far. "Public perception of independence is critically important in terms of the credibility of the agency," Walker said. "As you staff it with people with law-enforcement backgrounds, you're going to create distrust."

That distrust, Walker said, means police brutality may go unreported and unpunished.

Or reported and still unpunished.

*

"Experts say a paucity of sustained excessive-force complaints is not unusual for a police-oversight agency, even in a big city. But it was not supposed to be that way in Chicago.

"One misconduct [incident] is one too many and I think people want openness - transparency from the police department," Mayor Richard M. Daley said in 2007 when he announced the formation of IPRA in response to a series of scandals, most memorably a video recording that showed a beefy off-duty cop named Anthony Abbate beating up a petite bartender who had refused to serve him.

Previously, police-brutality complaints against Chicago cops were handled by the Office of Professional Standards, a unit of the police department itself.

Daley moved the agency under his direct supervision and gave it subpoena power. He also kept civilians in charge of IPRA to counter what he called "the perception" that investigations into alleged police misconduct were tainted by cops.

Seven years later, that perception still dogs the agency.

Maybe that's because IPRA is delivering the same results as the body it replaced negating the reason for IPRA's existence.

See: Analysis of IPRA's first four years of operations uncovers that their rate of sustaining citizen complaints against CPD officers is identical to its predecessor.

And then there's the feckless Chicago Police Board.

So to answer WBEZ's question: Who polices the police? Nobody.

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See also:
* Police Officer Demonstrates The Proper Technique For Subduing A Grand Jury.

* Survival Strategies For Purchasing A Soft Drink.

#WhitePrivilege, #AliveWhileBlack.

* Richard Pryor Knew All About Police Brutality.

* Louis CK: I Enjoy Being White.

* Fatal Police Encounters In New York City.

* What A Cleveland News Outlet Should Learn From Its Flawed Tamir Rice Coverage.

* George Carlin On American Bullshit.

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The Beachwood Radio Network
* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour is in production!

ETA: Friday afternoon.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour is in pre-production!

ETA: Saturday evening.

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Jay Cutler For MVP?
This was a real, live discussion.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men
Kings of the hill.

Big Changes In Obamacare's Fine Print
Prepare to pay more.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: St. Vincent, Speak Out, Robert Delong, Future Islands, and Lisa Loeb.

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Friends In Low Places
Rosemont Just Passed A Law To Keep Garth Brooks' Incentives A Secret.

In response to a Tribune Freedom of Information Act request.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Wood privilege.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

Jay Cutler For MVP?

All the pieces are in place!

20/1.

Who bought it?


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Previously:

"I think it's a joke."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:47 AM | Permalink

Big Changes In Fine Print Of Some 2015 Obamacare Plans

This story was co-published with The New York Times' The Upshot.

At first glance, the 2015 health plans offered by the Ohio nonprofit insurer CareSource look a lot like the ones it sold this year, in the Affordable Care Act's first enrollment season.

The monthly premiums are nearly identical, and the deductibles are the same.

But tucked within the plans' jargon are changes that could markedly affect how much consumers pay for health care. Generic drugs will soon be free, but the cost of expensive specialty medications will increase. Co-payments for visits to primary-care doctors will go down, but those for emergency room trips will be higher.

Millions of people nationwide bought health insurance this year through the federal government's health insurance exchange, often through the website Healthcare.gov. Now, as they pick plans for next year, they face a complex battery of choices and changes.

They have until Dec. 15 to select a new plan or they'll be re-enrolled automatically in the one they currently have. Or, if that plan no longer exists, they'll be enrolled in another product offered by the same insurer, when available. But even if they get the same plan - of the nearly 2,800 health plans offered in 2014, about 1,700 of them will exist in the same form next year - their benefits may not stay the same.

"You're getting re-enrolled in the same carrier, but there's basically no guarantees that your product looks anywhere near the same as it did last year," said Caroline Pearson, vice president of Avalere Health, a consulting firm.

Much attention has focused on changes to plans' monthly premiums, but changes to other kinds of benefits - affecting the cost of things like doctors' visits and prescriptions - can be trickier to understand and make a huge difference in annual health care costs.

A ProPublica analysis of the 2014 and 2015 plans in 34 states being offered on the exchange shows the adjustments taking place. ProPublica has created a tool that allows users to see, quickly and easily, some significant ways the plans have changed from one year to the next.

Customers of more than 900 plans will see their out-of-pocket maximum for medical bills increase, usually to $6,600 for individuals, the most allowed by law for next year. Only about 250 plans are lowering their out-of-pocket maximums. About 180 plans are being discontinued for at least some customers, and the rest are keeping the same limits.

Members of more than 600 plans will see their medical deductibles increase, while those in about 380 will see their deductibles drop. Consumers of one Illinois plan will see their deductible increase by $4,800. Those re-enrolled in plans offered by Florida Blue face deductibles as much as $3,650 higher than those this year, while other customers of the same company will see deductibles decrease by up to $3,000. Florida Blue did not respond to a request for comment.

More than a quarter of the 2,800 health plans altered the costs of specialty medications for conditions like multiple sclerosis and AIDS, mostly increasing the patients' share.

Some policy changes appear subtle, just a matter of adding or subtracting a few words, but are actually quite significant. This year, many insurers charged members a set fee of a few hundred dollars for emergency room visits. For next year, some of those plans changed the wording of their benefit, adding "co-pay after deductible." That means the insurers won't pay for any portion of an emergency room visit until consumers meet their deductible, spending thousands of dollars.

"Everyone has focused on premiums in the press because premiums are at least easy to understand," Pearson said. People have a harder time detecting the effect of changes to what's called a plan's benefit design. "It's just incredibly hard to do, but I think it's really important."

What ProPublica's analysis suggests is that even those who would be willing to pay higher premiums to keep their current plan may be surprised to learn that substantial details have changed. They should go back to Heatlhcare.gov or to ProPublica's news app to make sure their plan is still the best choice.

Shopping around is essential - and there's little time to delay.

The open enrollment period continues until Feb. 15, and customers who are automatically renewed in their plans can still make changes until that time, but only changes made by Dec. 15 will take effect on Jan. 1.

The Health and Human Services secretary, Sylvia Burwell, has been encouraging consumers to take an active role in the renewal process. But in the first two weeks of open enrollment, fewer than 400,000 consumers actively re-enrolled. "The first deadline is just a couple of weeks away," she said in a news release on Wednesday. "We're encouraging everyone who is already covered through the marketplace to come back and shop because there could be savings."

Everyone's health care needs are different. Some people might do best with a plan that has a higher premium and lower out-of-pocket costs for particular services; others might save money by choosing a plan with a lower premium and higher co-payments.

Those earning less than four times the federal poverty rate ($62,920 for a couple) qualify for subsidies to pay their premiums, and those earning even less may qualify for additional help to lower their out-of-pocket costs once enrolled.

Changes to insurance benefits are hardly exclusive to the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. They happen regularly in health plans offered by employers.

Under the law, insurers are somewhat limited in how they can change their plans. Products are grouped by tiers: Bronze plans cover about 60 percent of their members' overall health services; silver plans 70 percent; gold plans 80 percent. To stay at those levels from year to year, plans can't just increase all of their charges. If they charge more for some things, that often means charging less for others.

Explore The App

That's what happened at CareSource, the Ohio nonprofit. Officials there said they changed their benefits based on comments from members and conversations with others who are uninsured. "Many didn't understand the value of health insurance," said Scott Streator, vice president of Enterprise Strategy at CareSource. "Therefore, we changed our plan design to make it more simple, more understandable and more preventive, focused on everyday types of health care needs."

That translated into free generic drugs and lower co-pays for physician office visits, Streator said. "If you make these changes, there's trade-offs," he said. "The costs go up somewhere else." In contrast with this year, when members pay $250 for emergency room visits, they will need to meet the plan's deductible next year before their E.R. visits are covered with a co-payment that varies from $250 to $500. And members will now pay 40 percent of the cost of specialty medications, up from 25 percent this year.

CareSource enrolled more than 30,000 people during the 2014 open enrollment cycle and expects to double that amount this time around, Streator said.

Another insurer whose products are changing is Coventry Health Care. One Coventry silver plan in the Kansas City, Kan., region is decreasing the costs of primary care visits to $5 from $10, but is increasing its medical deductible to $2,750 from $2,000, increasing its out-of-pocket maximum to $6,600 from $6,350, and increasing the cost of generic drugs to $15 from $10, among other changes. Premiums are also going up.

A spokesman said the company tries to balance its benefits and costs.

Vantage Health Plan, based in Louisiana, is increasing the medical deductible in its silver plan to $2,900 from $1,800 and is raising its maximum out-of-pocket costs, too. But the company said most of its members won't feel the changes much. That's because about 85 percent of the 8,400 members who enrolled in the last cycle received government subsidies.

Although those without subsidies "are going to get hit, all that was designed so that all those who are getting the subsidy, their blow would be softened because that's where the majority of our business falls," said Billy Justice, Vantage's director of marketing and sales.

Vantage hopes to double its enrollment for next year.

The data analyzed by ProPublica does not include information for states that run their own insurance exchanges, including California and New York. In California, plans are required to offer a standard benefit design, which allows consumers to compare plans more easily. Insurers compete on their brand's reputation, premiums and on the size of their doctor and hospital networks.

"There can be a big difference in the experience of the consumer in terms of what they pay out of pocket if you don't have standardized benefits," said Anthony Wright, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Health Access in California.

The government's plan to automatically re-enroll consumers for 2015 has come under criticism, with some warning that consumers who don't make a choice themselves could end up in a plan with higher costs. As a result, the government is considering a different system for 2017 in which consumers who don't pick their own plan could be shifted to the lowest-cost plan in the market.

Has your insurance company changed your benefits this year? We'd like to hear about it. E-mail Charles.ornstein@propublica.org.

-

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

* How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare.

* Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare.

* Answered: Why Two Obama Loyalists Lost Their Health Policies.

* Health Care Delays Squeeze Patients In State High-Risk Pools.

* Coming In January: Obamacare Rate Shock Part Two.

* The Obamacare Deadline No One Is Talking About.

* The Obamacare Paper Pileup.

* Deadline? What Deadline? The Obamacare Sign-Up Dates Keep Moving.

* Journalists Turn To Themselves For Obamacare Stories.

* Health Care Fine Print Strikes Again: Canceled Customers Transferred To New Policies Without Permission.

* Obamacare Enrollment Report Leaves Out Key Details.

* Obamacare Bolsters Market Share For Dominant Carriers.

* Judging Obamacare: How Do We Know If It Is A Success Or Failure?

* Medicaid Drowning In Backlog.

* A New Way Insurers Are Shifting Costs To The Sick.

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:58 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. St. Vincent at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.


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2. Speak Out at Mojoes in Joliet on Monday night.

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3. Robert Delong at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

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4. Future Islands at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

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5. Lisa Loeb at City Winery on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:21 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men

Kings of the hill.

alleymenbw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

December 4, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:49 AM | Permalink

Song Of The Moment: Fight The Power

"In 1988, shortly after the release of their second album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy were preparing for the European leg of the Run's House tour with Run-D.M.C.," according to the song's Wikipedia entry.

"Before embarking on the tour, film director Spike Lee approached Public Enemy with the proposition of making a song for one of his movies. Lee, who was directing Do the Right Thing, sought to use the song as a leitmotif in the film about racial tension in a Brooklyn, New York neighborhood.

"He said of his decision in a subsequent interview for Time, 'I wanted it to be defiant, I wanted it to be angry, I wanted it to be very rhythmic. I thought right away of Public Enemy.'

"At a meeting in Lower Manhattan, Lee told lead MC Chuck D, producer Hank Shocklee of The Bomb Squad, and executive producer Bill Stephney that he needed an anthemic song for the film.

"While flying over Italy on the tour, Chuck D was inspired to write most of the song. He recalled his idea, 'I wanted to have sorta like the same theme as the original 'Fight the Power' by The Isley Brothers and fill it in with some kind of modernist views of what our surroundings were at that particular time.'

"The group's bass player Brian Hardgroove has said of the song's message, 'Law enforcement is necessary. As a species we haven't evolved past needing that. 'Fight the Power' is not about fighting authority - it's not that at all. It's about fighting abuse of power.'"

*

Soundtrack version.

*

Full version from Fear of a Black Planet.

*

LYRICS:

1989 the number another summer (get down)
Sound of the funky drummer
Music hittin' your heart cause I know you got sould
(Brothers and sisters, hey)
Listen if you're missin' y'all
Swingin' while I'm singin'
Givin' whatcha gettin'
Knowin' what I know
While the Black bands sweatin'
And the rhythm rhymes rollin'
Got to give us what we want
Gotta give us what we need
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say
Fight the power

[Chorus]

As the rhythm designed to bounce
What counts is that the rhymes
Designed to fill your mind
Now that you've realized the prides arrived
We got to pump the stuff to make us tough
from the heart
It's a start, a work of art
To revolutionize make a change nothin's strange
People, people we are the same
No we're not the same
Cause we don't know the game
What we need is awareness, we can't get careless
You say what is this?
My beloved lets get down to business
Mental self defensive fitness
(Yo) bum rush the show
You gotta go for what you know
Make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say . . .
Fight the Power

[Chorus]

Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Motherfuck him and John Wayne
Cause I'm Black and I'm proud
I'm ready and hyped plus I'm amped
Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check
Don't worry be happy
Was a number one jam
Damn if I say it you can slap me right here
(Get it) lets get this party started right
Right on, c'mon
What we got to say
Power to the people no delay
To make everybody see
In order to fight the powers that be

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Previously in Song of the Moment:
* Iron Man
* The Story of Bo Diddley
* Teach Your Children
* Dream Vacation
* When The Levee Breaks
* I Kissed A Girl
* Theme From Shaft
* Rocky Mountain High
* North to Alaska
* Barracuda
* Rainy Days and Mondays
* Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
* Baby, It's Cold Outside
* Man in the Mirror
* Birthday Sex
* Rio
* My Sharona
* Alex Chilton
* Surfin' Bird
* By The Time I Get To Arizona
* Heaven and Hell
* Sunday Bloody Sunday
* Lawless One
* Tell It Like It Is
* The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
* Lake Shore Drive
* On, Wisconsin!
* Anarchy in the U.K.
* Ballad of a Thin Man
* White Riot
* Know Your Rights
* Chicago Teacher
* Youngstown
* Over The Cliff
* Almost Gone (The Ballad of Bradley Manning)
* Party at the NSA
* V.E.N.T.R.A.
* Plutocrat (The Ballad of Bruce Rauner)

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:16 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: In The Hunt?

We've gotten to that time of the season where all television networks are obliged to display a graphic detailing which teams would be playoff-bound if the season were to end during Week 13, and which teams are "in the hunt."

This digital display usually appears near the beginning of the broadcast; right after Fox analyst Moose Johnston's "Keys To The Game" segment.

Fox then displays it again in the third quarter. And as though you had forgotten during the last 20 minutes, once more during the fourth.

Aaaaaand lastly, at the game's conclusion the graphic is paraded out there again with updated standings coupled with hard hitting audio commentary like "at a record of 3-9, the G-Men are going have a difficult time making the playoffs in 2014."

Thanks, Moose.

Throughout the holiday weekend, we've seen the 5-7 Bears appear on said graphic because I assume the computer wiz that designed it could not imagine a world in which there would only be eight teams in a conference with winning records.

Or for that manner, that teams flirting with a negative number of wins could be 1 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.

Depending on who you ask, this world could be a magical place where underdog dreams come true, or a hellscape in which the living envy the dead.

For the believers in the former scenario, it's like I always tell my kid:

Atlanta, you definitely weren't supposed to happen. Frankly, I was as surprised as anyone that 13 weeks into this thing you still have a chance to make it to term . . . but we're so glad you're here!

Though not statistically eliminated from playoff contention, the outlook is bleak for our Bears. Here's a frighteningly real stat:

At 2-10, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a higher likelihood of making it to the dance than our underwhelming but favorite team.

Why? Because there are only three teams the Bucs have to hurdle in the standings and they all suck balls.

You know I'm getting depressed when I start working "facts" into this thing.

The Bears are up against long odds, and worse yet, we know the odds are even longer that the team will be able to hold the interest of its fan base.

Without the hope of a legitimate playoff run, competition for the time of the Bear fan is fierce. The options presented by the outside world are robust to say the least.

We could be taking a nap or developing a strange interest in the Texans based largely on a man crush for J.J. Watt.

Hey, why not get a head start on Photoshopping our True Detective themed holiday cards.

RustChristmas.jpg

Keys To The Game
keys.jpg

In order to hold your attention, the next section of this column is best read with inspiring football music.

Now, trust me when I say that I tried to clear the score that comprises the music bed underneath classic NFL Films vignettes with the Sabol family.

Marching band orchestrations of "What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor" and whatnot.

Unfortunately, I used up most of my $47,000 annual budget on cosmetic surgery*, so I was unable to get the express written consent of the NFL and with only $11 remaining in the coffers, concessions became necessary.

That said, I gotta tell you, I couldn't be happier with the outcome.

Turns out that an old running buddy from my Berkeley days [Editor's Note: Carl briefly lived in as a homeless person outside of Berkeley, California] goes way back with famed composer Shuki Levy, and thanks to my longstanding relationship with his crack dealer, Mr. Levy was willing to lend me the use of one of his most epic and well-known compositions for the price of lunch.

So without further preamble, here are steps the Bears franchise can take to hold the interest of its fan base:

(Cue the music)

  • Swingers party at Soldier Field. With more than 30,000 couples in attendance, there's bound to be a match for you and your spouse's erotic tastes.
  • Monday, December 15th is Disco Night . . . for the players. I have a feeling Jay Cutler will start running more bootlegs and getting rid of the ball more quickly when his helmet is replaced with one of Phil Spector's wigs.
  • Invite Dave Wannstedt back to coach the Bears in Week 17 just to see if he still knows how to do football stuff**.
  • Send out an e-mail to all season-ticket holders committing to publicly freeze Marc Trestman in carbonite and send him back Montreal Alouettes owner and famed cartel sloth Jaques D'Hutte if the Bears lose to the Cowboys.

Seriously, play the He-Man theme song at the same time as a muted Franco Harris highlight reel. It f-ing works.

Midweek Cowboy
Rounding out the second half of the highly unusual back-to-back Thursday game schedule, the Bears face another of the aforementioned teams "in the hunt," the Dallas Cow-Joneses.

Except the opposition is four games above .500 and has a legitimate shot at losing in the first round of the playoffs to Green Bay - as opposed to the Bears who have already lost their season to the Packers.

You could learn a thing or two about efficiency from our squad, Dallas.

The Cowboys are a lot like the Bears in several respects, except they keep their demoralizing blowouts to within 24 points and plan to ride their All-Pro running back into the ground until his legs are worn down to eraser-like nubs such as those you'd find on the characters you create for yourself on the Wii.

As a writer (or whatever it is you call what I'm doing), the best part of editorializing about Dallas is that the work has been done for you by several earlier iterations of Tony Romo-led teams.

A quick scan of the Internet for news articles about the Cowboys reveals that you could apply headlines from any of the last four Decembers, and they're all still valid.

"Playoff Push Crumbles As Romo Stumbles On The Road"

"Despite Early Season Expectations, Dallas Finishes With Mediocre Record"

"Overused Cowboys Running Back Injured"

"Dez Bryant Screams 'I Can't Do Your Job For You F&@$HEADS' At Dallas Defense, Is Later Punched Anonymously By Teammate"

"Should Jerry Jones Be The GM Of A Chik-fil-A?"

[Wipes Hands And Walks Away From Keyboard]

Kool-Aid (3 of 5 - Green Line Pale Ale)
A tasty Goose Island offering worthy of a pairing with any fried dish.

In terms of math (if that's your thing), the Bears can still finish with the first winning record of the Marc Trestman era.

Now if you're a realist like our friend Rustin Cohle (see above), you'd say that time is a flat circle and that anyone who watches one Marc Trestman-coached Bears teams is doomed to view the same 8-8 outcome each year from inside a locked room again and again until we finally realize that we're all just sharing a false dream, the dream of being a person.

Seriously, if you haven't watched True Detective yet, steal HBO Go from a friend or something. McConaughey and Harrelson are awesome, It's full of nihilistic one liners and there's tits.

When I said I was a writer earlier, it's sentences like that which prove my point.

Accomplishing that lofty goal of winning two more games than you've lost and breaking the endless cycle of the flat rotating limbo starts with a turnaround that begins tonight.

Sure, it likely should have begun against the Bills (who thinks I'm an idiot for calling the first game of the season a "must-win" now?), but it's never too late for now.

The Cowboys got on a roll early in the season, but they don't look like a team that has its act together.

Hey, remember that time when the Bears beat a "far superior" 49ers team on the road and then everyone found out later that San Francisco isn't that good this year?

I think we've got another one of those situations a-brewin' here!

Bears 31, Cowboys 28

* I know $46,989 sounds like a lot of money for a permanent testicle glossing, but I no longer need to use a flashlight during a power outage or while camping, so the procedure will pay for itself in the cost of Double-A batteries alone.

** True story: I Googled "did Dave Wannstedt have a stroke" after seeing this picture of Wanny to make sure that the joke wasn't a shot below the belt.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:35 AM | Permalink

December 3, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Illinois' Republican governor-elect says he's finding the state budget is 'worse than has been discussed' as he learns more about it," AP reports.

As predicted. By me. Many times. Because I've seen this movie before.

Good reporters memorize the scripts.

But Not So Bad That We Have To Stop Subsidizing Corporations
"Medline Industries, the giant medical supply distributor in the northern suburbs, has agreed to keep its headquarters in Illinois in exchange for nearly $18 million in tax credits from the Quinn administration," Crain's reports.

*

"David Roeder, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which administers the tax credit, said the negotiations have been a 'very lengthy process.'

"I think they were finally won over by the substantial roots they've already put down in Lake County and the fact that they've enjoyed a good work force there," Roeder said.

Indeed.

"Medline Industries cherishes its 100-year-plus heritage as an Illinois company and prizes the talented workers it finds here," Joe Cahill writes for Crain's.

Yet the Mundelein-based manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies apparently has been eyeing the exit for a decade or so. Only a steady stream of tax breaks has prevented it from leaving the home state that contributes so much to its success.

That's the only conclusion one can draw from Medline's assiduous use of Illinois' Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or Edge, tax credit program. Edge credits are available only to companies that make credible threats to leave the state, according to a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which administers the program.

An Edge credit of nearly $18 million awarded on Dec. 1 by outgoing-Gov. Pat Quinn is the fourth Medline has landed since 2001, according to the commerce department. The tax credits were worth about $12 million to Medline over the past five years, state records show. So it seems Medline has made at least four credible threats to move jobs out of Illinois since 2001.

Click through to read the rest - and why Medline's threats hardly seem credible at all.

*

"A Medline representative did not provide further comment."

*

Oh, and Roeder, the state spokesman defending the move? He used to be a business reporter for the Sun-Times who once reported stories such as this one:

"Economic development in Illinois is dominated by state government programs that lavish subsidies on big businesses, especially manufacturing firms, while providing little proof that the money is wisely spent, a report to be issued today concludes."

*

P.S.: "Medline is the eighth-largest privately held company in the Chicago area, with $5.8 billion in 2013 revenue."

Raising Wages Minimally
"The City Council on Tuesday approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to boost Chicago's minimum wage to $13 an hour by mid-2019, while efforts in Springfield to hike the state's rate and apply some brakes to further city increases fizzled at least until January," the Tribune reports.

"In an overwhelming 44-5 vote steeped in aldermanic and mayoral re-election politics, Emanuel and supportive council members sought to frame their move as a way to lift out of poverty children in thousands of families, many led by single mothers.

"'The minimum wage is speaking to making sure that nobody who works raises a child in poverty,' Emanuel said. 'The minimum wage . . . really comes down to making sure that your child does not go to school on an empty stomach (or) making sure that you don't pick between medicine or school supplies.'"

Thank you, massa!

This is progress, but it's bread crumbs. I find it hard to be impressed by a new wage that won't be reached for another four-and-a-half years. That's right: the minimum wage won't reach $13 an hour until July 2019.

"Under the new ordinance, Chicago's minimum-wage workers will see their first increase next July, when the rate increases to $10 an hour from the current statewide hourly rate of $8.25.

"It then will increase by 50 cents in July 2016 and another 50 cents in July 2017. After that, the minimum wage would go up $1 in July 2018 and $1 in July 2019 to reach $13 an hour."

So let's rewrite Rahm: "The minimum wage is speaking to making sure that nobody who works raises a child in poverty four years from now - and even then, it will be close. The minimum wage really comes down to a political issue that Democrats exploit when they are desperate and need votes. Look at Pat Quinn.

"So, because I face a difficult re-election and I've royally pissed of low-income folks - particularly African Americans - by closing their schools while I pal around with hedge funders, I need to say things like 'this really comes down to making sure that your child does not go to school on an empty stomach or making sure that you don't pick between medicine or school supplies.' Even though that's bullshit. You still won't be able to afford medicine and school supplies."

By the way, Bulworth is on FUSE tonight at 7 p.m.

*

Lifting people out of poverty can wait!

*

"For his part, Rauner voiced his concerns over the city's actions and its affect on Chicago's 'competitiveness.'"

By which he means employers competing to see who can pay their workers the least while not actually descending into slavery.

*

"While Chicago aldermen press to boost the wages of the city's lowest-paid workers as they enter campaign season, half of those seeking another term on the City Council also have seen fit to accept their own pay increase," the Tribune also reports.

"In all, 28 of the city's 50 aldermen accepted a 2015 pay increase, which added more than $2,000 to each of their salaries."

Effective immediately!

"Aldermen will no longer have to choose between medicine and, um, a bottle of Rauner's wine."

*

Bear in mind, many aldermen have second jobs - or first jobs, as it were.

Meanwhile, Colleges Break Promises Not To Screw Poor Kids
They pledged at the White House that they wouldn't do exactly what they're doing.

Kids of aldermen and Medline execs take precedence over kids waiting four more years until their parents can earn $13 an hour.

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Fantasy Fix: Playoff Push Possibilities
There's still time to get help.

Embrace Winter At The Forest Preserves!
S'mores, sledding, canoes, surfing, storybooks, DIY reuse bird feeders and more!

The Thanksgiving Week/Weekend In Rock
ICYMI: Mean Jeans, The Lemons, The Gizmos, Death To All, Animals As Leaders, Lydia Loveless, Lucinda Williams, Angel Olsen, Thee Oh Sees, Wiz Khalifa, Toupee, John Krautner, El La Arrolladora Banda El Limon, Twista, El DeBarge, Ace Frehley, Jack Name, Vicious Attack, WHUT?, En Masse, Air Raid, Krooked Drivers, Old Shoe w/Chicago Farmer, The Acacia Strain, Korn, George Dalaras, Slipknot, The Devin Townsend Project, and Monuments.

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BeachBook
* Peanuts Gang Singing Chicago's "25 Or 6 To 4."

* Ditka Comments Predictably On Ferguson.

* Montgomery County Exec Invokes Richard J. Daley.

* United Ends Chicago Flights To Atlantic City.

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TweetWood

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: No Sleep Till Posen.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 PM | Permalink

Colleges That Pledged To Help Poor Families Have Been Doing The Opposite, New Figures Show

Decked out in black tie and formal dresses, guests at Mr. Jefferson's Capital Ball finished their salmon with horseradish sauce just as the band lured them onto the dance floor with classics including "Shout" and "My Girl." Some of the people who paid up to $400 a couple to attend the event in the Grand Ballroom of the historic Mayflower Hotel joined in the Electric Slide.

The ball was more than just another Friday night party to ease Washington into the weekend. It had the commendable purpose of raising money for scholarships to the University of Virginia.

But not the kind of scholarships that go to low-income students based solely on their financial need. The proceeds from Mr. Jefferson's Capital Ball are destined for merit aid for applicants who have the high grade-point averages and top scores on entrance tests that help institutions do well on college rankings. Merit aid can also attract middle- and upper-income students whose families can pay the rest of the tuition bill and therefore furnish badly needed revenue to colleges and universities.

As institutions vie for income and prestige in this way, the net prices they're charging the lowest-income students, after discounts and financial aid, continue to rise faster on average than the net prices they're charging higher-income ones, according to an analysis of newly released data the universities and colleges are required to report to the U.S. Department of Education.

This includes the 100 higher-education institutions whose leaders attended a widely publicized White House summit in January and promised to expand the opportunities for low-income students to go to college.

In fact, the private universities in that group collectively raised what the poorest families pay by 10 percent, compared to 5 percent for wealthier students, according to the analysis by The Dallas Morning News and The Hechinger Report based on information the U.S. Department of Education released this month covering 2008-09 to 2012-13, the most recent period available.

Not only did the White House pledge schools raise their net prices faster for the poorest than for higher-income families on a percentage basis, the new figures show; nearly a third increased the actual dollar amount more quickly for their lowest-income than their higher-income students.

Related: College, federal financial aid increasingly benefits the rich

At the University of Virginia, for instance, the poorest students saw their net price climb $4,313 over that period, compared to $2,687 for students in the top earning bracket.

"Institutions need to remain vigilant in making sure that the students with the highest need have the highest access to aid," U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said when asked about the disparity between the promises made by institutions and their real-world performance.

The White House has scheduled a follow-up summit for Thursday on the issue of keeping college affordable for the lowest-income students.
risingpricespoorest-400x334.jpgAt the first summit, UVA President Teresa Sullivan was among the leaders who pledged to help poor families afford the price of college. From the start of the economic downturn through 2013, however, UVA raised the net price for its very poorest students by 69 percent, more than three times faster than for wealthier students, whose tuition increased 21 percent, the federal figures show.

And even since January, beginning with the class that entered this fall, the public university dropped a policy of meeting full need for the lowest-income students without requiring them to take out loans and now asks in-state families to borrow up to $14,000 over four years and out-of-state families up to $28,000.

"All too many elite, extremely wealthy colleges and universities that should be operating as engines of socioeconomic mobility are instead calcifying inequality," said Michael Dannenberg, director of higher education at the nonpartisan think tank The Education Trust.

What's "Net Price?"

Colleges are required to annually report their average net prices - the total cost of tuition, fees, room, board, books, and other expenses, minus federal, state, and institutional scholarships and grants - to the Education Department. They must also break down those prices based on students' family income, from the lowest - $30,000 or less - to the highest - $110,000 or more.

There are limitations to the data. They cover only full-time freshmen who get federal grants, loans, or work-study jobs. The most recent figures cover the period ending more than a year before that January White House summit. And some schools dispute how net price should be determined and use their own calculations that are different from the federal formula.

But the figures give the only available picture of what students from different income brackets pay to study at the same university or college. The data also make clear that, while lower-income students at many of the institutions represented at the White House summit still pay less than higher-income ones, their net prices are rising faster on an inflation-adjusted percentage basis than the net prices charged to students more able to pay. In some cases, costs for the wealthier families are actually falling.

Related: Poorer families are bearing the brunt of college price hikes, data show

Even at the 36 taxpayer-supported public universities that signed the White House pledge, poor students paid an average net price of about $8,000 in 2008-09 and almost $10,000 in 2012-13. That's a 25 percent increase. During the same period, wealthier students at those schools saw their average net price go from about $18,000 to $21,000, a 16 percent increase. The figures have been adjusted for inflation.

Universities "are giving lots of merit aid to kids who don't need it," and less financial aid to those who do, said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan think tank The Century Foundation.

In fact, Kahlenberg said, "There are powerful incentives for universities to avoid admitting and enrolling low-income students. The way that universities compete is on prestige and on the U.S.News & World Report rankings, and you get no credit for having a generous financial aid program that brings in more low-income students."

Colleges Respond

A UVA spokesman stressed that Mr. Jefferson's Capital Ball is run by an independent foundation of alumni and other supporters, not by the university itself. He also said the elimination of the no-loan policy for low-income students was unavoidable because the cost of assisting them exclusively with grants had nearly doubled since 2008. Requiring all students to borrow is projected to save the university more than $10 million through 2018.

"UVA has committed to providing the necessary need but also needs to ensure that the program is sustainable," the spokesman, McGregor McCance, said.

Heated protests over the changes, however, brought attention to the fact that, even as it was cutting the cost of providing financial aid to its poorest students, UVA was spending $12 million on a new squash facility and increasing its marketing budget by $18 million annually.

Since then, a member of the Board of Visitors, Blue Ridge Capital president John Griffin, has pledged $4 million for scholarships for high-achieving low-income students and to seed an endowment for financial aid for top low-income undergraduates.

Related: College-rating proposal shines spotlight on powerful lobby

A few other universities and colleges that were represented at the White House "Improving College Opportunity" summit said their net prices for low-income students appeared to be increasing more quickly than they really have because they use different formulas than the federal government does to calculate whether or not a student has financial need.

For example, while the government takes into account only the income of the custodial parent in the case of a divorce, these colleges also factor in the income of the parent who does not live at home, and often the value of real estate and other holdings. This means they do not necessarily regard as low income the same students the federal government does, and may not provide them with much financial aid.

That's one reason Claremont McKenna College said it appeared to have more than doubled its net price for its poorest students - 10 times as fast as for their richer classmates - in spite of also signing the White House pledge, spokesman Max Benavidez said.

"Moving from one formula in reporting aid to another completely different methodological formula may account for the misimpression of a large increase," Benavidez said, though he would not provide the formula the college uses.

Another White House-pledge college that uses its own formula to calculate need, Oberlin, did provide specifics. While federal figures show it doubled the net price for its poorest students at a rate 10 times as fast as for the highest group, Oberlin's own calculations - which include the earnings of both parents in cases of divorce, making fewer students qualify as low income than the federal method - show that the net price for the poorest students hardly budged in the last three years and fell in 2012-13, said Debra Chermonte, dean of admissions and financial aid.

Nor are seemingly wealthier families always necessarily able to afford tuition without help. Some may live in places with high costs of living, leaving them less disposable income, or have children close in age who go to college at the same time.

"You might be making $200,000 a year, but you just got divorced and that's a factor and this is a factor and there are other factors," said Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University.

Related: The real cost of college? It's probably even higher than you think

Another president, Patrick Leahy of Wilkes University, said, "There's plenty of aid going to the $80,000 [earners] and below, but once you get to $80,000 it's not like it's some magic number and you can suddenly afford tuition."

Other universities and colleges at which the net price for low-income students has shot up faster than for higher-income ones conceded that financial aid based on merit, as opposed to need, is increasingly important to their bottom lines.

"Tuition-driven schools like UVM must think holistically about the entire undergraduate population and use more merit aid than in the past," said Enrique Corredera, spokesman for the public University of Vermont, another school that signed the White House pledge but has more than doubled the net price for its poorest students, from $4,500 in 2008-09 to $11,000 in 2012-13. Meanwhile, the net price for students in top income group stayed flat at $21,000 a year.

"We do this to attract academically talented students, who play a significant role in determining our ability to attract other students," Corredera said.

Wealthier students, whose families can afford to pay at least some of the tuition, also subsidize financial aid for their poorer classmates, Corredera said.

That subsidy is under attack in some states. The board of governors of North Carolina's public universities, for example, is considering capping the proportion of tuition revenue that could be applied toward financial aid for low-income students, arguing that more affluent students shouldn't be forced to cover the costs of their less affluent classmates. Iowa has already stopped its universities from using any of their in-state residents' tuition toward financial aid.

Cuts in state allocations for higher education have also reduced the money available for financial aid for low-income students, said some other public universities, including the University of Arkansas.

"People who come from at-risk families are just as smart, just as talented as anyone else, and should have the same opportunities," the university's chancellor, G. David Gearhart, said at the time that he, too, signed the White House pledge. "A flagship, land-grant university should take this responsibility. It's a big obligation but it's one that is part of our heritage."

Yet the University of Arkansas raised its net price for the poorest families by 9 percent while lowering it 6 percent for wealthier ones between 2008-09 and 2012-13. The lopsided changes in cost there came even before the Arkansas State Lottery Scholarship was cut last year by more than 50 percent, said university spokeswoman Laura Jacobs, threatening to reduce even more funding reserved for low-income students.

"There's a glaring lack of political leadership around this in the states," said Michael McLendon, professor of higher-education policy at Southern Methodist University. Rather than need-based financial aid, McLendon said, "It's politically popular to invest a lot of state money in merit-based aid. It's very appealing to the middle class." But, he said, "It's not helpful for boosting higher-education access or completion for the poorest kids."

There's at least one glimmer of promise for critics of current aid practices. As the heat on this matter is being turned up, states, on average, slightly increased the share of financial aid they allocated for low-income students, as opposed to other students, in 2012-13, the latest year for which that figure is available, according to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs. On the other hand, the inflation-adjusted total amount of aid declined.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University, in collaboration with The Dallas Morning News and the Education Writers Association. Use courtesy of The Hechinger Report.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 AM | Permalink

Embrace Winter In The Forest Preserves!

Our new lineup of special winter events and programs has plenty to keep visitors warm and exploring the natural world.

If predictions turn out to be true, 2014-15 could be another big winter . . . or not. But no matter how much snow and cold we get, we invite you to stay active and keep learning all winter long with our great lineup of exciting winter events.

Of course, the preserves are also open from dawn to dusk for less structured winter activities, including hiking, cross-country skiing, sledding, ice fishing, ice skating and more. Learn more at fpdcc.com/recreation/winter.

All Forest Preserves events are family-friendly and free unless otherwise noted. For a complete list of winter events in the Forest Preserves of Cook County, including nature center programs not listed here, visit fpdcc.com/events.

MAJOR EVENTS

Family Night Out: Stars, Stories and S'mores
Thursday, December 4, 5 - 8 p.m.
Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter, 6350 W. Devon Ave., Chicago
Bring the family and enjoy an evening in the forest. We'll have a fire, storytelling, snacks and other nature activities.

Christmas Past
Sunday, December 7, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S. Paxton, South Holland
Visit our pioneer cabins as we celebrate this joyous time of year in a simpler way, with homemade toys, chestnuts roasting and popcorn popping in the open fire. Everyone is invited to make a craft to take home.

Winter Solstice Bonfire
Sunday, December 21, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, 9800 Willow Springs Rd., Willow Springs
Celebrate the shortest day of the year with a nature walk, bonfire and trimming of the wildlife tree. Family program; no organized groups, please. In-person registration required, starting 12/1. $3 per person.

Winter Breakout Adventures
Mondays, December 22 at Dan Ryan Woods & 29 at Thatcher Pavilion, Noon - 4 p.m.
Don't let the chilly winter bring you down - embrace your time off from school and head outdoors! Youth and families, join us for winter adventure and fun with activities like shelter building, GPS hikes, animal pelt stations and winter-themed games. Come for the day or just an hour. Call 708-771-1010 for details.

Happy Canoe Year
Thursday, January 1, 9 - 11 a.m.
Willow Road Dam, north of Forest Way and Willow Road, Winnetka
Experienced paddlers, bring your canoe or kayak and ring in the New Year by paddling down the Chicago River from Willow Road Dam to Linne Woods in Morton Grove. Shuttle runs 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. from Linne Woods (Dempster St and Ferris Ave) to Willow Road Dam.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
Monday, January 19, Noon - 3 p.m.
Dan Ryan Woods, 87th & Western, Chicago
Celebrate Dr. King's birthday with service and other activities. Learn about conservation, restoration and invasive species, and help us burn a brush pile.

Ski Fest
Saturday, January 24, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W. 111th St., Lemont
Celebrate cross-country skiing at Sagawau's winter wonderland. Experience our groomed trails at this slide-and-glide party for skiers of all levels. Fee for ski rental.

Darwin Celebration Days
Saturday & Sunday, February 7 & 8, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave., River Forest
Celebrate Charles Darwin's birthday! Join us as we explore adaptation, fitness, selection and survival through activities and displays. Drop-in program for all ages.

Surf the White Winter Wave
Saturday, February 21, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W. 111th St., Lemont
Join us for a Polynesian take on winter. After skiing the "frozen wave," relax and enjoy surfing videos and live updates on surf conditions from Oahu's North Shore. Dress Hawaiian and win a prize. Fee for ski rental.

OTHER EVENTS

Winter Wellness in the Woods (series)
Reap the benefits of exercising outside in nature. Instructor-led workouts will include a variety of winter-related activities. Learn how to dress for exercise in cold conditions. Call 708-771-1010 for details and to reserve a spot.

Saturday, December 13, 9 - 11 a.m.
Busse Woods North, Grove 2
Higgins Rd and Golf Rd (enter off east Higgins Rd), Elk Grove Village

Tuesday, January 20, 5 - 7 p.m.
Thatcher Woods
8030 W. Chicago Ave., River Forest

Tuesday, February 17, 7 - 9 a.m.
Dan Ryan Woods, Grove 5
87th and Western, Chicago

Winter Exploration Days (series)
Get outside and enjoy winter in your local preserves! This is a great opportunity for the whole family to enjoy snowshoe nature hikes, cross-country skiing and sledding (weather permitting). We'll also have winter arts and crafts, a camp fire and more. All ages.

Saturday, January 10, Noon - 4 p.m.
Thatcher Woods
8030 W Chicago Ave., River Forest

Saturday, Feb 14, Noon - 4 p.m.
Dan Ryan Woods
87th and Western, Chicago

AFTERSCHOOL OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
Calling outdoor adventurers ages 7 - 12! Meet up for wilderness skill building, hiking, exploring, nature-based art making and more. Space is limited, so call 708-771-1010 to reserve your spot.

Winter GPS Hunt
Wednesday, January 28, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter
6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago
It can be difficult to find your way around a bare winter forest. Learn about the benefits of a field GPS unit and how to use one. Then, test your new skills on a coordinate-based scavenger hunt.

Hiking Etiquette
Wednesday, February 25, 5 - 7 p.m.
Dan Ryan Pavilion, Grove 5
87th and Western, Chicago
Be a good trail user. Learn how to read a trail map, identify trailheads, then join us as we explore the trails of Dan Ryan Woods on a guided hike. Dress for the weather.

Photo Meet-Ups (series)
The Forest Preserves of Cook County hosts a series of photo meet-ups for photographers of all skill levels. Each month, one of our naturalists will lead a brief tour of a natural area, highlighting interesting plants, scenic vistas and locations frequented by wildlife. Capture images and share tips with fellow photographers. All cameras are suitable, from SLR to point-and-shoot to smart phone.

Saturday, December 27, 10 a.m.
Sand Ridge Nature Center
15891 Paxton Ave, South Holland

Saturday, January 24, 10 a.m.
Crabtree Nature Center
3 Stover Rd., Barrington Hills

Saturday, February 28, 10 a.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center
12545 W. 111th St., Lemont
RSVP to 630-257-2045

THIRD THURSDAYS (series)
This monthly series explores nature, art and more. Call 708-771-1373 for details.

Solstice Sunrise Celebration
Thursday, December 18, 6 - 8 a.m.
Cummings Square, 536 N. Harlem Ave., River Forest
Help us welcome the sunrise with a fire and live music as we approach the shortest day of the year.

Building Blocks of Nature
Thursday, January 15, 10 a.m. - Noon
Thatcher Woods Pavilion, 8030 W. Chicago Ave., River Forest
We'll bring our nature play indoors with shelter building, storybooks and animal artifacts.

DIY Creative Reuse Bird Feeders
Thursday, February 19, 1 - 3 p.m.
Thatcher Woods Pavilion, 8030 W. Chicago Ave., River Forest
Make DIY bird feeders out of recycled materials. We'll make an assortment of feeders and learn about using different foods to attract a variety of birds.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:47 AM | Permalink

December 2, 2014

Fantasy Fix: Playoff Push Possibilities

Many fantasy leagues starting their playoff schedule this week (Week 14 on the fantasy calendar). While you might think there is no way at this point to improve a team sitting on the playoff bubble enough to sneak into the championship round, you could very well be wrong.

In Week 13, and in recent weeks, we've seen a number of players trending upward at just the right time.

* Tre Mason, RB, STL: He's been on fire since taking over the starting job from Zac Stacy, but hit a new high in Week 13 with 117 yards rushing, 47 yards receiving and three TDs overall. True, it came against the hapless Oakland Raiders, but it was Mason's second 100-yards-plus rushing outing in the last three weeks. Only 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues as of Tuesday, though that must be changing by the hour.

* Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, HOU: Probably no more than a desperation play, but after his 358 yards passing and six TDs in Week 13, he demands to be noticed. With Ryan Mallet, the rookie QB who had replaced him, injured and out of his hair, Fitzpatrick is back running a run-heavy attack, but his next four weeks of match-ups - JAC, IND, BAL, JAC - look favorable for his skills as a passer, and his two talented deep threats, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Not surprisingly, he's only 9% owned.

* Isaiah Crowell, RB, CLE: Didn't have his best week in Week 13, with only 29 yards against the tough Buffalo rush defense, but the bigger news out of last week is that rookie Johnny Manziel took over at QB during that game and likely will start this week. Manziel moves much better than previous starter Brian Hoyer, and is a bigger threat as a passer, too, both of which should be good for giving Crowell more running room and potential to catch a few more passes in space. Crowell's just 67% owned, surprising after a two-TD Week 12 outing.

* Jarvis Landry, WR, MIA: Yet another rookie making a big splash in the second half. His season-high eight catches in Week 13 for 68 yards are making him look like the No. 1 receiver in Miami, rather than No. 2 to Mike Wallace. Landry scored twice in Week 12, and the Dolphins have been winning more with Landry involved. This week features a soft match-up against BAL. At 41% ownership, it's time to go get him.

Expert Wire
* SI.com looks at Johnny Football's prospects, along with other hot pick-ups.

* Sporting News has fantasy defense rankings for Week 14, with Dallas surprisingly only a two-star pick against the nothing-to-play-for Bears.

* The Talented Mr. Roto offers up his Week 14 rankings.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:45 PM | Permalink

The Thanksgiving Week/Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Mean Jeans at Livewire on Wednesday night.


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2. The Lemons at Livewire on Wednesday night.

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3. The Gizmos at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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4. Death To All at the Metro on Tuesday night.

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5. Animals as Leaders at the Metro on Wednesday night.

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6. Lydia Loveless at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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7. Lucinda Williams at the Vic on Friday night.

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8. Angel Olsen at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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9. Thee Oh Sees at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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10. Wiz Khalifa at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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11. Toupee at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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12. John Krautner at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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13. El Limon at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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14. Twista at the Double Door on Wednesday night.

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15. El Debarge at Promontory on Saturday night.

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16. Ace Frehley at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Saturday night.

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17. Jack Name at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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18. Vicious Attack at Reggies on Saturday night.

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19. WHUT? at Reggies on Saturday night.

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20. En Masse at Reggies on Saturday night.

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21. Air Raid at Reggies on Saturday night.

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22. Krooked Drivers at Schubas on Friday night.

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23. Old Shoe w/Chicago Farmer at Schubas on Wednesday night.

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24. The Acacia Strain at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

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25. Korn in Rosemont on Friday night.

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26. George Dalaras at the Harris Theater on Sunday night.

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27. Slipknot in Rosemont on Friday night.

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28. The Devin Townsend Project at the Metro on Wednesday night.

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29. Monuments at the Metro on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:57 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Cook County judges aren't throwing the book at people convicted of gun crimes, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis has found," Frank Main reported for the paper over the weekend.

Here we go again. I know what's coming, and it's gonna ruin my day.

One year in prison is the minimum sentence in Illinois for illegal possession of a gun. The maximum is three.

In Chicago, most people convicted of illegal gun possession are getting the minimum, one year, the Sun-Times analysis found.

For the more serious charge of being a felon in possession of a gun, the minimum sentence is two years in prison. The maximum is 10 years.

In Chicago, felons illegally possessing a gun typically get four years, the Sun-Times found - toward the low end of the state sentencing guidelines.

And those are the sentences judges hand out, not the actual prison time. Most people convicted of these gun crimes serve less than half of their prison terms because of "good time" that inmates can get credit for under state law, in addition to credit for time held in the Cook County Jail while awaiting trial.

New York, by comparison, has a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 1/2 years for simple gun possession.

NO. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!

Stop. Please. I'm begging you. Learn.

"The last time New York State's gun laws were tightened, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg rolled out a graphic reminder of what would happen to anyone caught carrying a loaded, illegal weapon," the New York Times reported last January.

"Guns = Prison," public service posters proclaimed categorically. In 2006, the mandatory prison sentence was increased to 3.5 years from 1 year.

Five years later, though, that equation seemed decidedly more equivocal. In 2011, the latest year for which sentencing statistics are available, fewer than half the defendants who had been arrested for illegal possession of a loaded gun in New York City received a state prison sentence, according to an analysis of criminal justice statistics by the mayor's office.

Let's repeat that: Fewer than half the defendants who had been arrested for illegal possession of a loaded gun in New York City received a state prison sentence.

If reporters are going to insist on citing New York City in their stories about Chicago's gun laws, they should be doing it in support of arguments against mandatory minimums, not in favor of them.

Clearly, they aren't working there, either, no matter what Rahm Emanuel, Garry McCarthy, Anita Alvarez and the Sun-Times want you to believe.

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"Prison time for gun crimes has become an increasingly politicized issue in Chicago," Main continues, "which remains in the national spotlight for gun violence, particularly murder. Even as the number of shooting deaths has fallen in Chicago in recent years, the city's murder rate is still far higher than in New York or Los Angeles."

That's true, but it's also misleading without context; a reader may reasonably think Main is saying Chicago has the highest murder rate in the country. That's far from the case.

Detroit, New Orleans, Newark, St. Louis and Baltimore, for example, have murder rates more than double that of Chicago.

In fact, Chicago's murder rate equals that of Tulsa.

That puts a bit of a different light on it, doesn't it? That's how your news gets shaped.

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"To gauge how Cook County judges treat illegal gun possession, the Sun-Times examined 100 randomly selected cases involving a charge of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, or UUW. That's the legal term for simple gun possession. The newspaper analyzed another 100 cases involving felons charged with gun possession."

Yeah, I'm not sure how sound that methodology is, but when you're on a campaign to push a particular side of a policy debate, like the Sun-Times has been with mandatory minimums, you'll use any method you can think of.

Among the findings:

* The median prison sentence given for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon was one year.

* The median sentence for the more serious charge of aggravated UUW by a felon was four years in prison.

Okay. What are we supposed to take from that?

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Supt. Garry McCarthy have argued that stiffer minimum sentences for gun possession are needed to help keep violent criminals off the streets."

Oh. Like in New York, where fewer than half the defendants who had been arrested for illegal possession of a loaded gun in New York City received a state prison sentence.

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"Emanuel pushed hard last year for the Illinois General Assembly to boost the minimum sentences for gun possession and to require anyone convicted to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.

"But the legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, failed in the face of opposition from African-American legislators and the National Rifle Association . . .

"Now running for re-election, Emanuel is no longer making a hard sell for stiffer gun sentences. That mantle has been picked up by Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who has taken the lead in pushing for a tougher stance on gun possession in the next legislative session."

Let's try again: "Now running for re-election, Emanuel is no longer making a hard sell for stiffer gun sentences because his approval ratings are abysmal, particularly among African Americans, whose votes he will need if he is to win another term in office. He would like black people to forget he wants to put more of their kids (who are disproportionately charged with gun crimes) in jail, and for longer bids."

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"But, in a bow to the power of the NRA, Alvarez won't seek to boost sentences for simple gun possession.

"The NRA opposition ostensibly should evaporate because we addressed their concerns by taking that off the table," said Dan Kirk, Alvarez's first assistant Cook County state's attorney.

Anita Alvarez (D-NRA).

"Alvarez supports raising the minimum sentence for felons in possession of guns, though, to three years in prison, up from the current two years. She also wants to require them to serve 85 percent of their sentences.

"In addition, Alvarez wants to raise the minimum sentence for gang members caught with guns to four years - up from three years - with the same 85 percent 'truth-in-sentencing' requirement.

"Kirk said those changes would save lives.

He pointed to the case of Derrick "Little Billy" Allmon, who's charged with murder in the Aug. 20 shooting death of 9-year-old Antonio Smith on the South Side.

Acording to prosecutors, Allmon, 19, and other members of the Sircon City Gangster Disciples were driving around looking to shoot members of rival gangs that day. They say Allmon was riding in a Buick trolling the area around Ashland and 71st Street, jumped out and shot Antonio six times, then threw his gun in a sewer and ran.

Prosecutors say Allmon told friends he "just hit a shorty," then went to a friend's house, tried to get rid of any gunshot residue and changed his shirt before returning home.

He was previously convicted of aggravated use of a weapon by a gang member. He was arrested in 2012, pleaded guilty on March 13, 2013 and was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. He was paroled on Aug. 1 this year - less than a month before Antonio Smith was killed.

"Under our proposal, if it passes, the next Derrick Allmon would serve 930 days, as opposed to 547," Kirk said. "The 9-year-old would still be alive."

How nice that Alvarez's office had a ready-made anecdote for Main and the Sun-Times. But an anecdote is not data. It's also not necessarily illustrative of anything larger than itself. There are plenty of ways other kinds of interventions could have changed the path of Derrick Allmon. Maybe tax breaks going to corporations redirected to schools could have changed Allmon's life. Or a job with a decent wage. Or investment in his neighborhood instead of projects like a new arena for DePaul and a vanity project for George Lucas. Perhaps a mental health clinic funded by the mayor instead of shut down could have made a difference. Who knows. One thing is certain, though: Nearly 40 years of social science research in criminology tells us that "tougher" mandatory minimums would not have made a difference. Unless you lock up Allmon - and a significant portion of the city's population - some other 9-year-old would have ended up dead. It was just a matter of timing.

And if we have to lock up that many people to protect the rest, maybe something else is wrong somewhere.

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"Fabio Valentini, chief of criminal prosecutions for Alvarez, said people can debate whether stiffer minimum sentences deter criminals from carrying guns. But there's no question, Valentini said, that stiffer sentences would keep criminals from committing crimes while locked up.

"The University of Chicago Crime Lab has looked at people sentenced to probation for gun possession in Cook County and found they are far more likely to kill someone than other felons are within a year of being released from prison. The researchers reached similar conclusions when they looked at gun cases in New York and New Orleans."

What Frank Main isn't telling you is that the Crime Lab's research on the subject, blindly ballyhooed by the Sun-Times when it was released, is the object of ridicule in the academic community.

More than 30 criminologists were moved to rebut the Crime Lab's specious findings, stating that "The evidence indicates, repeatedly, that mandatory minimum sentences will not reduce gun violence.

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John Maki is the executive director of the John Howard Association, a prison reform group.

"[Maki] said the Sun-Times findings show Cook County judges already are giving significant sentences to felons caught with guns - double the minimum two-year prison term.

"This largely undercuts the argument you hear coming from the Emanuel folks that judges are afraid to use prison on these gun offenders," Maki said. "These guys are getting a lot of prison time."

That would have been another way to write the story. But not the way the Sun-Times wanted.

For example, just read their next paragraph:

"The Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council studied tougher gun laws enacted between 2006 and 2012 and found the number of gun-possession charges in that period was virtually unchanged. Over the same period, a steady decrease in gun-related violence in Chicago mirrored national trends, according to the bipartisan council.

"'Because the data do not reflect a clear, causal relationship or a significant difference from national trends, it is not possible with this report's methods to conclude that the sentencing enhancements over the past 10 years have had a measurable effect on public safety,' the group said in a report on its findings that was released early this year."

So like every other piece of research, the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council found the basic premise of Rahm, McCarthy, Alvarez and the Sun-Times to be wrong. And we're just learning that in the 46th paragraph?

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"To bolster the argument for boosting minimum sentences for gun possession, McCarthy has nodded to New York, where he once was a top police official.

"In 2007, New York enacted a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years for illegal gun possession - one of the major reasons for New York City's huge decrease in gun violence over the past decade, according to McCarthy."

There is absolutely no evidence to support that claim.

Fewer than half the defendants who had been arrested for illegal possession of a loaded gun in New York City received a state prison sentence.

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The headline to this story was "Gun Shy: Lighter Sentences In Cook County Fuel Lock 'Em Up Debate."

Lighter than where?

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I'd call the story Fact Shy.

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How about a mandatory minimum of reporting?

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Dems Attack Illinois FOIA
Party of fakeparency.

Neon Chicago
Plus: A Subdivision's Story, Migraine Central & Billy Shakespeare. In Local Book Notes.

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BeachBook
A sampling.

* Leading The Charge.

"Katrina Adams is not a big fan of video games that keep kids on the couch when they should be outside playing sports, especially tennis. But she admits, 'As a kid, I used to love going to the arcade. I used to tell my parents I was working on my hand-eye coordination. It was probably just a way to get more quarters from them.'

These days, Adams' life sometimes seems like a game of Candy Crush, a constant juggling act as she works to achieve her life's goals, all of which, she says, include, 'making a difference in someone else's life.' This January, the 46-year-old Chicago native will be in a prime position to do just that as she takes the helm as the next USTA president."

* Green Bay Officials Dispel Packers Flushing Myth.

* Chicago Schools Lost $100 Million Letting Wall Street Engineer Finances.

* What's An Artist Doing At Fermilab?

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TweetWood
A sampllng.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Mandatory.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:23 AM | Permalink

Illinois FOIA Under Attack (Again)

A coalition of good government and media organizations joined Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan Monday in voicing strong opposition to a recently introduced measure in the Illinois General Assembly that would significantly weaken the state's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The measure, introduced last Tuesday, would expand the ability of a government body to withhold information from the public, and make it harder for citizens to use the legal system when a government body is violating transparency laws.

"At a time when we should all be working to increase transparency and accountability in government, this bill takes us backwards," said Attorney General Lisa Madigan. "This bill would make it significantly more difficult for members of the public to obtain government records, weakening the state's most important transparency law."

Groups opposing the bill include the Better Government Association, Citizen Advocacy Center, Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), ACLU of Illinois, Illinois Press Association and Illinois Broadcasters Association.

"Lawmakers should be fighting to expand, modernize and strengthen FOIA and make Illinois a model for the rest of the country," says Andy Shaw, CEO and President of the Better Government Association. "Unfortunately, this is moving in the wrong direction and it's important for legislators to get back on the right course."

The measure was introduced on Tuesday by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie as an amendment to an unrelated bill, Senate Bill 2799. The bill is being heard by the House Executive Committee today.

[Editor's Note: Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), you are Today's Worst Person in Illinois.]

"Transparency in government checks corruption, promotes fiscal responsibility and allows for greater, more meaningful participation in our democratic system," said Abe Scarr, Director of Illinois PIRG. "This bill moves Illinois in the wrong direction and should be rejected."

"Democracy is meaningless without a responsible, informed, and active citizenry. In turn, strong public record request laws are essential to inform of the public of government activity," said Maryam Judar, Executive Director of the Citizen Advocacy Center. "This bill distorts Illinois democracy by limiting people's access to information about their government activity. The House should not allow this provision to pass."

The bill makes three significant changes to the state's Freedom of Information Act:

  • When a government official publicly cites a report or study, the entire report is currently subject to public records requests. Under this bill, only the specific section cited would be open to disclosure. This limits the public's ability to see supporting documentation, methodology, and possibly conflicting findings in a document being cited in government decision making.
  • The bill would allow government bodies to withhold documents that are primarily factual so long as they include at least one recommendation.
  • The bill would significantly curtail a citizen's ability to win legal fees from a government body when they violate FOIA. This would significantly limit the public's ability to hold government bodies accountable when they illegally withhold public documents.

Combined, these changes would significantly limit information accessible to the public and make it easier for government bodies to skirt transparency laws.

This bill is the second of two anti-transparency bills moving in Springfield. Last week, the House voted to overturn Governor Quinn's veto of House Bill 3796, another bill that weakens the Illinois FOIA. Attorney General Madigan and good government groups are urging the Senate to uphold the veto.

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Also:

"The motive behind the proposed change is unknown," Amanda Vinicky reports for Illinois Public Radio.

"It's sponsor, Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, did not return a call seeking information; Currie is a chief lieutenant of House Speaker Michael Madigan."

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"The Illinois FOIA law, while stronger than it used to be, still isn't a model for open government," the Decatur Herald-Review notes.

"There are far too many exemptions and too many ways for governments to keep public records out of the hands of citizens. While many government officials are more than willing to make records open to the public, there are also plenty that seem to believe the public doesn't have any right to know how its money is spent.

"Secrecy is a breeding ground for government corruption, which should be reason enough on its own in Illinois to open up government.

"It's incorrect to assume that public access is solely a media issue - the majority of FOIA requests are filed by private citizens.

"The public deserves access to public records, with as few exemptions as possible."

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Democrats have as supermajority in the General Assembly. If they wanted to be the party of transparency, accountability and reform, they could not only reject these measures but enact a new Freedom of Information Act that actually frees information. Let's stop playing defense and start playing offense.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:22 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Neon Chicago & The Story Of A Subdivision

"Chicago's neon signs, glowing fixtures of the city's bars, theaters and shops, had their heyday in the '50s and '60s, but they've received fresh appreciation in recent years," Zoe Galland writes for Crain's.

"Many Chicagoans can probably think of a favorite neon sign already - perhaps the tall 'Jesus Saves' sign in Andersonville, or the glowing glass tubing atop Loop restaurant the Berghoff. In recent years, technology - especially photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Instagram - has made it easier for neon sign fans to share photos.

"St. Charles artist and photographer Nick Freeman is one of the enthusiasts. He's been photographing Chicago signs for 15 years, and in his new book, Good Old Neon: Signs You're in Chicago, he shows off shots of some famous - and many not-so-famous - neon signs."

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Here's Freeman talking to WGN Radio earlier this month.

Ground War
"Scott Strazzante thought he had a quick newspaper assignment photographing a farm in suburban Chicago. Instead, he spent the next 20 years documenting life there and on the suburban subdivision that replaced it," Evelyn Nieves writes for the New York Times.

"His new book, Common Ground (PSG), pairs an elderly couple's everyday routines on the farm with strikingly similar images of a young family in the starter-home development that replaced it. His project kind of happened, with plot twists and serendipity, much like life itself."

*

Strazzante was at the Daily Southtown when he got that assignment, and later joined the Tribune.

El Book
Former Tribune urban affairs reporter Patrick Reardon is "in the middle of writing a book about the history and importance of the elevated Loop in Chicago."

Migraine Central
"Women's complaints of pain have long been written off and attributed to sensationalism, hysteria, or simply just their weak-willed-lady-brains," the University of Chicago Press says.

"Nowhere is this more clear than with migraine. Migraine is an extraordinarily common, disabling, and painful disorder that affects over 36 million Americans and costs the US economy at least $32 billion per year.

"Nevertheless, it is frequently dismissed, ignored, and delegitimized. In Not Tonight, Joanna Kempner argues that this general dismissal of migraine can be traced back to its longstanding association with neurotic women.

"Pain. Vomiting. Hours and days spent lying in the dark. Because the symptoms that accompany headache disorders lack an objective marker of distress that can confirm their existence, doctors rely on the perceived moral character of their patients to gauge how serious their complaints are.

"Kempner shows how this problem plays out in the history of migraine, from nineteenth-century formulations of migraine as a disorder of upper-class intellectual men and hysterical women to the influential concept of 'migraine personality' in the 1940s, in which women with migraine were described as uptight neurotics who withheld sex, to contemporary depictions of people with highly sensitive 'migraine brains.'

"Not Tonight casts new light on how cultural beliefs about gender, pain, and the distinction between mind and body influence not only whose suffering we legitimate, but which remedies are marketed, how medicine is practiced, and how knowledge about disease is produced."

Paging Redmoon
"While preparing an exhibit on English-language literature last fall, staff members of the public library in Saint-Omer, near Calais, pulled what they thought was an unremarkable old book off the shelves," the History Channel says.

"Instead, it turned out to be a first folio of William Shakespeare's plays, of which only around 230 are known to exist. As no known manuscripts of his plays survive, the first folio has been credited with preserving much of Shakespeare's work, and has been called the most important book in the history of English literature.

"Edited by Shakespeare's friends and fellow actors John Heminges and Henry Condell, the first folio of the Bard's work was printed in a run of about 800 copies in 1623, seven years after his death. It contains 36 of Shakespeare's 38 plays, and is considered to be the only reliable text for half of his works, including Macbeth.

"First folios are among the world's most sought-after volumes, and Shakespeare aficionados track their whereabouts like bloodhounds. According to Rasmussen, a new one surfaces around every decade. Over the centuries, there have been some famous first folio disappearances: one went down with the doomed S.S. Arctic off Newfoundland in 1854, while another burned in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. More recently, a first folio sold at Sotheby's in 2006 for $5.2 million."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

December 1, 2014

SportsMonday: Hire Harbaugh Or Go Home

If Jim Harbaugh doesn't coach the San Francisco 49ers next season, he better be coaching the Bears.

If Niner chairman Jed York, the marital jackpot winner whose father-in-law owned the team when Joe Montana and Bill Walsh made it great, is too foolish to figure out a way to keep Harbaugh on as coach after a contentious 2014 season by the Bay, Bears chairman George McCaskey better not choke on bringing Harbaugh back to Chicago.

Just a quick review: Jim Harbaugh has led the 49ers to the last three conference championship games - three straight conference championship games! Coaches with this sort of record of success become available maybe once a decade. Maybe.

It couldn't be clearer that Marc Trestman has to go. General manager Phil Emery and even Ted Phillips (what is he, team president? I don't think that's his official title but it describes his role) should be given the boot as well. In fact, if there is a Jim Finks type out there, fire everyone, hire the Jim Finks type first as team president and then worry about the general manager and coach.

Finks, of course, was the guy brought in by George Halas in 1974 when old Papa Bear finally figured out he couldn't run things effectively anymore. Finks had spent the previous half dozen years building a Vikings organization that made regular appearances in the Super Bowl for a decade. He went on to build up the Saints before he retired and he was richly deserving when he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Finks used mostly draft picks to bring in the likes of Jim Covert, Dan Hampton and Keith Van Horne (especially in his early years on the job, he almost always took linemen in the first round) and many other future stars. A total of 19 of the team's 22 starters in Super Bowl XX were drafted by the guy who was obviously the most responsible for the Bears' glorious run of success in the 80s.

I don't think there is a Jim Finks type out there (certainly not one with the record of football managerial success Finks brought with him). One suggestion I heard over the weekend was former Bills and Colts executive Bill Polian. Unfortunately, Bill Polian was over the hill more than a decade ago. Oh, and he reportedly doesn't want the job.

So there's a good chance the best thing to do will be to hire as accomplished a head coach as you'll ever find and then work with him to set up the player evaluation hierarchy.

It seems more apparent all the time that Harbaugh is done in San Francisco after this season. There have been many reports that he and General Manager Trent Baalke can't seem to get along. Noted NFL gadfly Jay Glazer reported over the weekend that his sources are telling him the Niners will move on from Harbaugh after this season and try to get compensation from whatever other team then hires him.

There is always the chance that all of this is bullshit. There is the chance that the Niners are posturing in the midst of a tough negotiation with Harbaugh, whom they hope to pay slightly less than he might receive elsewhere. But other, lesser coaches have been worked around like this and other, lesser coaches have bowed out.

As a marital jackpot winner myself, I can't totally slam York. But he is like so many other "owners" of NFL franchises, like the Rooneys in Pittsburgh, the Maras in New York and what is the name of that family that owns the Bears again? York doesn't run the Niners because he worked his ass off, had spectacular success and amassed the riches that enabled him to buy a team. York runs the Niners because he found a way to woo the right woman; they got married and she gave him the keys to the kingdom.

York was inept during the first stretch of his chairmanship. But he struck gold with the hiring of Harbaugh (and he and the franchise benefited from a run of brutally bad seasons that gave the team high draft picks year after year). At the end of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons, Harbaugh led his team into NFC championship games.

Yes, they didn't win any Super Bowls during that stretch, but come on! Harbaugh kicks ass as a coach and if some people have sore backsides, well, I'm thinking that will be OK with a vast majority of Bears fans.

Apparently because Baalke has hit on a few draft picks, there are numerous people in the 49er hierarchy who think that if Baalke and Harbaugh are struggling to get along, Harbaugh must go. Morons, I know, but hey, stupider things seem to happen in the NFL every year. The initial Ray Rice suspension of two games springs to mind.

There is a chance the league will rule that a team hiring Harbaugh will have to send the Niners compensation. If that happens, the Bears will need to negotiate hard and then pay whatever compensation is required. When the Patriots hired Bill Belichick, the league ruled they had to compensate the Jets with a first-round pick. Last I checked, that decision was working out OK for the Patriots.

Hey George, this is your big chance. If you screw this up, it will be time for you to go as well. And I'm guessing there isn't another McCaskey in the pipeline who can even begin to pretend to have any sort of credentials to run an NFL team. In other words, it would be time for the family to sell.

And maybe even you would acknowledge that that's the way it should be. If ownership of a given team can't produce a winner decade after decade, it is time for new owners no matter how long a family has owned a team.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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