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« April 2016 | Main | June 2016 »

May 31, 2016

SportsMondayTuesday: Respecting The Streak

Now the bullpen isn't just good, it's perfect? Is there any limit to how well this Cubs team can play after Sunday's 2-0 victory over the Dodgers that featured starter Jason Hammel and four relievers combining to retire the last 25 batters in a row to up their record to an audacious 35-14?

It looked like the team might face some actual adversity at the start of the third inning when Hammel reported cramping in his hamstring. He has had similar issues with muscles in his legs before but usually not until later in seasons. So Hammel was out and the squad had to scramble and get Travis Wood off the clubhouse couch to pitch. Because he was replacing an injured teammate, Wood had unlimited time to warm up but still, the long reliever had been kicking back on the clubhouse couch before receiving the call.

So you thought perhaps it would take Wood a little while to get acclimated. And Joe Maddon thought he'd have Wood pitch for a maximum of two innings. And then all Wood did was throw 35 strikes in 43 total pitches over four innings of spotless relief. That's so ridiculous that our favorite word here at Beachwood Sports isn't ridiculous enough to describe it.

My favorite stat from Sunday's broadcast was the fact that in all of a season and a couple months with Maddon at the helm, the Cubs have now put together seven win streaks of six or more games. Crash Davis said it most memorably in Bull Durham: "Respect the streak." Oh by the way, I just went through a list of the memorable quotes from that film again and all I can say is that writer Ron Shelton is an absolute genius and Bull Durham is the greatest sports movie of all time by as much as the Cubs lead the Central.

I was watching another baseball game over the weekend (I will not be including specifics in order to protect the participants) and the pitcher for the team leading 3-0 was rolling. The game was going into the seventh inning and after struggling in the second inning, he had settled in to retire 12 straight.

But instead of allowing the pitcher's streak to simply continue unencumbered (i.e., not change anything), the manager of the leading team decided to hold a big meeting in front of the dugout before the seventh started. I guess he felt like he had to fire up the troops or something. Brutal.

And sure enough, the team with the lead failed to add to it in the top of the seventh and in the bottom, the pitcher got into trouble. With one out, the bases loaded and a run in, the hitter lofted a deep fly to center. The wind was blowing out so not only was the ball carrying but it was also dancing (pilots will tell you that the worst turbulence happens when the wind is right behind an airplane in flight).

The center fielder turned one way, then the other, then simply backpedaled furiously. And at the last instant he reached up and made the catch. The runner tagged and scored from third but the other two had to return to their bases. And the next hitter grounded out to end the game. But for that very fortuitous catch, the game would have been over with the other team on top, and all because the manager failed to respect the streak.

Of course it wasn't that simple but let's be clear about one thing: Joe Maddon would have never in a million years called that meeting. He would have allowed the game to continue without interruption, just like he allowed Travis Wood to pitch on well past what he had thought his limit would be.

The Cubs respect the streaks in all the ways that matter most. At least the manager does. There is always the chance that someone in upper management will screw things up but that seems awfully remote.

And so the team rolls on, winning with defense one day, pitching the next and having the offense come up big (like in the 9-8 victory in the decider against the Cardinals a week ago) when need be. The ride (the greatest sort of streak of all), continues.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. RealBadRealFast at the Mutiny on Friday night.


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2. El Segundo at Livewire on Saturday night.

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3. Julieta Venegas at the Concord on Friday night.

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4. The Flips at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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5. Mudcrutch at the Riv on Saturday night.

Gendron: "It took Tom Petty 46 years to bring his first band to Chicago, but he needed only a matter of minutes Saturday at a steamy Riviera to show a sold-out crowd that Mudcrutch is more than a novelty project. Performing with the quintet with which he started out in 1970 before it splintered and he signed a solo deal, the iconic front man treated the nearly two-hour concert as an egoless celebration of the merriment that comes from playing with longtime friends linked by common musical bonds - and first-rate chops."

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6. Lever at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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7. Sweet Cobra at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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8. Oops at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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9. The 1975 at Durty Nellie's in Palatine on Thursday night.

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10. Sebastian Bach at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles on Thursday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Mod Sun at Lincoln Hall last Tuesday night.

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Cobalt & the Hired Guns at Lincoln Hall last Wednesday night.

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Hatsune Miku at the Chicago Theatre last Wednesday night.

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Chelsea Wolfe at Thalia Hall a week ago Friday night.

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A Dead Forest Index at Thalia Hall a week ago Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:48 AM | Permalink

Steve Harvey Doesn't Want To Host Family Feud Anymore

"Has Steve Harvey lost his soul?" Super Deluxe wonders. "The Family Feud host has been having a hard time playing the game lately. His standard comedic outrage has been replaced with pure existential torture every time a contestant says something a little too hot for TV."

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Previously in Steve Harvey:
* Steve Harvey Is A Terrible Father.

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Plus:

* Steve Harvey Disproves Evolution:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

Naperville vs. Rickettsville

As you may remember, last week in the Cub Factor I mentioned that I was going to the game on Friday against the Phillies. And I did go and the Cubs won, because that's what they do. But something really struck me while I was down in Rickettsville. It was, Why bother?

They are rebuilding everything so much in and around the park that there is kind of no point. Wouldn't they just be so much better off building something brand new in Schaumburg or Naperville, or wherever else in the area? The behemoth parking garage is just a huge monstrous "thing" that takes up so much of the old look of the place, it's like, why go through the trouble?

I mean, it's huge, and only like 5% of the people going to the game are going to park there anyway. OK, I didn't really do the math, but it can't be that many fans, right?

And then there's nothing you can do about some of the park, like getting in by the old (looking) marquee, which has fans waiting in line at the metal detectors and pouring into the street to do so. Yeah, that's safe.

And then once you get in it's the same thing people have been saying for a couple years now with the expanded bleachers, enormous scoreboard and whatnot. I'm really trying to get away from being the old man telling you kids to keep getting off my lawn, but I guess that's just who I am these days. And full disclosure, I hate mowing the lawn and it is not even close to my thing.

I do have to admit my buddy Kevin and I ran into a guy with a heavy Boston accent talking about his first walk up the stairs earlier that day and seeing Wrigley Field for the first time. The guy was close to tearing up just describing it.

We guessed his name was Sully and/or Murphy. (Maybe it was Sullivan Murphy?) So yeah, the park still has a fantastic nostalgic "it" factor, but sheesh, I'm waiting for the troughs to have a sponsor.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 6-1 for the week (and a day) and have won the last six in a row. So, yeah, so much for the slump. The Cubs will finish the month of May at 20 games over .500 regardless of what happens on Tuesday. So, we are back in the "The last time a team . . . " area for the Cubs. They are in rarified regular season air. Let's all take a good whiff.

Week in Preview: The boys in blue stay home for the rest of the week with three more against the Dodgers and a weekend set with the D-backs. Somehow the Cubs play the Dodgers four times and don't see Clayton Kershaw. The dream season keeps rolling, I guess.

Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. Jorge Soler continues to play like a major leaguer and had five starts in left this week. Szczur got one start and Kris Bryant got one as well in left. Soler even hit a homer off the scoreboard in left during the game I was at. I'd like to think he knew I was there and wanted me to shut the hell up. So I will. Solid week, Jorge. Four hits and four walks in 15 AB's, that'll do.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: I have to admit that I thought the Cubs signing Shane Victorino in the offseason was a solid idea. And it seems like the Cubs thought it was a solid idea to, if you listen to why they say as he is leaving. So it is annoying to me that he is now a former Cub. Seems to me there were other options on the roster to work with (see below). So Shane can't really be missed because we never really had him. But I miss the idea of him.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: Yeah, I'm still on the Tim Federowicz train. He's like the David Ross of the last couple years without the "fun old guy" stuff and "Lester whisperer" status. Ross, on the other hand, this season has looked better than capable both at the dish and behind the plate - and the Lester whispering seems to be working as well. So yeah, Tim, either get a gimmick or start hitting.

Mad(don) Scientist: You aren't going to make Big Poppa Joe sweat when you use "lasers" to mark your defensive positions.

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the Cubs-Diamondbacks game on Sunday will receive a Cubs Laundry Hamper depicting Clark the Cub. You'll have to put your dirty pants in a different hamper, because well, you know.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Schaumburg might have been better than Rickettsville.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

Why We React Differently To Terror Attacks Depending On Where They Happen

Terrorism is a threat everywhere. According to a Foreign Policy report, the worst terrorist events in 2015 occurred in Cameroon, Egypt, Iraq, Kenya, Nigeria, Syria and Yemen. This year has followed in step, with terrorist attacks occurring in locations as diverse as Belgium, Pakistan and Turkey.

Although most of these attacks led to injuries and fatalities, some writers have decried double standards in the media reporting and have highlighted the "seemingly differing public reaction to bombs in Belgium and attacks in Turkey."

The nature and prominence of the way the media covers terrorist attacks is a good way to judge the public's reaction - is the story on the front page or is it hidden away on page 13?

terrorism.jpgEPA/Sedat Suna

But there are a range of other public responses - such as the solidarity rally of world leaders following the Paris attacks, flying official flags at half-mast on governmental buildings and lighting up landmark monuments in the colors of the national flag of the afflicted country.

Activity on social media, such as using Twitter hashtags and changing Facebook profile pictures to show solidarity is another potent indicator of the public's response.

But all of the above indicators have to be approached with a degree of caution. Assessing the public response to an outrage by monitoring social media, for example, raises questions of computer accessibility. Not only that, but not everyone necessarily perceives social media as the appropriate medium for public expressions of solidarity.

Seeking Common Ground

With respect to the seemingly differing Western public responses to terrorist events across the globe, several factors may play a role, including the spread and availability of journalists. Others have suggested a racist narrative.

Will Gore, writing in The Independent about the attacks in Brussels in March, concluded that there is a "fundamentally racist narrative at play . . . we value white European lives more than those of dark-skinned people beyond Europe's borders."

But another factor is the common cultural and historical heritage of the West which may appear heightened in times of adversity. As an article in the Atlantic suggested: "Americans are much more likely to have been to Paris than to Beirut - or to Cairo, or to Nairobi, or to any number of cities that have experienced bloody attacks. If they haven't traveled to the French capital themselves, they've likely seen a hundred movies and TV shows that take place there, and can reel off the names of landmarks. Paris in particular is a symbol of a sort of high culture."

For Americans, read most audiences in the West.

paris.jpg For a few days the whole world was Paris. EPA/Various photographers

By contrast, writing in the aftermath of the Ankara terrorist attacks, Turkey-based journalist Liz Cookman notes that the country "continues to teeter on the line between East and West, making it hard to understand - a Muslim country with increasingly conservative values that also has its sights set on the EU."

'Otherness'

This lack of understanding of non-Western countries may in part, as Cookman suggests, be down to ignorance. But it may also be related to what Edward Said refers to as "Otherness."

Said argues that Westerners imagine the Orient as an exotic and strange place and describe it in stereotypical and mythical ways which serve to accentuate and reinforce the Orient's difference from the West.

The Economist found that, in the period 2000 to 2014, most of the deaths from terrorist events occurred in the Middle East and Africa - not the West.

Indeed, according to Foreign Policy, in 2015, the most devastating terrorist attacks took place in Nigeria (with death tolls that ranged from 150 to 2,000) and Egypt (with a death toll of 224).

However, Western public responses to such events may appear more muted, perhaps because of an emphasis on the Otherness of non-Western countries, which enables Westerners to more readily accept a lower standard of protection in those countries.

While in the West, terrorist attacks such as the ones we witnessed in Paris and Brussels are shocking and unthinkable, in "other" parts of the world - from a Western point of view - they are, sadly, a fact of life.

This notion of the "Other" may, to some extent, also emerge in Middle Eastern reporting of terrorist attacks. According to a review of the Middle East press on the Paris attacks, "within the overall rejection [of the terrorists' violence] that dominated the papers' front pages, a small number of papers raised questions about Western governments' policies in the world." These papers saw a Western role in "feeding terrorism" and that such attacks took place after "a wave of Islamophobia has emerged in France's neighbor, Germany."

But most of the coverage of the Paris attacks in the Middle East was filled with sympathy and concern. Al-Arabiya English, based in Dubai, carried a comprehensive roll call of Middle East and Gulf leaders condemning the attacks and offering condolences and support. Meanwhile, Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News offered strong analysis and opinion in the days following the atrocity, taking the line that: "This is no longer a fight within the boundaries of the Middle East and Mesopotamia" and calling for a concerted strategy to fight IS.

So for the Middle East press, the West can be the "Other" - and, perhaps, not without justification. But what is also clear is that, perhaps because of their tragic familiarity with terrorism, people in the Middle East and Africa are more generous with their responses to terrorism in the West.

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Aldo Zammit Borda is a senior lecturer in international law at Anglia Ruskin University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:18 AM | Permalink

Goodwill Haul: The World's Ugliest - Or Coolest - Chicago Sports TV Tray

Great art or a piece of crap? Made by child or adult? This nerdy dad can't decide!


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See also: The Nerdy Dad Blog YouTube Channel.

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And, he should've kept that cool-ass wagon wheel table:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:29 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"With a trial just minutes away, the Emanuel administration announced a $2 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by two Chicago police officers who alleged they were blackballed by the department for blowing the whistle on corruption, keeping the mayor from having to testify about the code of silence," the Tribune reports.

"The explosive civil rights lawsuit filed by Officers Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria against the city and top department brass had threatened to expose an ugly side to the police code of silence that allegedly put at risk the lives of cops willing to uncover corruption within their ranks.

"The city's top attorney, Corporation Counsel Steven Patton, said the decision to settle the case had nothing to do with the fact that the judge had ordered Mayor Rahm Emanuel to testify about what he knew about the code of silence in light of his acknowledgment of its existence in a highly publicized speech to the City Council days after the court-ordered release of the video of the Laquan McDonald shooting."

Maybe, maybe not, but it is undeniable that Patton had no interest in seeing his patron on the stand.

Eleven days ago:

"In an unprecedented move, city attorneys on Friday offered to admit to a federal jury that a code of silence exists in the Chicago Police Department if it meant Mayor Rahm Emanuel would not have to testify about it at the upcoming trial involving two whistleblower cops."

That's what this was all about - Rahm opened his big yap and a legally actionable statement fell out. Ironically, Rahm was actually telling the truth this time, but the city had no interest in making good on its transparency promises by letting the plaintiffs' tale be told in court. They get a settlement and we get silence.

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"Patton told reporters the settlement was hammered out over the weekend after attorneys for the officers approached them with a settlement offer that was 'substantially lower' than what they had previously demanded. The payout, which needs to be approved by the City Council, includes about $1 million in legal fees, so each officer would wind up splitting about $500,000, he said."

Something told the plaintiffs the city would be amenable to such a deal.

*

"[Officers] Spalding and Echeverria had just arrived at the courthouse when they got the news. Both said the last-minute settlement came as a surprise to them."

Meaning they weren't told of it before then or that they were surprised the city agreed to terms?

*

"Moments later, the two held hands as their lawyer announced the $2 million deal to a horde of reporters in the courthouse lobby.

"Spalding wiped tears from her eyes as she explained how she hoped the publicity surrounding their story would help other police officers make the decision to come forward."

Going to trial would have served that goal much better than settling, but hey, money is the ultimate code of silence.

*

*

*

Speaking at the City Club today:

That sounds good, but it isn't up to Johnson to impose shit - at least the way the disciplinary process is currently structured. All he can do is accept or reject the recommendations sent to him by the Independent Police Review Authority or the Internal Affairs Division. Then, if the recommendation is for termination or a suspension of at least 30 days, the police chief sends it along to the Police Board, which makes the ultimate decision. Now, theoretically, Johnson could reject a disciplinary recommendation and ask for harsher penalties, but I'm not sure if that's ever happened in the history of the CPD, and I certainly wouldn't expect it to happen under a police chief who has said he's never seen misconduct in his 27 years on the force. If he had been the chief for all 27 of those years, he wouldn't have imposed severe penalties yet!

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"[L]awyers for the two officers say Internal Affairs Chief Juan Rivera blew their cover," the Sun-Times reports.

"Spalding and Echeverria were branded 'rat motherfuckers' and told that their bosses didn't want them in their units. They were allegedly told their careers were over. Their actions allegedly made the brass so angry that Spalding was warned to 'wear her vest' so she wouldn't be shot in the parking lot for crossing the thin blue line."

And from the Tribune last month:

[Spalding and Echeverria] alleged Cmdr. James O'Grady, who headed the department's narcotics division, was infuriated when he learned they had ratted out their fellow officers and refused to allow them to return to the unit when their work with the FBI was complete.

O'Grady has denied the allegations. In a court filing, his lawyers said he had opposed the officers' return to narcotics because Spalding was difficult to work with and supervise.

In June 2012, the officers met at police headquarters with then-Cmdr. Joseph Salemme and several other supervisors to discuss their removal from the U.S. Marshals task force team to a new nighttime assignment on the other side of the city. During the meeting, Salemme told them they had "brought this baggage" on themselves, the lawsuit alleged.

"If you go against sworn personnel, you know this will happen," Salemme told them, according to the suit.

Back to today's Sun-Times:

"[L]awyers also wanted to bring up at trial the botched investigation into the 2004 death of David Koschman. Cmdr. Joseph Salemme, a defendant in the lawsuit, played a role in the Koschman case. Koschman died after he was punched by former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew, Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko."

*

I didn't find anything in the archives to indicate whether any of the defendants were investigated by IPRA for any of the allegations in this case - it's possible they weren't if no one filed a complaint with the agency. But as I understand it, IPRA must review all cases involving settlements, so they will be looked at now.

"Patton said the city wants to encourage such whistleblowing, not discourage it - and, he said, 'there was no dispute that the employment actions that they complained about actually occurred' - though, he noted, all the alleged retaliation all took place before Emanuel took office."

Back at the law department, they're slapping Patton on the back for nudging this talking point into publication, implying to the public that it's been a new day under Rahm Emanuel, as if.

*

It wasn't about you for four years, but somehow you made it about you in the end.

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Naperville vs. Rickettsville
"Wrigley Field still has a nostalgic 'it' factor, but sheesh, I'm waiting for the troughs to have a sponsor," writes our very own Marty Gangler in this week's gem-filled Cub Factor.

The Coolest (Or Ugliest) Chicago Sports TV Tray
Great art or a piece of crap? Made by child or adult? This nerdy dad can't decide!

Here Are The Ugly Facts
Don "D.B." Cooper is MIA, our very own Roger Wallenstein writes in this week's White Sox Report.

Too Much Tallywacker
Steve Harvey Doesn't Want To Host Family Feud Anymore.

SportsMondayTuesday: Respecting The Streak
Joe Maddon wearing lingerie right now.

Why We React Differently To Terror Attacks . . .
. . . Depending On Where They Happen.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: RealBadRealFast, El Segundo, Julieta Venegas, The Flips, Mudcrutch, Lever, Sweet Cobra, Oops, The 1975, Sebastian Bach, Mod Sun, Cobalt & the Hired Guns, Hatsune Miku, Chelsea Wolfe, and A Dead Forest Index.

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BeachBook

Check Out This Nuts 1977 Channel 5 Promo.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: The harp unstrung.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

May 30, 2016

Here Are The Ugly Facts

Memorial Day Weekend. Honor our veterans. The beginning of summer. A three-day break. The beaches are open. Temperatures in the 80s. Burgers on the grill. Cold beer in the fridge. How could the Sox screw this up?

But they did in a fashion so unexplainable and surreal that the baseball history buffs will have to scour the Internet to discover when it was this alarming in the past.

If you weren't paying attention, I applaud you. The weekend offered many other diversions. But in case you missed it, the Sox bullpen managed to squander three consecutive late-inning leads against the undermanned Kansas City Royals, who, because of injuries and mediocre starting pitching, look like a shell of the team that won last fall's World Series.

The Sox led 5-1 Friday night - thanks to a grand slam by Melky Cabrera and a solo shot by Todd Frazier - going into the bottom of the sixth and wound up losing 7-5.

Saturday was the monumental meltdown as David Robertson, who hadn't pitched in five days, was summoned by manager Robin Ventura to start the ninth inning with the Sox in command at 7-1. You know, give the guy a little work.

After getting the first out, Robertson and Tommy Kahnle gave up seven runs, six hits, four walks, and a wild pitch as the Royals won 8-7 on a walk-off single by Brett Eibner, who had had a total of seven big league at-bats before his part in the heroics.

Then on Sunday, Chris Sale pitched effectively for seven innings, exiting with a 4-2 lead. Enter Nate Jones, who got the first out in the eighth before Lorenzo Cain homered and Eric Hosmer doubled down the left field line. Two walks and a single later Jones was toast in favor of Matt Albers, who was touched for an infield hit that scored the lead run before Albers walked another hitter and finally retired the side as the Royals took a 5-4 lead.

Royals closer Wade Davis gave a brilliant example for the Sox relievers, retiring the side in the ninth on a flyout, groundout and strikeout. I hope the fellas were taking notes.

So here are the ugly facts. The Royals enjoyed a 15-1 advantage in innings seven, eight and nine during the weekend sweep. In five decisive innings - seven through nine on Friday, the ninth on Saturday, and the eighth on Sunday - Sox relievers were called upon to cover 3 1/3 innings, in which they gave up 15 hits, 15 earned runs, and eight walks, while only striking out three. If you're keeping score at home, that's an ERA of 40.54.

And look here. Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas is out for the season after tearing an ACL in a collision with left fielder Alex Gordon a week ago Sunday at The Cell, when the White Sox managed a 3-2 victory, one of just four in their last 18 games. Gordon also is out with a broken hand, while catcher Salvador Perez was injured Saturday when Cheslor Cuthbert, subbing for Moustakas, ran into him on a routine pop-up in the eighth inning. Perez will miss about 10 days.

Lest we place all this carnage on the bullpen, let's look at the Sox three starters in the weekend series. Miguel Gonzalez, Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale pitched a total of 18 1/3 innings, in which the Royals scored just six runs, for an ERA of 2.95. The Sox trio fanned 15 and walked four. All departed with a lead. So, yes, these losses rest squarely in the shoulders of a bullpen that was the American League's best in the month of April.

In his pre-game comments on Sunday, Sox broadcaster Steve Stone reminded us of the bullpen's success just a month ago. If fellas like Albers, Jones, Zach Duke, Dan Jennings and Robertson were so effective in April, why shouldn't they re-discover their effectiveness from this point forward? That argument is a tough sell after what we saw in Kansas City.

The guy who has been conspicuously quiet the past few days is pitching coach Don Cooper. I'm not regularly listening to sports radio or looking for fan reaction on the Internet, but I do know that Robin Ventura absorbs criticism - lots of it justified - for a variety of faults, and batting coach Todd Steverson is cited when Sox hitters falter. Meanwhile, the Sox bullpen might be more effective with a group of high school pitchers than it has been since blowing an eighth-inning 11-6 lead to Texas back on May 10, a game that really marked the beginning of this tailspin.

So what's up, Coop? What can you do to turn these guys around? There doesn't appear to be any help coming from the farm system. You think bringing back Daniel Webb, Erik Johnson or Scott Carroll will bolster the bullpen? See what I mean?

Barring a trade, the Sox are stuck with the personnel they have as far as relievers are concerned. They basically have to escape the funk they're in. If not, let's be thankful that the Twins will still finish last, absolving the Sox of that distinction.

Before traveling to Kansas City, the Sox dropped three-of-four to Cleveland, another Central Division foe. After edging the Indians 7-6 in the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday, the Sox scored a total of six runs in the next three losses. So you couldn't blame the bullpen for those defeats.

The Sox haven't won a series since sweeping the lowly Twins the first weekend of May, and that came after they dropped two-of-three to the Red Sox at home. As you read this - you should be commended for getting this far - the Sox are in New York for a three-game series against the pitching-rich Mets before going to Detroit for a weekend series with the Tigers, who must be licking their chops at the prospect of facing the Sox bullpen.

If you're interested in consolation, the ballclub, despite six straight losses, remains three games over .500. Look back to 1983 when the Sox were 24-27 after 51 games. That team wound up winning 99. Playoff teams in 2000 (29-22) and 2008 (28-23) had comparable records to this season's club.

However, those teams resembled the ballclub that was 23-10 this season when things looked bright and rosy. Right now most Sox fans can't envision Ventura's outfit rebounding to play that kind of winning baseball. But who thought the Sox would get beat Saturday with David Robertson protecting a 7-1 ninth inning lead?

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:28 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2016

The [Memorial Day 2016] Weekend Desk Report

1. Coke Joins Brands Trying To Out-America Each Other With Packaging.

Nobody is beating Trump at this game, though.

2. Facebook To Serve Ads To Non-Users Through Its Audience Network.

I'm getting one now - on my Coke can.

3. How Midcentury Suburbia Made People Sick.

Late century, too. And now, early century.

4. Boeing Is No Longer The No. 1 Public Company In Chicago.

The company that did this is.

5. From our very own Helene Smith's "America, Summer 2016" series, Part 1A. We're planning three parts in all.

watermelonguy.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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Triggering Chicago's Panic Meter
On The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #104.

Break emergency glass on one side of town, not so much the other. Plus: Save The Intentional Walk!; Bulls In Quicksand; Golden Slumbers; Blackhawks Sign A Bunch Of Guys We Don't Care About; Bad Man Still Owns Chicago Fire; Chicago Sky Falling Already; Illinois Finally Tops Baylor; and The NFL Is Its Own Organized Crime Family.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Bob Dylan, one of the most iconic American artists of the 20th century, just turned 75 this May. Jim and Greg examine the extraordinary career of the music legend in the first of a two-part series. This week, they explore Dylan's folk days to the moment he went electric."

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I have argued for years that Dylan is the greatest artist who's ever lived. Who else? Shakespeare? Da Vinci? Dylan. Not everyone understands the depth, breadth and reach of his art.

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Remember.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:28 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #104: Triggering Chicago's Panic Meter

Warranted on the other side of town. Plus: Save The Intentional Walk!; Bulls In Quicksand; Golden Slumbers; Blackhawks Sign A Bunch Of Guys We Don't Care About; Bad Man Still Owns Chicago Fire; Chicago Sky Falling Already; Illinois Finally Tops Baylor; and The NFL Is Its Own Organized Crime Family.


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SHOW NOTES

* KISS-FM 103-5: Chicago's #1 Hit Music Station.

1:20: The Panic Meter.

* The Overreaction.

* The Overreaction to the Overreaction.

* David Haugh out of his element.

* The Cubs have more elements than the periodic table.

* We thank Neil Ramirez for his service.

* "If I can get our guys to understand one game at a time, I'll be very happy." - Joe Maddon, from Haugh's column.

13:27: Where Panic Is Warranted.

* In any game managed by Robin Ventura.

* Coffman's Concern Meter.

* Mark Buehrle Watch.

26:10: Save The Intentional Walk!

* One of the game's great dramas!

* Joe Maddon: "When it comes down to the game itself, I'm not so pent up on moments like that, however many seconds that takes to get that done."

* Fangraphs: On The Shrinking Strike Zone And Lengthening Games.

* Unsettling Perfection In A League Of Robot Umpires.

* Replays vs. Rhubarbs. (It was our very own Roger Wallenstein who wrote the column I was thinking about, not Coffman.)

* How Instant Replays Change Professional Tennis.

38:24: Bulls In Quicksand.

* There is no there there.

* Cowley: Joakim Noah Has Told Teammates He's Done With The Bulls.

* Friedell: Source Says Joakim Noah-Bulls Talks Continue As Report Says He's Ready To Exit. Cites a "league source," which sounds like Bulls management to me, though I suppose Noah's agent could be called a "league source" in a stretch.

* Johnson: Trading Derrick Rose Or Jimmy Butler Should Be Bulls' Offseason Priority.

* I mis-inferred. Carmelo Anthony chose the money and New York instead of, purportedly to parochial Bulls pundits, a chance to win and Chicago.

* Sam Hinkie's departure letter.

* The Fallacy Of How The Cubs Were Built.

52:21: Golden Slumbers.

* Golden Thunder.

* Cavs, Raptors.

55:18: Sharks vs. Penguins.

* State of Play in the Bay.

58:00: Illinois > Baylor.

1:01:40: Blackhawks Sign A Bunch Of Guys We Don't Care About.

1:01:46: Chicago Fire Still Owned By Bad Man.

1:02:01 Chicago Sky Already Falling.

1:02:18 NFL Tried To Fix Concussion Study.

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STOPPAGE: 4:44

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:22 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Jim Cramer is a showman with a crappy track record, but he's Wall Street's showman so it's noteworthy that he just put Michael Ferro on his Wall of Shame with this takedown:


Jack Sprat
Former Tribune CEO Jack Griffin, who brought Ferro into the company only to have Ferro fire him through a boardroom coup engineered behind his back, has a new gig as a senior advisor in an investment banking firm.

The View From L.A.
"If you want to know why things are so messy today, then consider what has happened since the year 2000, when the offspring of the Chandler family made the fateful decision to sell a controlling interest in the venerable Los Angeles Times to a business from Al Capone's city," Jon Regardie writes for the Los Angeles Downtown News.

"The line of 'leaders' at Tribune Company and the spun-off Tribune Publishing is enough to make grown reporters cry. The most notorious was Sam Zell, whose nickname is the Grave Dancer (I swear that's true), and whose Tribune strategy seemed to be built on layoffs and declaring corporate bankruptcy. In 2014 Jack Griffin arrived, holding court as the TPUB stock swan-dived from about $25 a share to below $7. Now there's Ferro. This is the equivalent of taking the James Bond franchise, and casting as 007 first Pauly Shore, then Yakov Smirnov, and finally Adam Sandler."

The Long Game
Gannett will be back in a year after Ferro has done to Tribune what he did to the Sun-Times.

Moving Dearborn
"Optics count in contentious takeover battles. And Tribune Publishing's decision to give its CEO a large relocation deal is not a good look," Brooke Sutherland writes for Bloomberg.

"Just days after rebuffing a 99 percent premium from suitor Gannett, Tribune disclosed on Thursday that it's going to pay Justin Dearborn $262,000 to move to Los Angeles. I mean, I know those tech folks are driving up the cost of living out in California, but come on."

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Dearborn is already a wealthy man. He doesn't need to soak a financially struggling company for gold-plated moving expenses.

To wit:

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Back to Sutherland/Bloomberg:

"Dearborn's relocation package works out at about five times the median yearly U.S. household income. It's about double the typical amount for executives, when looking on an annual basis, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index."

You'd think they could use some of Patrick Soon-Shiong's new technology just to beam Dearborn there.

Arrival Gate
"This is the opportunity to actually transform this newspaper world into this next generation for this next millennium who wants to see the information on any device, any time, all the time," Soon-Shiong said in an interview with CNBC's Power Lunch.

Like Ferro's notion of placing syndicated widgets of Tribune material across its properties, tuned by reader data provided to advertisers, this his hardly a new idea. In fact, it's so old it's boring. It's also not a strategy. Sad!

"The whole concept of creating a national footprint and taking a whole new model, where you integrate through fiber infrastructure and through cloud computing and you centralize a news network but actually take local news and bring it in on a daily real-time basis, I don't think that has really been tried on a newspaper level across this nation," said Soon-Shiong.

I'm not entirely certain what that means, but creating a national footprint was Tribune Company's original sin - it acquired Times-Mirror because it thought that adding the Los Angeles Times and New York's Newsday would prove irresistible to national advertisers, whom, it turned out, were not interested.

In another more ironic sense, Gannett is the company that has been building a national footprint of its own by seeding each of its local newspapers with content from USA Today - no machine vision needed!

Shareholder Of The Day
Each day seemingly brings a new institutional shareholder who wants to see Tribune make a deal with Gannett. Now we hear from a Gannett shareholder obviously eager for a deal.

"Gannett . . . may end up wearing down Tribune's resistance and getting a better price for the company down the line, [Cole Smead] says," the Seattle Times reports.

"'You have quite a few shareholders, like us, who are interested' in the deal going through, said Smead, who helps oversee the company's investments. The firm holds about 5.2 percent of Gannett's stock, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. 'We don't think Tribune has a hope' of thriving on its own."

Frank admission about Gannett, though: "They didn't always run their businesses well."

Dear Chicago
"Would you kindly remove your thick, stubby hands from my beautiful state?" writes Joe Mathews at SFGate.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: America 2016, Part 1
Memorial Day weekend at a Meijer's in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Continuing The Sanders Revolution
"If Bernie wins the Democratic nomination, it will proceed with great advantage. It should proceed even if he does not. Here's how."

Why Do Only Some People Get 'Skin Orgasms' From Music?
Just lucky, I guess.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Eagles of Death Metal, The Kills, Trashcan Sinatras, VLK, Young Thug, Lil Yachty, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Frisbie, The Sadies, and Waco Brothers.

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BeachBook

Sharing Real Life, Made Real Here.

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Walgreens Was Too Scared To Vet Theranos.

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Bank Of America's Winning Excuse: We Didn't Mean To.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Busy working on his next Op-Ed.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Machine vision.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Eagles of Death Metal at the Metro on Wednesday night.

Gendron: No '70s-Era Rock 'N' Roll Cliche Remained Safe.

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2. The Kills at the Riv on Monday night.

Kot: The Kills Are Back, Refreshed And More Playful.

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3. Trashcan Sinatras at SPACE in Evanston on Wednesday night.

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4. VLK at Reggies on Tuesday night.

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5. Young Thug at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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6. Lil Yachty at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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7. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus at Wire in Berwyn on Thursday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Frisbie at SPACE in Evanston a week ago Thursday.

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At The Drive-In at the Riv last Friday night.

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The Sadies at Wire in Berwyn last Saturday night.

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Waco Brothers at Wire in Berwyn last Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:05 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 1

Memorial Day weekend at the Meijer's in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

memorialdaycakes.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:37 AM | Permalink

May 26, 2016

Continuing The Political Revolution

Bernie Sanders faces a dilemma: how to keep the political revolution he has launched alive and well if he loses the Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton faces an equally problematic dilemma if she wins the nomination: how to win over Bernie's supporters in order to defeat Donald Trump, a particular challenge given some polls suggesting that up to a quarter of Bernie supporters say they will not vote for Hillary. Meanwhile Trump is boasting, "I'm gonna get Bernie people to vote [for me], because they like me on trade."

These intertwined dilemmas may have a common solution if Hillary is willing to truly embrace some of Bernie's key proposals and organizational activities - above all meaningful wide ranging campaign finance reform - and Bernie is willing to help create and lead a Progressive Independents Coalition, allied with but separate from the Democratic Party, that could endorse Hillary and help mobilize opposition to Trump. This new coalition would help to identify, recruit and endorse candidates at federal, state and local levels, and run its own advertising campaigns on their behalf, helping to create a new wave of progressive officeholders. Over the longer term, grassroots-financed think tanks loyal to the vision of America that Bernie has articulated would combat the benighted ideas of corporate-financed think tanks.

Already, new Bernie-inspired organizations have emerged, such as the campaign for a Brand New Congress, focusing on the 2018 elections and beyond, and a gathering scheduled to take place in Chicago from June 17 - 19 calling itself the People's Summit. Such hopeful beginnings need Bernie's support and leadership; they need to be made part of a broader endeavor that explicitly seeks to include unhappy Republicans and independents as well as members of progressive-leaning organizations such as the Green Party, Working Families Party, Democratic Socialists of America, and many others. Members of parties and organizations would not have to leave their other affiliations to be part of the new coalition; nor would they have to agree on everything.

Enthusiasm for Hillary among Bernie supporters will never match the enthusiasm these supporters have shown for Bernie. But if Bernie's supporters feel they have a continuing voice and institutional representation, and a commitment to reform from Hillary, then support for her - in the event she is the Democratic nominee - would become more widely acceptable among them. Those who are most enthusiastic for Hillary would work for her while others could primarily channel their energies into down-ticket efforts.

All will give more of their time, talent and money if they see their work as part of an ongoing political revolution that is immune from cooptation by the Democratic Party establishment and that ultimately can transform the Democratic Party and our nation's politics as well. For this to happen, the coalition will have to maintain its organizational autonomy and integrity, including its own voter, donor, and member lists.

Trust in Bernie, and in his vision for America's future, has united a wide range of diverse elements in the electorate. Ultimately, the coalition should become a mass membership organization that governs itself democratically. For the immediate future, however, Bernie should guarantee the unity of the movement by continuing to determine and articulate its programs and policies - maintaining its identity of purpose - until perhaps the 2020 election.

The corruption of American politics is most clearly evident in the vast sums of money that U.S. senators and congresspeople have to raise to be competitive, and the vast quantities of time they have to spend on fundraising. This leaves them particularly dependent on staffs that are, in turn, dependent on the advice of big-money lobbyists. This also deters ordinary Americans from getting involved in politics by running for office. It dramatically reduces competition for public office, and with it the quality of elected representatives. It means that those who are elected generally take for granted the legitimacy of big money's role in politics, even if they are not directly selling their own votes in return for campaign contributions.

The political revolution Bernie Sanders has launched against big money's corruption of American politics has begun well. If Bernie wins the Democratic nomination, it will proceed with great advantage. It should proceed even if he does not.

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Steve Schwartzberg is a former lecturer in history at Yale University and Steve Balkin is an economics professor emeritus at Roosevelt University. They met campaigning for Bernie in Iowa. They can be reached at sschwartzberg02@aol.com and sbalkin@roosevelt.edu.

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Previously by (or including) Steve Balkin:
* The Maxwell Street Muddle.

* Maxwell Street Malfeasance.

* City Needs New Policy For The Maxwell Street Market: An Open Letter To Mayor-Elect Emanuel.

* The Maxwell Street Market Vendors Association Wants You To Like Them.

* The Olympic Bid That Could Have Been.

* Lil Scotty: 'Give Him His Flowers While He Lives.'

* Remembering Lil Scotty: Bluesman, Buttonman.

* Remembering Lacy Gibson, Master Bluesman.

* Here's To Bobby Too Tuff.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:11 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

New Tribune Publishing investor and vice chairman Patrick Soon-Shiong has his "machine vision," but it already sounds antiquated (if not inherently silly and nonviable) compared to what Apple is cooking up.

"The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 66 newly granted patents for Apple Inc.," Patently Apple reported earlier this month.

"In this particular report we cover one of Apple's most revolutionary ideas that they've had in some time. Apple's invention covers a futuristic newspaper using a very thin flexible OLED display.

"Apple reveals that the new device would use an advanced form of MMS to deliver the content to this new kind of device.

"Apple notes that 'Although the availability of multimedia information is ubiquitous, proper viewing, display, and delivery of information for an enjoyable user experience is still lacking. This is especially the case for viewing periodicals such as online magazines or news content on a mobile device where a large display is desirable.'"

In other words, while Soon-Shiong works on reinventing the print newspaper, Apple is at work reinventing the mobile newspaper.

Granted Patent: Digital Newspaper

Apple's newly granted patent generally relates to an apparatus and method to communicate multimedia documents or content to a mobile or fixed device over a wireless network. In particular, the mobile or fixed device may be configured as a digital periodical or advertising device to transmit and receive converted multimedia documents or content delivered using multimedia messaging service over a wireless network.

Here's the key:

"Apple's electronic newspaper will be so thin that it could be collapsed and rolled up for portability."

This is actually an idea we've been hearing about for years. Maybe one day Ferro and his team will get up to speed.

Dearborn Street
"The CEO of Tribune Publishing, Justin Dearborn, is moving to Los Angeles, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday morning," Politico reports.

The company is providing a $262,000 moving allowance. I volunteer to drive the van.

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Fucking Golden

That would be the Chinese American Service League.

"Honoree Michael Ferro is among the biggest donors to this event," Chicagoland Radio and Media reports.

"The Ferro-created SPLASH magazine, now published and distributed by the Chicago Tribune, also serves as a donor and [was scheduled to cover] the event."

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Heard On The Street
"Gannett is betting that a strong vote of no-confidence in Tribune Publishing's board next Thursday, June 2, will be enough to drive the Chicago-based media company to agree to its $864 million hostile acquisition effort," The Street reports.

"The unusual vote, set for Tribune Publishing's annual meeting, will have no binding impact on the company's management or board. However, a strong negative vote, even one where only as little as 45% of participating shareholders oppose the incumbent directors. could be enough to embarrass Tribune Publishing and push it to the negotiating table."

I doubt it. I don't think Ferro is capable of that kind of embarrassment. It's clear by now that he's a man with a savior complex hellbent on inflicting his infamous firehouse of ill-considered ideas on Tribune audiences (and workplaces) nationwide (and soon, worldwide). The problem - well, one of many - is that Tribune is a public corporation responsible first and foremost to shareholders seeking maximum value, as we've been lectured (conveniently) over the years. If Ferro doesn't like that, he should, as others have suggested, take the company private.

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"One investor, Towle & Co., was so enraged by [Ferro's latest] moves, which he suggested were defensive actions on the part of Tribune Publishing, that he suggested in a letter made public Wednesday that the decision to dilute his position by issuing 4.7 million shares to Nant Capital 'was most distasteful' and that 'stacking the board and ownership in favor of one particular view is not good governance.'"

To wit:

(From Wednesday's column: "The advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services is behind Tribune Publishing on this issue, partly because Gannett has not put a firm tender offer on the table. But the proxy adviser gives Tribune Publishing its lowest corporate governance grade over all," Jennifer Saba reports for Reuters Breakingviews.)

"And if they don't move towards a deal, it is a strong possibility that some Tribune Publishing shareholders could file a lawsuit in Delaware charging that two recent share issuances constituted an illegal effort to thwart Gannett's hostile proposal."

I would think.

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"[S]ome hedge funds . . . haven't spoken publicly about the campaign and are the ones that will make or break Gannett's campaign and bid. These include BlackRock, Vanguard Group and State Street, which own 5%, 2.5% and 1% respectively."

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Not Looking Marvelous
Presumably not the same Michael Ferro, but you never know!

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Chicago Woman Proclaimed As "First Negro Novelist"
"The reason for True Love's disappearance might be simple: it takes place in England, a place Farro probably never visited, and all of its characters are white."

Fantasy Fix: Chicago Keepers
One on each side of town.

Beware Bristles In Your Burgers!
Grill with caution.

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BeachBook

Policies To Help Students Pay For College Continue To Shift Toward Favoring The Rich.

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Another Win For The Banks.

Notice a pattern? The rich in a rout.

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Cyber "Emergency" Order Nets No Culprits.

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How Neighborhoods Have Held Developers Accountable.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Who's with me?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: By proxy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

Rediscovering The Chicago Woman Proclaimed As "The First Negro Novelist"

Two years ago, I was in the United Kingdom working on a follow-up project for my books Black London and Black Victorians/Black Victoriana. While looking through old British newspapers, I was astonished to read an 1893 announcement in the Daily Telegraph proclaiming Sarah E. Farro to be "the first negro novelist" with the publication of her novel True Love.

I wondered: who was this woman? And why didn't we know about this reportedly groundbreaking novel?

The Daily Telegraph didn't get it exactly right: we know now that Farro wasn't the first African-American novelist. Nonetheless, she appears nowhere in the canon of African-American literature.

After doing more research, I soon realized that Farro had made her mark writing about white people - and that this may also be the reason her work was forgotten. Learning of a black woman whose race was documented, whose novel was published, but who disappeared in the historical record, can change how we think about African-American literature.

Farro Joins A Small Club

Searches of American census records show that Sarah E. Farro was born in 1859 in Illinois to parents who moved to Chicago from the South. She had two younger sisters, and her race is given as "black" on the 1880 census.

truelove.jpg

Her novel, True Love: A Story of English Domestic Life, was published in 1891 by the Chicago publishing house Donohue & Henneberry. It was one of 58 books by Illinois women writers exhibited at the World's Columbian Exhibition in 1893. Newspapers in the U.K. and the U.S. heralded the book. Toward the end of her life, in 1937, Farro was feted at a celebration of Chicago's "outstanding race pioneers." Apparently, she never wrote another novel.

True Love disappeared from the historical record, and for decades historians recognized only three other 19th-century novels written and published by African Americans.

One other, The Bondswoman's Narrative, was recently found in manuscript and published, even though the author, Hannah Crafts, is only circumstantially (although convincingly) identified. With my discovery, Farro becomes only the second known African-American woman novelist published in the 19th century. And she now joins William Wells Brown, Harriet E. Wilson, and Frank J. Webb as the only African-American published novelists in the entire century.

When I returned to the U.S. from the U.K., I was able to track down only two copies of True Love in libraries - one at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago and the other at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - and headed to Chicago to read it. To briefly summarize: the novel tells the story of a man whose quest to marry his love, Janey, is thwarted by Janey's selfish sister and mother. Generous and beloved Janey nurses her sister through a fever, only to catch it herself and die.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign later digitized it for me, and now it's available online for anyone to read. Just two weeks ago I found an original copy on eBay and immediately bought it for $124.

The eBay listing makes no mention of her race; nowhere except in early newspaper pieces is she identified as a black woman, so this important piece of history has remained invisible until now.

An Unexpected Subject Matter?

The reason for True Love's disappearance might be simple: it takes place in England, a place Farro probably never visited, and all of its characters are white.

As literary scholar Elizabeth McHenry has shown, 19th-century black women's literary clubs, which catered to mostly middle-class members and aspirants, primarily read prominent white English and American authors, in addition to black political writers. It was natural, then, that when Farro took up her pen she emulated her stated favorite novelists: Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray and Oliver Wendell Holmes - writers of popular fiction admired by black and white readers alike.

victorianblack.jpgVictorian-era, middle-class black women who loved to read and write didn't have many role models/Jeffrey Green

Had Farro's role models been black female authors who had written novels about black women, she may have crafted a different kind of novel.

Today we assume that early African-American writers inevitably wrote about race, that 19th-century writers necessarily referred to experiences of slavery and struggle and that their access to literacy - let alone the Victorian literary canon - must have been limited. Finding Farro's novel changes that. Because we didn't realize that authors like Farro existed, we had limited our perspective on their work.

As McHenry writes, "the danger of privileging [slave narratives] is that we risk overlooking the many other forms of literary production that coexisted alongside [them]."

We have much to learn about what black women read, what they wrote, and for whom. In this case, it seems that many of Farro's readers must have been white women.

The Significance Of Not Writing About Race

Ironically, though Farro was first celebrated and brought to public attention precisely because of her race, she doesn't fit the mold of familiar early African-American writers. Nor is she similar to those who have been revived and "rediscovered." Perhaps the aforementioned Brown, Webb and Wilson were noticed and celebrated not just because of their race, but because they all wrote about race.

Farro's novel, on the other hand, is a domestic romance that tends toward melodrama. Although she explicitly sets it in England, she also betrays her unfamiliarity with that country. For instance, she gives British incomes in dollars and mentions that a character wants his wedding to take place before Thanksgiving. Nonetheless, a Chicago publisher saw fit to bring out her book.

Farro's rediscovered novel tells us that black women of her time read, discussed and emulated the works of people who were not like them. Farro lived in the North through the end of slavery, preceded the Great Migration, published a novel as an American Victorian and lived through - and past - the Harlem Renaissance.

Surely those writers owe her a debt of gratitude, just as we have an obligation to bring her back into the fold of African-American and women novelists and to think about how these discoveries change our views of the African-American experience.

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Gretchen Gerzina is an English professor at the University of Massachusetts. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:31 AM | Permalink

Grill With Caution: Wire Bristles From Barbecue Brushes Can Cause Serious Injuries

While many people view Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of the summer grilling season, they may not be aware of the dangers of eating food cooked on grills cleaned with wire-bristle brushes. A new study conducted at the University of Missouri School of Medicine identified more than 1,600 injuries from wire-bristle grill brushes reported in emergency rooms since 2002. Loose bristles can fall off the brush during cleaning and end up in the grilled food, which, if consumed, can lead to injuries in the mouth, throat and tonsils. Researchers advise individuals to inspect their food carefully after grilling or consider alternative grill-cleaning methods.

"Wire-bristle brush injuries are a potential consumer safety issue, so it is important that people, manufacturers and health providers be aware of the problem," said David Chang, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology at the MU School of Medicine. "If doctors are unaware that this problem exists, they may not order the appropriate tests or capture the correct patient history to reach the right diagnosis."


Chang reviewed consumer injury databases to determine the number of emergency department visits caused by wire-bristle injuries between 2002 and 2014. He observed that 1,698 injuries were reported by emergency departments in that time. The most common injuries reported were in patients' oral cavities, throats and tonsils, with some injuries requiring surgery.

"One little bristle unrecognized could get lodged in various areas of the body, whether in the throat, tonsil or neck region," Chang said. "If the bristle passes through those regions without lodging itself, it could get stuck further downstream in places like the esophagus, stomach or the intestine. The biggest worry is that it will lodge into those areas and get stuck in the wall of the intestine. The bristles could migrate out of the intestine and cause further internal damage."

Chang said that the number of injuries found from wire-bristle brushes could be even larger than his 1,698 estimate, since his study did not include injuries treated at urgent care facilities or other outpatient settings. This data could lead to better protective measures from individuals and wire-bristle brush manufacturers, he said.

Chang recommends the following tips for individuals this grilling season:

* Use caution when cleaning grills with wire-bristle brushes, examining brushes before each use and discarding if bristles are loose.

* Inspect your grill's cooking grates before cooking, or use alternative cleaning methods such as nylon-bristle brushes or balls of tin foil.

* Inspect grilled food carefully after cooking to make sure bristles are not stuck to the food.

"If cautionary measures fail and individuals do experience problems with swallowing or pain after eating something that has been barbecued or grilled, they should seek advice from a physician or an emergency department and let the physician know that they were just at a barbecue event or they just grilled food," Chang said.

The study, "Epidemiology of Wire-Bristle Grill Brush Injury in the United States, 2002-2014," recently was published in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Research reported in this publication was supported by the MU School of Medicine and the MU Department of Otolaryngology. The researchers have no conflicts of interest to declare related to this study.

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Note to reporters and editors: Although observational studies cannot provide definitive evidence of safety, efficacy, or effectiveness, they can: 1) provide information on "real world" use and practice; 2) detect signals about the benefits and risks of complementary therapies use in the general population; 3) help formulate hypotheses to be tested in subsequent experiments; 4) provide part of the community-level data needed to design more informative pragmatic clinical trials; and 5) inform clinical practice. ("Observational Studies and Secondary Data Analyses To Assess Outcomes in Complementary and Integrative Health Care," Richard Nahin, Ph.D., M.P.H., Senior Advisor for Scientific Coordination and Outreach, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, June 25, 2012)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:37 AM | Permalink

Why Do Only Some People Get 'Skin Orgasms' From Listening To Music?

Have you ever been listening to a great piece of music and felt a chill run up your spine? Or goosebumps tickle your arms and shoulders?

The experience is called frisson (pronounced free-sawn), a French term meaning "aesthetic chills," and it feels like waves of pleasure running all over your skin. Some researchers have even dubbed it a "skin orgasm."

skinorgasms.jpg

Listening to emotionally moving music is the most common trigger of frisson, but some feel it while looking at beautiful artwork, watching a particularly moving scene in a movie or having physical contact with another person. Studies have shown that roughly two-thirds of the population feels frisson, and frisson-loving Reddit users have even created a page to share their favorite frisson-causing media.

But why do some people experience frisson and not others?

Working in the lab of Dr. Amani El-Alayli, a professor of Social Psychology at Eastern Washington University, I decided to find out.

What Causes A Thrill, Followed By A Chill?

While scientists are still unlocking the secrets of this phenomenon, a large body of research over the past five decades has traced the origins of frisson to how we emotionally react to unexpected stimuli in our environment, particularly music.

Musical passages that include unexpected harmonies, sudden changes in volume or the moving entrance of a soloist are particularly common triggers for frisson because they violate listeners' expectations in a positive way, similar to what occurred during the 2009 debut performance of the unassuming Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent.

If a violin soloist is playing a particularly moving passage that builds up to a beautiful high note, the listener might find this climactic moment emotionally charged, and feel a thrill from witnessing the successful execution of such a difficult piece.

But science is still trying to catch up with why this thrill results in goosebumps in the first place.

Some scientists have suggested that goosebumps are an evolutionary holdover from our early (hairier) ancestors, who kept themselves warm through an endothermic layer of heat that they retained immediately beneath the hairs of their skin. Experiencing goosebumps after a rapid change in temperature (like being exposed to an unexpectedly cool breeze on a sunny day) temporarily raises and then lowers those hairs, resetting this layer of warmth.

goosebumps.jpgEverJean/Flickr, CC BY

Since we invented clothing, humans have had less of a need for this endothermic layer of heat. But the physiological structure is still in place, and it may have been rewired to produce aesthetic chills as a reaction to emotionally moving stimuli, like great beauty in art or nature.

Research regarding the prevalence of frisson has varied widely, with studies showing anywhere between 55 percent and 86 percent of the population being able to experience the effect.

We predicted that if a person were more cognitively immersed in a piece of music, then he or she might be more likely to experience frisson as a result of paying closer attention to the stimuli. And we suspected that whether someone would become cognitively immersed in a piece of music in the first place would be a result of his or her personality type.

To test this hypothesis, participants were brought into the lab and wired up to an instrument that measures galvanic skin response, a measure of how the electrical resistance of people's skin changes when they become physiologically aroused.

Participants were then invited to listen to several pieces of music as lab assistants monitored their responses to the music in real time.

Examples of pieces used in the study include:

1. The first two minutes and 11 seconds of J.S. Bach's "St. John's Passion: Part 1 - Herr, unser Herrscher."

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2. The first two minutes and 18 seconds of Chopin's "Piano Concerto No. 1: II."

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3. The first 53 seconds of Air Supply's "Making Love Out of Nothing At All."

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4. The first three minutes and 21 seconds of Vangelis's "Mythodea: Movement 6."

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5. The first two minutes of Hans Zimmer's "Oogway Ascends" from the Kung Fu Panda soundtrack.

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Each of these pieces contains at least one thrilling moment that is known to cause frisson in listeners (several have been used in previous studies).

For example, in the Bach piece, the tension built up by the orchestra during the first 80 seconds is finally released by the entrance of the choir - a particularly charged moment that's likely to elicit frisson.

As participants listened to these pieces of music, lab assistants asked them to report their experiences of frisson by pressing a small button, which created a temporal log of each listening session.

By comparing these data to the physiological measures and to a personality test that the participants had completed, we were, for the first time, able to draw some unique conclusions about why frisson might be happening more often for some listeners than for others.

galvanic.jpgThis graph shows the reactions of one listener in the lab. The peaks of each line represent moments when the participant was particularly cognitively or emotionally aroused by the music. In this case, each of these peaks of excitement coincided with the participant reporting experiencing frisson in reaction to the music. This participant scored high on a personality trait called 'Openness to Experience.' Author provided. (ENLARGE)

The Role Of Personality

Results from the personality test showed that the listeners who experienced frisson also scored high for a personality trait called Openness to Experience.

Studies have shown that people who possess this trait have unusually active imaginations, appreciate beauty and nature, seek out new experiences, often reflect deeply on their feelings, and love variety in life.

Some aspects of this trait are inherently emotional (loving variety, appreciating beauty), and others are cognitive (imagination, intellectual curiosity).

While previous research had connected Openness to Experience with frisson, most researchers had concluded that listeners were experiencing frisson as a result of a deeply emotional reaction they were having to the music.

In contrast, the results of our study show that it's the cognitive components of Openness to Experience - such as making mental predictions about how the music is going to unfold or engaging in musical imagery (a way of processing music that combines listening with daydreaming) - that are associated with frisson to a greater degree than the emotional components.

These findings, recently published in the journal Psychology of Music, indicate that those who intellectually immerse themselves in music (rather than just letting it flow over them) might experience frisson more often and more intensely than others.

And if you're one of the lucky people who can feel frisson, the frisson Reddit group has identified Lady Gaga's rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner at the 2016 Super Bowl and a fan-made trailer for the original Star Wars trilogy as especially chill-inducing.

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Mitchell Colver is a Ph.D. student in education at Utah State University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:36 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2016

Fantasy Fix: Chicago Keepers

How long can you let valuable fantasy roster spots be taken up by players who are vastly underperforming?

The answer, of course, can depend on who they are, when you drafted them, how strongly you believe that they will eventually play up to their traditional fantasy output, and perhaps a number of other criteria. The hardest ones to part with are those who had been awarded pre-season rankings in the top 40 or so. No one wants to believe that anyone among their first three or four draft picks turned out to be a dud.

Yet, unless you're in first place despite your underperformer - or in a keeper league - you will probably have to let go at some point. June 1 seems like a good date. The first two months of the season gone, weather warm enough that cold bats or arms should no longer be an issue, and also roughly when we see a big batch of prized prospects making their first big-league appearances (trading in something worn for something shiny and new is at least a defensible position).

Here are a few guys I would definitely cut on June 1, barring any sort of phenomenal rebound in the next week or so - a couple of poor performers I would hang on to:

Dallas Keuchel, SP, HOU: Last year's AL Cy Young winner has been mostly terrible right from the start, despite the Astros' willingness to leave him in games even when he's getting shelled (which from a fantasy point of view is a big part of how much he's truly lacking in value). His 5.92 ERA and whopping 1.59 WHIP have destroyed a lot of fantasy match-ups this season, and with just two wins and 53 strikeouts in 62 IP, he has offered almost nothing. HOU is having a bad season as a team, but Keuchel's troubles seem all his own, and don't seem to be getting better.

Matt Harvey, SP, NYM: I admit having Harvey on my list of Cy Young candidates for this year, and was expecting a huge season after being further distant from an injury at that cost him more than a year. Yet, Harvey has been conspicuously, yet mysteriously, bad. There have been rumors that he's out of shape or has lost something on his pitches after a long post-season trip last fall, and in the last week those rumors have expanded to include a possible DL stint. His numbers are even worse than Keuchel's - 6.08 ERA, 1.69 WHIP and just 44 strikeouts in 53 IP. The difference between the two is that Harvey had a sparkling 10-strikeout game this month, and the otherwise winning Mets have managed to get him three wins. He may yet come back, but let someone else take a flyer on him.

Joey Votto, 1B, CIN: True to form, he has walked a bunch this year, but with 28, he's still not on pace for last year's incredible 143. He also is hitting .216, nowhere near last season's .314, which had us talking about a career rebound. He has six HRs, 25 RBI, 20 runs and one SB, which leaves him more than 200 spots down the list from his top 25 pre-season fantasy ranking.

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So, those are the guys I'd cut, but here's two I wouldn't cut just yet:

Jason Heyward, OF, CUBS: The Cubs started fast and may be settling down. Heyward, despite being in a prime No. 2 spot in an offense that leads MLB in a scoring, has been pretty bad: one HR, 14 RBI, six SBs, 20 runs .596 OPS. Still, his SBs have given him some fantasy value, and I believe his lineup protection eventually will help his OPS, which will boost his RBI and runs. Not so sure about those HRs, though.

Jose Abreu, 1B, WHITE SOX: Have been on the fence with him more than with Heyward, and have to admit his first three-hit game of the season this week calmed me down a bit. His .247 BA (vastly improved this week), six HRs, 27 RBI, 18 runs and .794 OPS put him very far down the list at a position rich in fantasy production, and he will never help with SBs, but I have an inkling he will have a big breakout in June. We can only hope.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:40 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Up to two dozen charter schools could shut down under budget cuts CPS recently released, sending up to 15,000 students in search of new schools," Catalyst reports.

So there's some good news after all!

"Charter advocates are working on proposals to reform state education funding."

Sure, now they are.

There are no budget atheists when foxholes are on the chopping block, or something.

Dumb Digital Doomsayers
"[Tuesday] afternoon brought additional fodder for predictions of a tremulous bubble in digital media: VICE News, the edgy outlet that's expanded to become a global presence, announced it's axing 15 jobs in New York and Los Angeles," Benjamin Mullin writes for the Poynter Institute.

I don't know that the loss of 15 jobs equates to fodder for predictions of a tremulous bubble in digital media, but let's read on.

"In a statement, a VICE spokesperson said today's cuts fit into a larger expansion plan that will ultimately see the company adding jobs and bolstering its daily video, documentary and text offerings."

On one hand, this could just be corporate-speak. On the other, job losses at legacy newsrooms have been reported for years without correspondingly noting that hires are often occurring at the same time in a different (editorial or editorially supporting) realm of a company.

"Nearly 20 employees have joined the company of late, new hires are slated to join in the coming weeks, and VICE is planning to announce new editorial and production bureaus in Hong Kong and San Francisco later this year."

Well for fuck's sake! That's a net of five new jobs - at least! Where's the tremulous bubble in that?

"'The plan in place will expand VICE's news offerings across digital and TV, continue the recent of wave of newsroom hires, add additional foreign bureaus and marshal the company's existing news divisions into one cohesive powerhouse,' the statement read."

It's no secret that Vice is redirecting a portion of its resources to video. That's not the same as simply slashing payroll. And yet:

"VICE News becomes the latest in a line of venture-backed online media companies to announce layoffs or gloomy business news in the last year or so."

I hate to sound corporate myself, but this hardly seems gloomy to me - news organizations need to be nimble (which isn't the same as chasing the latest shiny thing, and shouldn't leave employees without any fundamental sense of security) and strategically fresh instead of rotting through recalcitrance like so many print operations.

Ferro's War
"It was a day of playbacks - in response to my Monday Morning Report on the Gannett bid for Tribune Publishing, the Tribune team spent a long time on the phone with me, telling me over and over how their Chairman Michael Ferro's only interest is whatever is best for shareholders and that nothing was personal between him and Gannett, as I had stated in the report," Cliff Oxford writes for Forbes.

"Well, Ferro spent all day yesterday convincing not only me, but everyone that it is such a personal battle he is willing to gamble big time with shareholders' wealth on the line."

Without a doubt. It's not personal insofar as Ferro has a particular grudge with Gannett, but in Ferro's self-perception as a genius who very badly wants to show the world that he can save the newspaper industry.

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A few proxy firms have weighed in on Tribune's side, though no serious analyst takes Ferro's plans seriously.

Then why?

"The advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services is behind Tribune Publishing on this issue, partly because Gannett has not put a firm tender offer on the table. But the proxy adviser gives Tribune Publishing its lowest corporate governance grade over all," Jennifer Saba reports for Reuters Breakingviews.

"The first time Tribune Publishing sent Gannett packing, it noted the board's unanimity. That language is missing this go-round. It is a sign perhaps that other shareholders may get a say eventually. For now, Mr. Ferro has managed to keep their fate in his hands. They may regret that: I.S.S. notes that he did not do so well running the Chicago Sun-Times."

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"Gannett could still end up successfully acquiring Tribune," Ronald Barusch writes for the Wall Street Journal.

"Indeed, relatively few companies that receive unsolicited bids at substantial premiums end up remaining independent. But a takeover without the current board's cooperation will require patience and perseverance on Gannett's part."

Perhaps another full year when Gannett would have an opportunity to change the Trib board. At that point, as well, Gannett may have accumulated stock on the open market while watching Ferro go down in flames. But there may not be an immediate next step for Gannett - though a shareholder lawsuit remains possible.

"[Gannett] missed a February deadline to run a competing slate of directors at the meeting," Liz Hoffman notes for the Journal.

"At the time, Gannett was busy trying to close its takeover of Journal Media Group, which wasn't completed until April.

"ISS cited Gannett's failure to nominate a slate among its reasons for recommending against the withhold campaign. Due to Gannett's 'timing issues . . . [t]here is no action shareholders can move forward if they find the offer a compelling starting point for negotiations,' the firm said."

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Ferro has agreed to open the company's books as long as Gannett is willing to sign, of course, a non-disclosure agreement. But Ferro's NDA is a bit of a trap itself, including a provision that Gannett not talk to the media about its attempt to acquire the company for two years, according to a spokesperson who talked to Politico's Ken Doctor.

Doctor has been certain from the start that Ferro would be unable to fend off Gannett. Just two days ago, Doctor, whose reporting on the saga has been the deepest, tweeted this:

Now, however, he acknowledges that Gannett might be growing weary of the fight. The surprise appearance of Soon-Shiong on the scene indicates that Ferro isn't just strategizing for a sweetened offer; he badly wants to own this company. The question is, just how badly will he manage it? Everything we already know about Ferro tells us the answer is, really badly.

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See also: Billionaire's Tribune Play Has Toyland Parallels.

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Letter From Missouri: The Ozarks Are Deranged
Put corn on a fishhook and they'll go after it. From our very own Scott Buckner.

Sasha Go Hard: They Don't Have Hearts In Chicago
The shooters don't care.

Grit vs. Racism
Stop adjusting youth to injustice.

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BeachBook

Wearing A Cup Is No Slam Dunk For These Cubs.

I had to put on a cup just reading this.

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Should Chicago Be Celebrating Demolitions?

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U.S. Investigating Budweiser Incentive Program.

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Judge OKs Potentially Lethal Lawsuit Against World's Biggest Banks.

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After The Precariat, The Unnecessariat: The Humans Who Are Superfluous To Corporations.

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Viet Con.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Whiskey Tango Ferro.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:37 AM | Permalink

Black And Brown Kids Don't Need To Learn 'Grit,' They Need Schools To Stop Being Racist

Everyone seems to think that a lack of "soft skills" is the reason why students of color aren't ready for college and careers. More schools and after-school programs are teaching students how to have "grit," compassion and a "growth mindset." Under the new federal education law, states are encouraged to use "nonacademic" factors to hold schools accountable.

Rubbish! Soft skill training is disguised bootstrapping, which insidiously blames youth for failing in racist systems designed to block their success, and it abdicates the middle class from any responsibility to uproot inequality. It's racism that really keeps students out of college and careers, not kids' lack of resilience. Students are ready for college and jobs. Postsecondary institutions and employers are not ready for black and brown youth.

No amount of mentoring can repair the damage done to black youth in Flint, Michigan who've been drinking lead-poisoned water because of malign government neglect. But when it comes to black men and boys, we invest millions to develop their "soft skills" as if teaching proper eye contact solves health disparities, police violence and the unemployment crisis in inner cities. For the sake of getting students college- and career-ready, youth-serving programs and schools are essentially training students to adapt to broken systems.

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The Problem With Grit.

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I attended the Ready by 21 National Meeting, which brought forth strategies to improve the quality of service providers and reach youth who aren't employed or in school.

It mostly lived up to its billing. However, one session, titled Early Work Readiness Skill Development, typifies a bugaboo with the readiness movement. That session diagnosed that "youth in America suffer from soft skill deficiencies due to a lack of focus on these skills at home and in school."

Here's the problem: The idea that categorical disparities between black [adults and children] and white [adults and children] in cities across the country are because black folk fail to adapt is not new; it's as old as racism itself.

The real reason youth in Flint or Detroit develop differently than someone growing up in affluent Grosse Pointe is because of discriminatory public policy. Certainly, we need to help youth cope with poor performing systems, but the elevation of soft skills as the new way forward to improve outcomes for youth of color essentially encourages them to adapt to inequality.

Moira O'Neil, senior researcher and director of interpretation at the FrameWorks Institute, who presented at the Ready By 21 conference, illustrated how stubborn societal beliefs around will power, bad parents and dangerous communities bias our appetite against policy change.

"Concepts like grit reinforces 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' language, which doesn't lead to policy change," said O'Neil. "Advocates should focus their communications on the external factors that generate resilient outcomes, rather than inadvertently triggering unproductive thinking about what's supposedly wrong with youth."

Categorical disparities aren't because black folk fail to adapt; policies are achieving their intended goals. The NAACP reports that African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. Districts in the South accounted for 50 percent of black student expulsions from public schools in the United States. These policies hurt youth's chances of going to college or getting a job.

Students are ready for systems and institutions to change. [Adults and kids] of color need to learn how to deconstruct systems rather than adapt to broken ones.

Here's an example of what that might look like: On April 6, the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition convened young people and advocates from around the state on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol to call for juvenile justice reform. Approximately 6,000 17-year-olds in Louisiana were prosecuted as adults last year, which has had a devastating impact on individuals and communities.

The youth who met Gov. John Bel Edwards and other legislators needed to know how to effectively demand changes to the barriers of human potential and persuade others to join the movement. Systems need fixing; students need support.

Many out-of-school programs are already doing some of this work. Public schools, on the other hand, are a fixture in the school-to-prison pipeline.

Students need highly trained teachers, nurturing climates, scholarships and hard human capital goods that make real differences. Student shouldn't take yet another test to see if they're developing enough resilience. Saying a kid from Baltimore, St. Louis or New Orleans needs grit is like saying a mountain climber needs to get rid of her fear of falling.

Stop adjusting youth to injustice. But if eye contact needs to be made, prepare students to stare power in the eyes and unapologetically demand justice.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education in partnership with The Root.

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See also: Why Mentors Need To Stop Trying To Fix Black And Brown Students.

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About Andre Perry.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

Sasha Go Hard: They Don't Have Hearts In Chicago

The shooters don't care.


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Lil Durk, as mentioned, left Chicago for Hollywood.

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Previously in Sasha Go Hard by DJ Smallz:

Sasha's Issues With Chicago Radio.

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Sasha's Tour Of Chicago.

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Previously in Sasha Go Hard in the Beachwood:

* Item No. 2: Sasha Go Hard Discusses Her Image With Pitchfork Weekly.

* Item No. 8: Rolling Stone: Rockie Fresh And Sasha Go Hard Bomb In New York.

* Item No. 1: Sway Does Chicago.

* Item No. 1: Sasha Go Hard's Nutty World. Plus: Item No. 3: Katie Bandz On Graduating High School With Sasha Go Hard.

* Item No. 1: Sasha Goes Harder.

* Item No. 3: Sasha Go Hard's Own Lane.

* Weekend Jukebox: Sasha Go Hard/Respect.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:51 AM | Permalink

Letter From Missouri | The Ozarks Are Deranged

One of the pleasant things about the Ozarks is that you can't help but get closer to all the nature contained within those rolling and precipitously steep hills. Cold, clear natural springs feeding creeks and rivers? Check. Big trout in those rivers? Check. I could checklist like that awhile longer, but you get the idea. Best thing is, that sort of nature isn't something we've manufactured to sucker in the tourists, either. It's been just lying there for millions of years for the taking 24/7 for anyone who manages to leave the house long enough to notice it.

When you live in a giant concrete metropolis, you don't see much nature beyond whatever bugs manage to wander into the house, city pigeons, feral cats, Norway rats in the alley, and neighborhood dogs that always bark too much and too late into the night. Here in the Ozarks, we have turkeys growing wild. Black bears too, if radio commercials warning about them aren't yanking our chain.

All this nature is pretty neat, but having a lot of it around has led me to make a few observations about it:

1. Nature is deranged.

2. Whatever isn't deranged is just plain brain-damaged.

3. Whatever isn't just plain brain-damaged is just plain stupid.

Robins probably lead the league in deranged, especially during nesting season, which happens to be now. I have several nesters in the trees in my front and side yards, so consequently I spend a good deal of time being dive-bombed by these territorial, protective brood-watchers whenever I walk between the car in the driveway and the house, or head across the street to the mailbox. You'd think after all this time they'd be able to recognize me (or at least my hat) and my lack of interest in them by now.

Bluejays and Canadian geese are just as deranged, but they at least have the good sense to do their birthing business in the woods and waters instead of atop peoples' porch-door light fixtures and gutter downspouts.

Rainbow trout aren't deranged, of course, but there's still something wrong with these creatures. Put corn on a fishhook and they'll go after it. This despite the fact there isn't anything in the whole Ozarks Bug Kingdom that remotely resembles a Green Giant tender niblet that would explain being fooled in the same manner that they're be fooled by an expertly engineered dry fly or wet nymph. On the other hand, a good deal of the rainbows around here were hatchery-raised and fed a diet of man-made pellets, so perhaps they just have no idea what food is when they leave the farm, so now it's more a matter of being really, really confused about food.

A little more than a week ago, I traveled between West Plains and Interstate 44 by way of Mountain Grove, and I was more in awe of the number of armadillos lying dead in and alongside the road than I was of the basic idea that we have armadillos here. But given that Texas is what it is, I'm not exactly surprised they ended up here. I would too, but unlike armadillos, I own a car and don't have to walk all that way to Missouri.

Unlike rabbits or deer or household pets, who become victims of their poorly-timed decisions to cross the road, armadillos apparently live on the road, particularly at night. Even more apparently, they live most of their lives without any particular place to go. And the ones who indeed do have someplace to go don't seem to be in much of a hurry to get there.

It's even worse for our local turtles, whose smashed, tire-flattened carcasses in the roadways were even more stunning in number. Unlike armadillos, our turtles do seem to have places to get to, but nature's joke was programming them to take forever to get there. That's not too bad of a deal if you just stay put - where there's a vast cornucopia of greens lying inches from your face to graze upon when you've worked up an appetite taking forever to get somewhere - but why you'd want to leave all that in the first place is a mystery to me. It's not as if you're a turtle trying to escape the desert for pastures of green on the other side of an asphalt ribbon, like those ocean turtles born at midnight that have to dig their way through a foot or two of sand after hatching and then make a mad dash across a very dark and wide stretch of beach to get to their home in the sea.

If that isn't enough, you have to pray that you don't get eaten on the way to the water by some predator or captured by a tourist who thinks you're just so cute and darling and snatches you up and takes you home, where you'll be dead from malnutrition and neglect days later in some cold, miserable aquarium in their kid's bedroom.

Not only that, but the roadkill here aren't even tortoises. They're turtles. Why you'd want to leave the water, where nature specifically demands you live in the first place, is beyond me as well. The only thing I can attribute that to is it's mating season, but all the other turtles in your pond happen to be fellas. I can see that. On the other hand though, given the astonishingly high odds that you'll end up a speed bump on the way to your hunt for ladies who may or may not be be across the road, exploring an alternative lifestyle might not be that bad of an idea, given the circumstances.

Still, as deranged or dim-bulb as nature around here may be, it's our nature, and our gift. Get out and appreciate it. Be amazed by it. Be amused by it.

Just don't try to feed it. It might end up eating you instead.

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Longtime Beachwood correspondent and former Illinoisan Scott Buckner is now the managing editor of the Daily Quill in West Plains, Missouri. He welcomes your comments.

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Previously in Scott Buckner:

* Riding The Dog: A Four-Part Series.

* What I Watched Last Night: The Archives.

* The Clown Prince Of Chicago Kiddie TV: A Three-Part Interview.

* Carp vs. Pols.

* Reality Check: Celebrity Dating Advice.

* 10 Of The Prettiest Damn Songs On The Planet.

* I Am A Roofer.

* Really Commercial TV.

* Bin Dive's Five Favorite Cover Songs.

* Scott Buckner's 2008 Beachwood Gift Guide.

* Song Of The Moment: Rainy Days And Mondays.

* The Found Art Of TV Theme Songs.

* Day In The Life: Downtown Chicago.

* No Hugs On The CTA.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:29 AM | Permalink

May 24, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, a biotechnology pioneer, wants to bring the print newspaper back to life," Bloomberg reports.

"On Monday, Tribune Publishing Co. said Soon-Shiong's Nant Capital had made a $70.5 million investment in the publisher, a move seen as an attempt to fend off a hostile takeover by Gannett Co. Soon-Shiong will become vice chairman of the board, and Nant Capital will have a 12.9 percent stake, making it Tribune's second-largest shareholder.

"In an interview, Soon-Shiong, a 63-year-old surgeon and chief executive officer of NantKwest Inc., a cancer-research firm, said he wants to use 'machine vision' technology he's developed to transform the experience of reading a print newspaper."

Uh-oh.

*

I have always believed that print has a role in news - I've written and spoken many times about the possibilities of a weekly photo paper/magazine, for example. A wealth of possible new niche products uniquely suited to print and its advertisers. But mostly, I've argued that newsrooms should go about their (digital) business every day and every night a team of editors should scrounge through the content and piece together the next morning's print newspaper. That's exactly what it sounds like the New York Times is ready to do.

"I also want to underscore how enormous - and transformational - an undertaking it is to create a print hub, a desk designed to build the best print paper each night," Times editor Dean Baquet wrote in a memo to his staff last week.

"Assigning editors, in the very near future, will not worry about filling space. They will worry over coverage, and the best ways to tell stories. The print hub, a dedicated group of designers and editors, will then construct the print paper out of the great wealth of journalism."

Reporters, then, would be charged with producing digital journalism from the get-go. Links, for example, would be stripped out for the print version (and therefore made inferior to the "real", or digital, version.) That's not just digital-first thinking, it's thinking. The daily print product should be an afterthought to most reporters and editors producing the news and left, as it seems it will be at the Times, to another group of journalists who may find their own way to create magic with their new product.

The print newspaper should not in any way be at the forefront of the thinking of a news organization's $70 million man invited to serve as the board's vice-chairman and made the the company's second-largest shareholder to form a united front with a controlling shareholder who can't pick a strategic lane and stick with it, much less execute with any level of skill.

Reviving the newspaper? That's reminiscent to me of when General Mills executive Mark Willes took over the Los Angeles Times in 1995 and announced he would grow print circulation by 500,000 or even 1 million subscribers.

"In Willes, Times Mirror got a brainy, reserved, and self-assured leader who vowed to reinvent the business - a radical in a gray-flannel suit," Fortune noted in 2000.

"The son of a Salt Lake City banker, Willes earned a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia, taught at Wharton, and spent 11 years as a banker with the Federal Reserve. He then rose to become vice chairman of General Mills, the maker of Cheerios and Hamburger Helper. Journalists were less than wowed by that resume - one media critic at Harvard sneered that Willes' ideas came from 'putting yellow boxes on grocery shelves.'

"Willes seemed to confirm their worst fears when he shut down New York Newsday and the Baltimore Evening Sun and eliminated 700 jobs at the Los Angeles Times, including 150 in the newsroom. Headline writers dubbed him 'Cap'n Crunch' and the 'Cereal Killer.'

"Then he did something unexpected. He sold off Times Mirror's legal, educational, and medical publishing companies, art book publisher Harry N. Abrams, the National Journal, and stakes in the Speedvision and Outdoor Life cable networks. By shedding businesses in which, he said, the company couldn't lead, he made a big bet on - of all things - newspapers."

I know it sounds facile, but it's true: These guys are all the same.

*

But there's something even more harrowingly reminiscent in the opening statements of Soon-Shiong, which no doubt reflect the thinking of Trib chairman Michael Ferro:

"In an interview, Soon-Shiong, a 63-year-old surgeon and chief executive officer of NantKwest Inc., a cancer-research firm, said he wants to use 'machine vision' technology he's developed to transform the experience of reading a print newspaper . . . For example, a reader could pan a camera across a physical newspaper and the photos could be turned into video. Focus the camera on a photo of basketball star Kevin Durant or Donald Trump and 'you'd hear him speaking or Kevin Durant would be dunking,' he said.

"'You'd be bringing to life whatever you see on the newspaper,' Soon-Shiong said. 'Every page, every picture, every commercial is merely a TV channel activated by the picture itself through machine vision recognition.'"

There's another technology that already does that, and it's quite popular: It's called the cell phone. You can hear players speak and watch their highlights right beside the article you are reading about them! Or I could buy a newspaper, spread it out and then use my phone to scan the newspaper for the same result. But what a pain on the train!

The reminiscent part? CueCat.

"CueCat was a handheld device that looked like an elongated computer mouse. It could read bar codes printed in newspapers and connect its users with an Internet site containing more information about stories or advertisements," Donald Shanor explained in News From Abroad.

CueCat became an industry laughingstock, as reflected in the tone of this Jim Romenesko item from 2003: "Man Who Got Belo To Invest Millions In CueCat Has A New Gig."

To wit:

"J. Jovan Philyaw, the Texas entrepreneur who convinced Belo to sink nearly $40 million into the failed CueCat scanning device, is calling himself J. Hutton Pulitzer these days, according to Eric Celeste. His new job is peddling crystals."

*

Or:

"When was the last time you scanned a QR code?"

*

Suggested name for new Tribune product: The Copy Cat.

*

Back to Bloomberg:

"Soon-Shiong said he's known Tribune Chairman Michael Ferro for years. After Ferro became Tribune's top shareholder earlier this year, the publishing executive visited Soon-Shiong in Los Angeles and saw the company's technology first-hand, Soon-Shiong said.

"The entrepreneur said his technology has helped blind people recognize print money and encouraged children to brush their teeth via an app called the Disney Magic Timer.

"'We thought we could take this amazing technology and transition from what I'm doing in health care into the future of publishing,' he said."

So, a sticker every time someone reads a newspaper?

*

"Soon-Shiong also is a co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, a marquee professional sports team in Tribune's biggest media market. Soon-Shiong said he planned to speak with LA Times management about how the paper and team could work together."

Like I said, these guys are all the same.

-

P.S.: "Theories aside, the immediate effect of Ferro and Soon-Shiong's deal is to screw the rest of Tribune Publishing's shareholders," Rick Edmonds writes for the Poynter Institute. "For the second time this year (Ferro's own $44 million investment was the first) the value of their stock has been diluted by issuance of more shares."

-

P.P.S.:

*

-

Chicagoetry: The Conversation
Two teenagers on the Blue Line.

$2 A Day In Chicago
Bill Clinton didn't reform welfare, he killed it.

NFL Tried To Fix Concussion Study
And stuck taxpayers with the cost.

Lobbyist Wrote Pro-Hillary Op-Ed
Super PAC edited it.

24 Hours With XFHS TV
Xfinity help and support.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Tupper Ware Remix Party, The Obsessed, Rhys Chatham, The Great Ache, Walking On Cars, Moderat, Boston, and Matt Corby.

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Catching up with . . .

Last Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: A Giant Dog, Lord Mantis, Hivelords, Tombs, Lykanthea, Fastness, The Looking, Bernhoft, Enter Shikari, Sixx:A.M., Miss May I, For Today, Memphis May Fire, Casey Abrams, The Used, Organsm, HENRYxCHINASKI, The Misfits, and Patti Smith.

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BeachBook

Gina Schock.

*

*

*

*

*

*

Disappointingly, this article didn't mention the demo version included on the remastered 25th anniversary edition of Agents of Fortune. It's phenomenal. See also my Bin Dive of the record.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Copy your work.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Tupper Ware Remix Party at the Elbo Room on Friday night.


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2. The Obsessed at Beat Kitchen on Sunday night.

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3. Rhys Chatham (with opener Natural Information Society) at the Constellation on Friday night.

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4. The Great Ache at Moe's Tavern on Saturday night.

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5. Walking On Cars at Subterranean on Sunday night.

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6. Moderat at the Concord on Saturday night.

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7. Boston at Rosemont Theatre on Friday night.

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8. Matt Corby at the Vic on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With XFHS

Because you're gonna need it.

2 a.m.: Xfinity TV Help & Support

4 a.m.: Stream Live TV & DVR Shows

5 a.m.: Stream Live TV & DVR Shows

6 a.m.: Xfinity TV Help & Support

10 a.m.: Xfinity TV Help & Support

2 p.m.: Xfinity TV Help & Support

6 p.m.: Xfinity TV Help & Support

9 p.m.: Xfinity TV Help & Support

10 p.m.: Xfinity TV Help & Support

2 a.m.: Xfinity TV Help & Support

-

Previously:
* 24 Hours With QVC
* 24 Hours With Tru TV
* 24 Hours With Current TV
* 24 Hours With The Military Channel
* 24 Hours With The Hallmark Channel
* 24 Hours With TVGN
* 24 Hours With Retroplex
* 24 Hours With Penthouse TV
* 24 Hours With The DIY Network
* 24 Hours With BET
* 24 Hours With CNBC
* 24 Hours With WWMEB
* 24 Hours With PRISM TV
* 24 Hours With Al Jazeera America.
* 24 Hours With Fuse.
* 24 Hours With Pop TV.
* 24 Hours With BET Soul.
* 24 Hours With BabyTV.
* 24 Hours With Jewelry Television.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:44 AM | Permalink

Pro-Clinton Super PAC Caught Astroturfing On Social Media, Op-Ed Pages

An anti-Bernie Sanders column allegedly penned by Atlanta's "influential" Democratic Mayor Kasim Reed ahead of Georgia's Super Tuesday primary appears to have been "primarily written by a corporate lobbyist" and "edited by Correct the Record, one of several pro-Clinton Super PACs," according to The Intercept.

"Sanders' record is simply not strong when compared to Obama and Clinton," Reed's Op-Ed said, "both of whom have prioritized reducing gun violence in our cities and across our country."

The piece continued:

Sanders assumes his single-issue platform will help everyone, but only Clinton's plans work from the ground up to identify and break down barriers unique to African-American families. For the single mother riding two buses to her second job, Sanders' one-issue platform just doesn't cut it. And for the poor child in Flint, Michigan, forced to drink tainted water from a government tap, Sanders' Wall Street-focused message doesn't carry weight.

But e-mails released from Reed's office suggest that the mayor himself had little to do with the Op-Ed.

Indeed, Anne Torres, the mayor's director of communications, told The Intercept's Lee Fang that "the column was not written by the mayor, but by Tharon Johnson, a former Reed adviser who now works as a lobbyist for UnitedHealth, Honda, and MGM Resorts, among other clients. The column's revisions by staffers from Correct the Record are documented in the e-mails."

Reed "provided verbal edits and feedback to Tharon, but other than that, no one from my office or the mayor's office wrote this Op-Ed," Torres said.

Neither Johnson nor Correct the Record, a Super PAC formed by Republican-turned-Democrat strategist David Brock, responded to Fang's request for comment.

Correct the Record drew fire last month after pledging to spend $1 million to "push back against" anti-Clinton posts on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Instagram.

A press release from the Super PAC said: "Lessons learned from online engagement with 'Bernie Bros' during the Democratic Primary will be applied to the rest of the primary season and general election - responding quickly and forcefully to negative attacks and false narratives. Additionally, as the general election approaches, the task force will begin to push out information to Sanders supporters online, encouraging them to support Hillary Clinton."

As Shadowproof's Kevin Gosztola wrote at the time:

Although the Super PAC frames the launch of this project as an effort to "defend" Clinton, it really is an offensive information operation against the Sanders campaign, the campaign's most passionate supporters, and any voters, who may question whether Clinton should be the next president of the United States . . .

What is particularly troubling about the project to combat users on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram is that users may not realize they are targets of Correct The Record's information operation. The project apparently has no plan to announce their membership in this task force. They will likely select users, who are popular, and go after them until those users are overwhelmed to a point where their expression of their opinions are drowned out by the task force's response to their online activity . . .

The Clinton campaign, and in particular, Correct The Record, is so filled with conceit that it thinks, in the middle of the Democratic primary when there are over a thousand pledged delegates to still be awarded, that they can target the "attacks" or criticisms of Clinton by Sanders supporters published on social media and then push campaign propaganda at these same supporters that will convince them to support Clinton. It is incredibly vain, and an example of how the Clinton campaign has believed all along that it is entitled to support from Democratic voters.

"There would be no need for a 'digital task force,'" Gosztola wrote, "if the Clinton campaign did not fear that Americans are learning too much about how Clinton is beholden to corporate and special interests, which will heavily influence her as president."

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:14 AM | Permalink

NFL Tried To Fix Concussion Study

"At least a half-dozen top NFL health officials waged an improper, behind-the-scenes campaign last year to influence a major U.S. government research study on football and brain disease, congressional investigators have concluded in a new report," ESPN's Outside the Lines reports.

"The 91-page report describes how the NFL pressured the National Institutes of Health to strip the $16 million project from a prominent Boston University researcher and tried to redirect the money to members of the league's committee on brain injuries. The study was to have been funded out of a $30 million 'unrestricted gift' the NFL gave the NIH in 2012.

"After the NIH rebuffed the NFL's campaign to remove Robert Stern, an expert in neurodegenerative disease who has criticized the league, the NFL backed out of a signed agreement to pay for the study, the report shows. Taxpayers ended up bearing the cost instead."

From Outside the Lines:

*

"NESN.com's Keely Flanagan breaks down the newest Congressional report."

*

"A congressional investigation has found that the NFL tried to influence how a concussion study was conducted."

*

Trailer: Concussion.

*

New this week from former Bear Tommie Harris:

Hear the interview here.

*

"For U.S. college football players, head impacts that don't cause concussion symptoms do still cause subtle and lingering changes in the eyes' ability to focus, according to a new study," Reuters reported last week.

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Previously:

* Bob Probert's Broken Brain.

* NFL Players Killing Themselves Because They Miss Football So Much.

* The College Football Report: Dementia Pugilistica.

* Blackhawks Playing Head Games.

* Jay Cutler Should Consider Retiring.

* Dislike: Friday Night Tykes.

* Hurt And Be Hurt: The Lessons Of Youth Sports.

* Chicago Soccer Player Patrick Grange Had CTE.

* Sony Softened Concussion To Placate NFL.

* Ultra-Realistic Madden To Simulate Game's Debilitating Concussions.

* Dear Football: I'm Breaking Up With You.

* Dead College Football Player's Brain Leaves Clues Of Concussions' Toll On Brain.

* More Bad Concussion News For Young Football Players.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:19 AM | Permalink

$2 A Day In Chicago

"The opening chapter of $2.00 a Day describes a Chicago mother whom the authors call Modonna Harris," Christopher Jencks writes in the New York Review of Books.

"Harris graduated from high school and then took out loans to attend a private university. However, she got no financial help from her divorced parents, and when she hit her student loan ceiling at the end of her second year, she dropped out. Misadventures in love followed, and after her marriage broke up she had a child to support. The best job she could find was as a cashier, but after eight years her employer fired her because her cash drawer was $10 short. The store eventually found the missing $10, but it did not rehire Harris.

"Harris looked for new jobs, without success. After her unemployment benefits ran out, a friend noticed that Harris had no food in her apartment for herself or her child and persuaded her to apply for TANF. The welfare office opened at 8:30 a.m., so Harris showed up at 8. At least on that particular day, however, there were only enough appointment slots for applicants who had joined the line in the rain outside the welfare office before 7:30. After waiting most of the day, Harris left without having been given a chance to apply, convinced that TANF would never help her.

"It is tempting to say that Harris was too easily discouraged. However, it is also tempting to say that in Illinois, as in most other states, TANF's primary goal is not to protect children whose parents cannot find work by ensuring that their family has shelter, heat, light, food, and shoes, but to cut program costs by reducing the number of recipients. (California, which now accounts for a third of all TANF recipients, is a partial exception to this rule.)

"State efforts to cut the TANF rolls have been quite effective. The overall unemployment rate, which is a fairly good proxy for how hard it is to find work, was almost twice as high in 2009 as in 1996. Yet the number of families getting TANF in 2009 was less than half the number getting AFDC in 1996."

*

What happened in 1996? Bill Clinton's welfare reform, also known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.

"Until 1996 single mothers with no income were eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children. [Authors] Edin and Shaefer argue that extreme poverty rose after 1996 because Congress replaced AFDC with an even less generous welfare program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Because TANF benefits are much harder to get than AFDC benefits were, parents who cannot find a job are more likely to find themselves penniless."

*

"One basic goal of welfare reform in the 1990s was to 'make work pay,' and the Clinton administration created a new system that did just that. Instead of giving parents more help when they could not find work, the new system gives parents more help when they find and keep a steady low-wage job. When Modonna Harris worked as a cashier, Edin and Shaefer estimate that her take-home pay was about $1,325 a month. The government topped that up with another $160 a month in food stamps.

"The Clinton administration also persuaded Congress to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit between 1993 and 1996, so when Harris was working she got a check from the US Treasury for about $3,800 a few weeks after filing her federal tax return. That check provided her with an additional $317 a month. Overall, the government supplemented Harris's paycheck with benefits worth $477 a month. Once she lost her job, she stopped accumulating EITC benefits. Her food stamp benefits rose from $160 to $367 a month, but she was still getting $110 a month less than she had from food stamps and the EITC when she had a monthly paycheck."

*

From a book excerpt via WBUR:

"It is only 8:00 a.m., half an hour ahead of opening time, but already a long line has formed outside the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) office, which sits on a barren block west of Chicago's Loop. It is a wet summer morning, one of those odd times when the rain is falling but the sun still shines. People are hunkered down, some shielding themselves from the rain with umbrellas or hoods, others holding sodden newspapers and thin plastic grocery bags over their heads. This two-story, yellow-brick office building- windowless on the first floor - is where those seeking help come to apply for programs such as SNAP and Medicaid. But traditionally it has been linked most closely to the nation's now nearly moribund cash assistance program, what many refer to as welfare.

"Modonna Harris shuffles to the end of the line. A friend, noticing that Modonna had no food in her tiny apartment, convinced her to make the trip. She and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Brianna, have been living in a North Side homeless shelter during this summer of 2012. The shelter provides dinner during the week, and Brianna gets breakfast and lunch through a local nonprofit recreation program, but Modonna and Brianna often go hungry on weekends. The shelter's residents can usually count on a 'guy who drops off some surplus food' from an unknown source, but recently all he's brought is nasty-smelling milk well beyond its expiration date.

"When asked why she hasn't applied for welfare, Modonna shrugs. Actually, it hasn't even occurred to her. She explains, 'I've been through this before, and I've been turned down . . . They did send me a letter. But they just say, You're not eligible, they don't explain why.'

"How could she not be eligible, she wondered, without even one cent in cash income and a child to provide for? Her aunt's explanation is simple: Hasn't she heard? They just aren't giving it out anymore. To Modonna, that seemed as good an answer as any.

"'I don't actually know anybody who is getting it. And, you know, when my auntie was saying that, I'm thinking, Okay, well maybe that's making sense of why I didn't get it' . . . I'm like, Okay, maybe that's it.'

"Despite her now desperate circumstances, Modonna was deeply reluctant even to go to the DHS office and apply for the cash welfare program. Finally, after much persuasion, she relented."

Click through for the rest.

*

Edin's dissertation at Northwestern: "There's A Lot Of Month Left At The End Of The Money: How Welfare Recipients In Chicago Make Ends Meet."

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Previously in Kathryn Edin:

* From "Who Turned My Blue State Red?:"

"Meanwhile, researchers such as Kathryn Edin, of Johns Hopkins University, have pinpointed a tendency by Americans in the second lowest quintile of the income ladder - the working or lower-middle class - to dissociate themselves from those at the bottom, where many once resided.

"'There's this virulent social distancing - suddenly, you're a worker and anyone who is not a worker is a bad person,' said Edin. 'They're playing to the middle fifth and saying, I'm not those people.'"

* From PBS NewsHour via Midland Awards | Galileo's Middle Finger, Brain Ghosts & Stonewall:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: The Conversation

The Conversation

Two Hispanic teenagers sat behind me
On the train, talking about
Their schools: the honors programs,

The bullies, the sports, the opportunities.
I think they got on
At Western, on the southwest Blue Line.

My mind was all Gene Hackman
In "The Conversation,"
Honing in on the equivalent

Of Cindy Williams and
Frederic Forrest,
Listening, remembering:

"I was struggling in my honors class
And my dad said I just had to study harder.
He's really proud."

"I was really quiet, you know,
I was good at English but
If you did well on a test

Or a paper the other girls
Would be all making fun of you
And being bitter.

So I just stayed quiet."

"Our sports teams were
Really good. Our baseball team
Came in second one year

And our basketball team
Came in first two years
In a row.

I really liked that school."

"We had this honors program
But you couldn't get in
Unless someone had to leave.

The parents
Would put their kids in
And not take them out

Even if they didn't belong."
Then both had to respond to their
Dads texting them, at the same time,

In Spanish,

Wanting to know where they were.
"Wait, what does that even mean?!"
She repeated a phrase

In Spanish.
"I think that's a typo."
"Oh, OK, I get it now."

She made a call
And had a brief
Exchange with her dad

In Spanish.

They got off at Austin,
Each to meet their dad
To continue on home.

I was freaking out!
Here's the deal:
They were good kids.

They were good kids.
I was thinking
This, too, is Chicago.

This, too, is America.
There's a lot of yammer
On the CTA, most of it

Not what you'd really
Care to overhear,
Let alone remember.

You clench, you scan,
You itch to get
The hell home.

I could have listened
To these two kids
All day.

They were good kids
And I'll never forget them.
This, too, is Chicago.

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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 12:41 AM | Permalink

May 23, 2016

SportsMonday: A Kick In The Balls

Does it even matter if Draymond Green kicked Steven Adams in the balls on purpose?

It does not.

After review, the refs made the correct foul call - a flagrant 1, during the second quarter of Oklahoma City's beatdown of the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night that gave the Thunder a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals. Now the right call will be for the NBA to suspend Green for the Warriors' next playoff game Tuesday night.

And oh by the way, the kick was too extreme to be anything other than intentional, i.e., there is no way Green's leg came up that far just because he was kicking out his feet in the aftermath of being fouled on a jump shot - an action that many shooters engage in. But that is not the primary concern.

And that is because the Intent in this situation is unknowable. All you have is the result, which was Green's leg making significant contact with Adams' groin. You also have Green's overall behavior in the series, which has been just short of unhinged - if he hasn't been crashing into Adams on other drives, he has been leaning in behind him to talk trash.

All that stuff makes it awfully difficult to give Green the benefit of the doubt. But even if you could, you still have a play that was clearly a flagrant cheap shot. Suspend that man!

Be aware that I am not objective when it comes to these games. When Oklahoma City scored a massive upset in the conference semifinals, knocking off a San Antonio Spurs team that everyone had picked to win, the Thunder earned me as a fan. That fandom will run out after the current series, but I am in with Oklahoma City until then.

I can't stand the Spurs. Gregg Popovich is one of the most overrated coaches in the history of sports. Yes they've won a bunch of championships, but no, Popovich is not the gold standard when it comes to coaching, at least not yet. Let's see what he can do when Tim Duncan retires. Although Popovich might just decide to retire with Duncan so there may never be the satisfaction of watching the coach's team take a step back without the man in the middle.

The main source of my antipathy for the Spurs is that everyone has long since forgotten that Popovich scammed his way into the coaching job, screwing the guy, Bob Hill, who had the job before him. And he sold out competitive integrity to totally tank a season to win a lottery to get Duncan in the first place, then named himself coach and teamed up Duncan with David Robinson to form the core of the Spurs' first few championships.

So I reveled in the Thunder knocking off the Spurs. And if they can go on to upset the Warriors as well it will be such an impressive upset that I can't help but root for that outcome.

Then it ends. Oklahoma City after all, is the team that used to be the Seattle SuperSonics. And when Seattle wouldn't give David Stern's NBA a massive public subsidy for a new stadium (and thereby reduce funding for all those other pesky things that government funds, like education and services for the downtrodden), Stern engineered the team's departure.

Barring an even bigger upset than Thunder over Spurs, Cleveland will win the East and make the NBA finals. And if the Cavaliers can knock off either the Warriors or the Thunder, they will break Cleveland's over 50-year streak of losing. The last Cleveland team to win a championship was the 1964 Browns.

If Cleveland can win, on top of Leicester City winning its first Premiere League championship in Great Britain earlier this year after more than 130 years of losing (local angle alert!), you know who's going to win next, don't you?

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Jim Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:39 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons

Let's take a closer look at some of the policies announced today.


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See also: Woman In £1,000,000 Hat Tells Britain To 'Live Within Its Means.'

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Previously in Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter!:

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

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Plus:

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And:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:19 AM | Permalink

Uncovering The Stark Disparities Behind School Money

Why do many school districts fail to meet the needs of their students?

One commonly cited response is our country's disparate school funding system; because most districts rely heavily on local property tax for funding, schools in poor districts are often left with fewer resources than schools in wealthier areas.

Even though school funding issues play out on a local level, in recent decades, it's risen to the forefront of national issues. This past year, for the 10th year in a row, a national Gallup poll found that Americans view lack of financial support as the largest problem facing America's schools.

But can more money really fix America's struggling, poor schools? That is exactly what NPR's Cory Turner and a team of over 20 NPR member-station reporters wanted to find out.

After six months of investigating, Turner and his team published a series of stories digging into school funding disparities from Chicago to Sumter County, Alabama.

ProPublica education reporter Annie Waldman spoke with Turner to learn more about their investigation.

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A few highlights from our conversation:

Nearly every state in the country has been faced with a school funding lawsuit.

Turner: Some 45 states have had school funding lawsuits. It also became clear to me very quickly that these lawsuits are a symptom of a much broader ailment, which is how we pay for our schools, and why it is that school money is so inequitable in so many different places, which, again, as we explained in the reporting, not every time, but quite often, boils down to disparities in local property tax revenue.

The story of America's school funding system starts with an unlikely character: Satan. Well, sort of.

Turner: It really goes to the back to the Old Deluder Satan Law when the Massachusetts Bay Colonists basically said, "Look. If we want every child to be able to read the Bible, then every child needs to be able to read. It is in the best interest of the Colony that every child be taught to read, and as such, any village of 50 or more people needs to pay up for a teacher."

I mean, you can see it in the law too. They're not just talking to parents. They're talking to everybody. It was captured in law. It was codified in law, this idea that educating the Colony's children, or you can extrapolate that to today, the nation's children, is in the best interests of all citizens. That's what so interested me with the Old Deluder Satan Law, as it's known now.

School funding inequities often stem from antiquated segregationist policies.

Turner: The challenge is when so much of that funding depends on local affluence and local school district lines, it's informed in a big way by old segregationist housing policy. You know? I mean, this is the nation we live in, and the fact is, there are an awful lot of school districts that are low-wealth, low-income districts, and they just don't have the same capacity to fundraise as other more affluent districts. That's just a fact. Some states have been very progressive about reckoning with that and using state dollars collected at the state level to help offset some, if not much, of that imbalance. But lots of other states just haven't done much, if anything, about it.

Working with a team of over 20 NPR member stations is no easy task.

Turner: We created a gigantic spreadsheet that has every reporter, every reporter's phone number, e-mail and a quick logline of the story. I mean, I spent hours with this spreadsheet. This is kind of insane, I actually at one point cut them all out into these little tiny strips of paper and I just taped them on the wall and started rearranging them or clustering them to figure out, this is very early in the process, just to see, "Do I have too much overlap? Do I have too much, too many stories that are basically rich school/poor school?"

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See NPR's School Money: The Cost of Opportunity.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:59 AM | Permalink

Sneaker Con "Chicago"

More like Sneaker Con Schaumburg, because that's where it was held on Saturday.

Let's take a look.

1. First, here's what this dude packed for his trip from California.


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2. A vlog to give you a general idea.

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3. Success!

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4. Fail!

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5. Cross-marketing, or something.

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6. Flames not included.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:24 AM | Permalink

Slump Busters

So this is what a slump feels like when your team is still really good.

Can't say that the Cubs themselves and the fans didn't need some reality in their lives. Week after week of insane record-breaking or matching or last times since 1907ing was starting to feel really weird.

Like, let's just have a good year, get completely healthy come October and stay a good six to 10 games in front of everyone in the division and we can call it a good season and take our chances in the payoffs.

The pressure will be enormous anyway, why tack on the extra burden of an insanely good record and all of that? Not sure if it would matter, but yeah, I'm kinda OK not lighting the baseball world on fire and just cruising to the playoffs.

But first things first, these guys need to get out of this slump. With this in mind we here at The Cub Factor have come up with a few slump-buster options for the 2016 season:

* Pin the appendage on Clark contest.

* Sign even more catchers. Looks like old standby Koyie Hill might be available.

* Crazy hat-wearing contest.

* Create your own natural disaster.

* Just get hammered in the beer garden which is not just a beer garden.

* Old school.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-4 for the week, losing two of three to both the Brewers and Giants. Not a good week. But they at least beat Dusty's Nationals a while back and, yeah, I'm still happy about that because I hate him a lot.

Week in Preview: The boys in blue head to St. Louis for three with the Cardinals before coming home for a weekend set with the Phillies. I'll be going to the game on Friday and I'm looking forward to seeing how things are progressing down there. Well, I'll mostly be thinking, I remember when I actually remembered what the place and surrounding area looked like. As someone who always uses landmarks to get around, I'm sure I'll be pretty confused. If you are watching on TV, I'll be the guy without the W flag, and in the Shooter 47 jersey.

Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. Hey, look who decided to show up? George Sun got five starts this week in left and made the most out of them. He even didn't totally suck in the outfield (I think he should of caught that one on Sunday night though). Kris Bryant got the other two starts in left. And now Szczur is back and Jason Heyward is a little dinged up. So the music will not be stopping anytime soon.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: In 2006 the Cubs took Tyler Colvin in the first round. That kinda didn't work out. He was never annoying per se, but he was just one of the up-and-coming guys who came and went. I do sort of feel bad for guys like Colvin these days. He'd be a perfect Brewer right now; a cheap guy who is OK and is a slot taker-upper while you tank your season. He could have probably stuck around for a bit longer these days in baseball, but yeah, he is not missed.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: I'm growing a bit tired of seeing Tim Federowicz coming up in big spots. Or any spots, really. I know the third catcher is supposed to be a defense-first guy but, wait, is there a rule on what the third catcher is supposed to be? So far his OBP is .217 for the season, and his listed weight is 215. So after a trip to the buffet table or the soft serve machine, he will probably weigh more than his OBP. Not so good. We already have a defense only/extra coach/old man mascot on the team in David Ross. And Ross's hitting this season is already a bonus, so yeah, I'm not so jacked up about this Federowicz deal.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe just couldn't shut up about George Sun. He even went as so far to say that he saw a major league player out there. And well, I mean, Jorge is a major league player kind of already. He is on a team in the major leagues and really that's all the criteria you need to technically be a major league player. But sure, I'm picking up on what Joe is putting down. He's playing the long game with Jorge and pumping him up. It's a bit transparent, but it's never a bad thing to give guys a pat on the back like that. Joe seems to know what he is doing.

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the Phillies game at Wrigley on Friday in the bleachers will receive a '90s visor from Budweiser. I lived through the '90s and I can't remember owning a visor. I also can't remember drinking a Budweiser. Sure, I was right out of high school, but it was painters' caps and Old Style the whole way (although I think painters' caps were more of an '80s thing).

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it'll be hard to keep your wallet closed in Rickettsville.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

May 22, 2016

Video Vexation

I'm still not sure about this replay review that's in its third season of use in MLB. In this Instagram-Twitter world, I don't ignore that fact that the technology is available to try to make every umpire's decision accurate. Nor am I opposed to tweaking the game to make it better.

But I have questions, ranging from the mundane to the pertinent.

I continue to be amused every time it takes two - not just one - umpires to apply the earphones for contact with the people in New York who make the ultimate decision. I can only assume that this is perpetuated for security purposes. Like what if an umpire is crooked or his ego won't permit his decision to be overturned? Is the second ump listening so that no one can disregard instructions from Review Central? Has it never occurred to Commissioner Rob Manfred that the fellows looking at those screens might also keep observing long enough to make certain that their instructions are followed?

That's the mundane.

Consider that there are almost 300 pitches thrown in a major league game. This is where the vast majority of umpires' decisions are made. Yet there is no mechanism for a player or manager to challenge any of these calls unless he wishes to risk a command to leave the premises. No, the calling of balls and strikes is sacred. The home plate umpire - with the exception of a checked swing - is the lone judge. At the risk of prolonging games, maybe MLB should consider giving a manager a couple of challenges on balls and strikes.

I thought about this Friday night at The Cell as the White Sox lost a 4-1 decision to the World Series champion Kansas City Royals, one of four losses suffered by our athletes last week as they dropped series' to the Royals and Astros. The Sox have now dropped two-of-three in four consecutive series.

The Sox are in the middle of the pack when it comes to striking out. Sixteen teams have struck out more often than the Sox and 13 less frequently. Furthermore, Robin Ventura's crew gets called out on strikes a tick more than 20 percent of the time.

However, on Friday, Royals' pitchers recorded 10 strikeouts, and the statistics were the exact opposite from what they had been in the Sox's first 41 games. Eight Sox hitters were called out looking. I can't say for sure because the video boards at the ballpark wouldn't dare screen a replay of a called strike three, but I suspect - judging from a fairly large sample - that some of those third strikes weren't strikes at all.

Apparently Adam Eaton, who was called out by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, an 18-year veteran, to end the game, agrees with me because he was so incensed that he had to be restrained by Ventura when he charged Wendelstedt to inform him in no uncertain terms exactly how he felt about the guy's judgement.

In one of the more bizarre responses in history, Wendelstedt kicked Eaton out of a game that had already ended. Talk about judgement! At least we have the answer to a trivia question that will live a lot longer than any of us.

(Note: Sox pitchers fanned seven Royals on Friday, all on swinging strike threes. Not one Royal was called out on strikes. Ten times Royals' hitters had two strikes in the count without being called out later in the at-bat. This is what happens when a team - I'm talking about the White Sox - can't buy a win.)

Jose Quintana was sailing along through five innings, pitching as effectively as he has at any time this season. However, the Royals slashed three doubles and two singles in the sixth to take a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, with Luke Hochevar pitching for Kansas City, Avisail Garcia was called out on a 2-2 pitch before Alex Avila walked on a full count. Austin Jackson followed by also being called out on strikes by Wendelstedt to end the inning.

Hochevar has great control. In his previous seven appearances, he hadn't walked anyone. Possibly he didn't have his best command on Friday. Let's say that Wendelstedt blew the call on Garcia, creating a full count. In his career, Garcia has fanned about 45 percent of the time when he faces a 2-2 count. With a full count, the percentage predictably goes down to 24 percent. Garcia reaches base almost half the time with a 3-2 count. So if Wendelstedt erred on the call, Garcia's chances of reaching base would have increased by about half.

A similar situation occurred in the third inning with two out. Todd Frazier reached on an error, and Melky Cabrera followed with a hit to bring Brett Lawrie to the plate. Wendelstedt called him out on another 2-2 count. Lawrie's on-base percentage increases to .453 with a full count versus .175 on 2-2. He's a .272 hitter on full counts, but, of course, the at-bat never got that far.

Having been at the game, I still don't know whether the Sox simply were helpless with two strikes - in which case Wendelstedt would have been supported by video replay - or whether the ump took the bats out of their hands. I do know that after paying for a ticket, parking, and a beer (well, actually my pal Tom bought the beer), I was out a hundred bucks. Had I stayed home and watched on TV, I would have known right away whether the calls were accurate. I haven't audited my cable bill recently, but I know one thing: a Sox telecast doesn't cost $100.

It's as though fans in the park are penalized by not enjoying the same video accoutrements as the people viewing at home. While Hawk Harrelson frequently critiques an umpire's performance often using PitchTrax to back up his criticism, not one called strike three is replayed at the ballpark. If a Sox player makes an error or gets picked off first base, there's no way the paying spectators will ever see it again.

The perks the fans at The Cell do receive include a group of perky 20-somethings throwing cheap t-shirts to the crowd twice a game similar to zookeepers tempting seals with dead fish.

Meanwhile, the new videoboards at The Cell are huge and impressive. However, aside from a lack of replays, the information disclosed is at best inadequate. Few people keep score anymore, so it's helpful if fans can see what a hitter has done in his previous appearances. The Sox post that information in left field but only briefly as the screen switches to an ad or the Sox logo before the hitter either is retired or reaches base. We find out what a hitter is batting against left- or right-handed pitching, but information and replays of the game on the field is sketchy.

Can it be that the folks operating the boards don't know much about baseball? They seem more focused on the music, showing snapshots of fans, and in non-baseball entertainment. Maybe they have determined that this is what people want.

As far as what's happening during the game in progress, you learn far more by staying home. Maybe Sox personnel should travel to a game at Wrigley Field, where every play is replayed on the videoboard for the fans in attendance, and balls and strikes are posted at lightning-fast speed.

Clearly I must be in the minority since the weekend series against the Royals drew an average of 28,726 fans who saw the Sox score a total of only five runs in the three games. Quintana was joined by starters Miguel Gonzalez on Saturday and Carlos Rodon on Sunday for a trio of solid performances. In Sunday's 3-2 victory, giving the Sox a 26-18 season record, the bullpen of Matt Albers, Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson retired the final seven Royals to preserve the win.

Until Frazier, who was 0-for-8 in the two previous games, hit a game-tying home run on Sunday, and Cabrera's clutch two-out, two-run hit in the fifth inning, the Sox could muster little offense during the week. The biggest culprit has been Jose Abreu, who sat on the bench Sunday after going a combined 4-for-20 in the Astros and Royals series'.

Abreu had a chance to win the game last Tuesday in a 5-3, 11-inning loss to Houston. With the game tied in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and runners at first and third, Jose grounded out to send the game into overtime. In Saturday's 2-1 loss, the big guy hit into a double-play with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh inning.

The Sox closest pursuer, the Cleveland Indians, invade The Cell at 4 p.m. Monday for a doubleheader before single games Tuesday and Wednesday. Then it's on to Kansas City for four games to complete a week that will tell whether the Sox are legitimate contenders or simply fast starters.

It will take a refreshed and efficient Abreu and continued production from Frazier and Cabrera - along with pitching like the Sox enjoyed over the weekend - to fight off challenges from the Indians and Royals. All that and not leaving it up to the plate umpire to call "Strike Three!" without a challenge.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:05 PM | Permalink

May 21, 2016

TrackNotes: Post-Preakness

Exaggerator, son of the millennial all-timer Curlin, and under the savvy ride of an experienced Kent Desormeaux, used Nyquist's precociousness against him to win the 141st Preakness Stakes, dashing Nyquist's hopes of a Triple Crown.

Yeah, the angle for Exaggerator was the mud, but he won this race. He won it.

Sending Nyquist right out of the gate, it appeared the named-after-a-hockey-player horse wanted to run away and hide, slop or no, and maybe not to get dirty.

He led the first quarter in a too-fast, as it turned out, 22 and one, although we'll say it became a bit more logical with a 46 and three for the second quarter.

Exaggerator was behind so far early, announcer Larry Collmus got nervous. But Desormeaux was on the rail, in the water, saving ground.

Uncle Lino, at least minimally a half-brother to Nyquist out of the Uncle Mo love shack, pressed Nyquist all the way. Earn it, bro.

But Nyquist was actually green. Or was it Mario Gutierrez? He sent the horse and the horse said "OK, let's go!" It was a samurai mission.

But don't take anything from Exaggerator. He seen his duty and he done it.

Desormeaux's mounted interview after the race was fantastic.

Donna Brothers: "Your first of three Eclipse Awards came here 30 years ago largely in part of because of your accomplishments in Maryland. What's it mean to come back here with your brother and do this over this race track?"

Desormeaux: "Well, Donna, I'll say this about that. I was on the fence and they all stayed wide. These (Pimlico) turns you want to be paintin' the fence. We did, they didn't and I think, uh, not for nothin', but knowledge is power. He just slid up the fence."

Cherry Wine got up for second, the target of conversation I just didn't understand. But Nyquist screwed up his own pace, so why not?

The 12-furlong Belmont Stakes is such an unusual race, think of others, think of these, and contemplate a good summer.

Or hope for a good summer.

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See also Tom Chambers' Pre-Preakness report: Dumb Asses.

Excerpt: "First, the weather at Baltimore's Pimlico is forecasted as miserable. Cool and rainy all day. That changes the angle to Exaggerator, a veteran and winner on off tracks. He'll take a lot of money."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 PM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Dumb Asses

Was (or is) Floyd Mayweather good for boxing?

My buddy and I have debated Mayweather's legacy for a long time, sometimes to the point where we've had to just stop talking about it.

I don't like "Money." Don't like his "defensive" style - I see a runner - and he was one of the prime players in the fraud that was his fight against Manny Pacquiao, a bout that took six frickin' years to make. Their duplicity severely damaged the boxing pay-per-view business, which hasn't recovered since.

The same might be asked of American Pharoah and his herculean campaign in 2015, in which he won the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup Classic. Unprecedented. One big difference is that 'Pharoah and his human connections are so much more likeable than Mayweather's.

Without much conviction, as far as I was concerned, so many turf writers opined that 'Pharoah's quest would be "good for racing." The line felt forced, rung lazy.

But I'm too close to it. I remember Funny Cide, the modest New York-bred, whose Sackatoga Stables entourage would ride to the races in a yellow school bus.

Zenyatta, the 19-1 super mare, attracted women and children from all over Southern California, which was primarily the only place they let her run in a very highly managed career. Reminds me of Mayweather's fight card making.

The dumb asses at Dumb Ass Partners found themselves with a horse of a lifetime in California Chrome, but wiped out the goodwill they'd built when one of the owners cried all the way home after he was beaten in the Belmont. Their internecine squabbles hurt only 'Chrome, but his heroic win in March's Dubai World Cup has us watching him with great anticipation in 2016.

Ghostzapper, Smarty Jones, Flowers in May, Medaglia d' Oro, Mineshaft, Goldikova, Gio Ponti, to name just a few of my favorites.

Television ratings, wagering handle, level of interest by the general sports media. I guess those are the benchmarks of whether or not 'Pharoah was good for racing, whether his exciting exploits last year generated new interest in racing, or brought back players fleeing over the fleecing racing engages in these days.

So how did it go May 7th, when Nyquist fairly dominated a suspect field in the 142nd Kentucky Derby?

Television ratings sunk 14 percent from last year, which posted the highest overnight share since 1992. This despite former figure skater Johnny Weir's over-the-top flaming gay guy schtick. Even he seemed tired of it this year.

On the wagering front, betting was strong on the day but down 10% (at $124.7 million) on the Derby, the only race casual fans usually know about.

It didn't help when TVG.com, the AOL of America's online advanced deposit wagering houses, took down its own system 80 minutes before the Derby with a "readiness check." Hey Sparky, hands off the reboot button! Although maybe Sparky now sleeps with the fishes.

I have to wonder if the increased handle on the Derby was because after the first two, including Exaggerator, who finished second, odds were in double figures. The exotic bets had to have gone up.

Michael Dempsey at Turf 'N' Sport speculates that one problem is that the preps for the Derby, starting with the Holy Bull from Gulfstream in January, is not adequately covered on national television.

"Churchill Downs and the horse racing industry needs to get all of the final major preps televised, or the casual sports fan will have no idea who the 20 in the starting gate are," Dempsey writes.

Also, Nyquist ran just twice from his Breeders' Cup Juvenile win up to the Derby. Through no fault of mine, he was off my radar.

Nobody ever learns from history. Churchill Downs, abetted by the media, has positioned the Derby way too high as a singular race, if you're talking about the greatness of a horse. Mine That Bird, in only one example, didn't do a thing after his Derby.

Sure, now Nyquist is the only horse capable of winning the Triple Crown this year, but at least for this fan and player, we'll only know how great he is or will be at the end of the year. American Pharoah proved that. Besides the historic achievement of his Triple Crown, all of his other wins cemented his career, or at least his epic season.

Despite being undefeated now, if the last race Nyquist wins was this Derby, he's just another three-year-old who peaked in May.

Preakness Picks
So what about this 141st Preakness?

The big angle is that Nyquist (3-5 morning line) is a lock for this race but that the 10-furlong Belmont will doom him. Alright.

I'm still not convinced about him, as you can tell. He ran a very nice Derby, the only one who could create his own trip, which is all and everything in a Derby, stalking three and four back and exiting a very hot pace that fell apart on the last turn(!). Through traffic problems and fatigue, none of the others could close into it. Typical.

First, the weather at Baltimore's Pimlico is forecasted as miserable. Cool and rainy all day. That changes the angle to Exaggerator, a veteran and winner on off tracks. He'll take a lot of money.

Who else has a chance? Generally, once again, we see mediocre Beyer Speed Figures all around. Nyquist got a 103 for the Derby, three figures, I believe, simply because it was the Derby. Gift.

But I do see the 11 horse, Stradivari (8-1 ML), whose Beyer jumped 21 points to 100 in a Keeneland allowance race last out. Bob Baffert's been mum on his Collected (10-1 ML), winner of his last two, including the Grade III Lexington last out. Uncle Lino (20-1 ML) seems like he'll be challenged in the mud. Abiding Star is the obigatory local boy, winner of his last five with mud experience. Good: He's the son of Uncle Mo and out of a Dynaformer mare. Bad: He's the obligatory local boy. High altitude company here.

Ordinarily, it's Nyquist. But the mud in the face will be the intriguing factor. Watch the weather and try to hear if they say the track is sealed, which will speed it up a bit.

My focus will be on Stradivari, Collected and Exaggerator, at no less than 3-1.

NBCSN kicks it off at 1:30 and the big NBC signs on at 4.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Like potholes, maddeningly long TSA lines are hardly just a Chicago concern. It would be nice if local media coverage placed the problems we're having here in a national context.

For example, CBS This Morning produced this piece over a month ago about security lines doubling at airports around the nation. As you can see, the head of the TSA even went to Seattle and met with airport officials there amidst local talk of replacing federal screeners with privatized workers! I mean, I know Rahm Emanuel (and Dick Durbin et al) are acting as if they are the toughest hombres on the planet, ordering the TSA chief to O'Hare for a dressing down, but in reality this is just the latest in a long line of stops in which TSA officials are saying there isn't much they can do but thank you for inviting us here.

Watch:

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Pack your patience!

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Signature Building
"Another iconic Chicago skyscraper may be in line for a new name," AP reports. "The owner of the John Hancock Center is shopping the naming rights for the 47-year-old building to pay for a proposed redevelopment of a plaza in front of the Michigan Avenue building."

They should let it go back to its original name:

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John Hancock inherited a smuggling fortune and kept slaves, just so you know.

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John Footpenis works in alternative dispute resolution.

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Mell B
"Alderman Deb Mell agreed that the best way to build trust and relationships is to create a space for one-on-one interactions between people from different neighborhoods," according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, in their e-mail newsletter about an "On the Table" event it held earlier this month.

"She advocated a program where aldermen spend time in other wards to better understand the complexities facing each community."

I couldn't let this go without reminding readers what Mell admitted 17 months ago after Rahm Emanuel gave his teary apology speech about Laquan McDonald to the national media city council:

Ald. Deb Mell, 33rd, spoke about her relatively affluent North Side upbringing while urging her colleagues to help each other experience different parts of the city. "I'm from the North Side, and growing up we were taught don't go to the South Side. Don't go to the West Side. And that is absolutely wrong," she said. "What I would like to do in the future is go visit, go visit your ward offices and hang out in your ward and see what happens on the South Side and the West Side. And I invite you to come over to our side of the city."

You've had more than a year to visit some South and West Side wards, Deb. What are you waiting for?

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Also, from then:

Far South Side Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, followed shortly after Mell by blasting Chicagoans who haven't opened their eyes earlier to the fact that African-American neighborhoods have long been badly treated by police in a way that is only now getting attention because it was caught on a video recording.

"Ladies and gentlemen, if you've been living in a bubble, shame on you," Beale said.

At little shade from Mell's bubble.

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Maybe no South or West Side alderman wants to be the one who has to show her around.

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Ferguson DOJ Investigator In Chicago

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Your Fear Of Black Men Is Irrational
Made at AnySquared Studio, home of Beachwood HQ. Drop in for Studio Day!

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Related:


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Also related:

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Is still in pre-production.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #103: The Fevered Chicago Baseball Dream Is Dead
Cubs, White Sox spiraling into oblivion. Plus: Cy Sale And The Rubs; Bulls Offseason Going Great!; Bears 1st-Round Draft Pick Leonard Floyd Is Stuffing His Face Right Now; Absent Alshon; The Olympic Way; and The Nerds Who Are Ruining Horse Racing.

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True to form, the Cubs won easily in San Francisco on Friday night, post-podcast. The Cubs lose to bad teams, the White Sox lose to good teams.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "While the Seattle grunge bands had the commercial success, the Pacific Northwest's Riot Grrrl scene had an equally important legacy. Jim and Greg look back at feminist punk movement 25 years on. Then they review the new albums from Drake and Radiohead."

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BeachBook

Companies Are Stashing So Much Goddamn Cash Overseas.

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Mapping The Military Weaponry Of Illinois Police.

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TweetWood

How To Take A Ferris Bueller Day Off Without Getting Busted.

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Reminiscent of the Dolores Huerta ridiculousness. Also, Al Gore claimed he created the Internet and George H.W. Bush was amazed by a supermarket scanner!

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Fuck fear.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #103: Chicago's Fevered Baseball Dream Is Over

Cubs, White Sox spiraling into oblivion. Plus: Cy Sale And The Rubs; Bulls Offseason Going Great!; Bears 1st-Round Draft Pick Leonard Floyd Is Stuffing His Face Right Now; Absent Alshon; The Olympic Way; and The Nerds Who Are Ruining Horse Racing.


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SHOW NOTES

* 103.5.

:28: Cubs Nearing Magic Number For Elimination.

* Why The Cubs Are Betting On Joe Nathan.

* The Untouchable Tim Federowicz.

20:58: The White Sucks.

* White Sox Move Jimmy Rollins Down From No. 2 Spot In Batting Order.

* White Sox Ponder How To Get Mat Latos Back On Track.

According to the analytics, Latos was never on track. We regret our early season enthusiasm.

25:12: Cy Sale And The Rubs.

* What's It Like To Face Chris Sale? The Astros Tell All.

* MVP.

* Sale's Goal Now: Innings, Not Strikeouts.

* "Okay, the first thing people do in a situation like this is panic."

"Well, I think I'm doing it in the right order."

- "Deal Me Out," M*A*S*H

* Fire Robin Ventura.

44:22: Bulls Offseason Going Great!

* Sam Smith's Mock Draft 1.0!

* Jimmy Hollywood.

* John Ligmanowski, aka Johnny Ligs.

52:44: Bears 1st-Round Draft Pick Leonard Floyd Is Stuffing His Face Right Now.

* Setting alarms reminding him to eat.

58:31: Absent Alshon.

* Bears Wish He Was At Pretend Voluntary Workouts Which Are Really Mandatory And If You Don't Show Up Something's Wrong.

1:00:00: The Olympic Way.

* IOC: Sochi Doping Allegations Could Show 'Unprecedented Criminality.'

* Tokyo 2020 Olympics Beset By Corruption Investigations.

1:04:53: Are Nerds Ruining Horse Racing?

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STOPPAGE: 8:14

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:37 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"In an unprecedented move, city attorneys on Friday offered to admit to a federal jury that a code of silence exists in the Chicago Police Department if it meant Mayor Rahm Emanuel would not have to testify about it at the upcoming trial involving two whistleblower cops," the Tribune reports.

Because presumably only bad things can happen when you get Rahm Emanuel under oath - and before a jury. City attorneys would admit to being the real killers O.J. Simpson has been looking for if it meant they could keep Rahm off the stand.

*

I originally was going to use Jimmy Hoffa in that line but I wondered if younger readers would know who Hoffa was.

I also considered using the Zodiac Killer in that line, but we already know who that really is. Plus, that's a really stale meme. As is Hoffa. And O.J.

*

"But U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman rebuffed the idea, saying he was standing by his ruling earlier this week that Emanuel must take the witness stand to answer questions about the code of silence."

Hooboy!

"Feinerman said that even though he was 'reluctant' to take up the mayor's valuable time and cause a media circus by having him testify, he believed Emanuel could offer 'much more texture' to the existence of the code of silence if he testified about it rather than have the city's lawyers offer a written stipulation."

I'm not sure if "texture" is the word we're looking for here, but ok.

"Feinerman said he agreed with attorneys for the whistleblower cops that the mayor's testimony 'would provide further evidence of an unwritten policy and practice.' Emanuel could 'speak to the pervasiveness of the problem,' the judge said."

Disagree. I don't think Rahm knows jack squat about the inner workings of the police department, and when he "admitted" there was a code of silence, he was talking out of his ass and only acknowledging what everyone already knows. It's like "admitting" the city council is a rubber stamp.

I'd rather see accidental police chief Eddie "One-Time Exception" Johnson on the stand denying he'd ever seen anything bad in his 27 years on the force, much less a code of silence, if only to put the embarrassment of his existence into higher relief. Better, let's get the formerly heroic and now disgraced Garry McCarthy up there to tell all now that he's finally been fully and bitterly inculcated into the Rahm Emanuel Experience, a new Navy Pier attraction in which an animatronic short guy with nine-and-a-half fingers yells at you for a minute and 30 seconds while you hold your tongue and smile, lest you be pitched into the lake and barred from ever returning to the city.

*

"The trial, set to begin May 30, involves a civil rights lawsuit brought by Chicago police Officers Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria over allegations they were blackballed by the department for cooperating with the FBI in an investigation into a corrupt tactical team led by Sgt. Ronald Watts."

See, cooperating in an investigation into wrongdoing in the department makes you a snitch, as opposed to cooperating with an investigation by the department into people living in your neighborhood. That makes you a good citizen.

"The trial will center on whether the department has a de facto policy that uses the code of silence to allow bad officers to act with impunity. During his December speech to the City Council, Emanuel condemned 'the tendency to ignore, deny or in some cases cover up the bad actions of a colleague or colleagues.'"

Like Rahm's aides do for their boss.

*

"Civil rights lawyer Flint Taylor has spent decades trying to prove the code of silence exists in numerous lawsuits against the CPD, over denials from high-ranking cops and city officials," the Sun-Times reports.

"Even though the city's attempt to make a formal admission the code exists wasn't accepted by the judge, Emanuel's public statements will remain a 'major weapon' for lawsuits against the city, said Taylor, who predicted Spalding and Echeverria are about to get a very generous settlement offer.

"'I know I had Mayor Daley on the verge of having to testify or give depositions two or three times, and then we'd get a settlement offer we couldn't turn down,' Taylor said Friday, referring to lawsuits he filed against the city when Richard M. Daley was in office. 'I'm sure they really don't want Rahm to hit the stand.'"

I'm sure those settlements were good for Taylor and his clients, but they certainly weren't good for us citizens, who deserved to hear Daley testify under oath about such things as, oh, what he knew about Jon Burge when he was the Cook County State's Attorney, even if all he said was that he didn't remember, which is probably what he would have said. A skilled lawyer could have evinced something useful out of such an episode.

"Outside the courtroom Friday, [plantiffs' lawyer Jeffrey Lynn] Taren declined to talk about how much his clients were seeking or what numbers had been suggested in settlement talks to date. Asked about the prospect of putting Emanuel on the stand, Taren smiled.

"'We're looking forward to it,' he said."

So are we. And we will be for a long, long time.

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Beachwood Photo Booth
Stop. Killing. People.

Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest
"The carried interest tax loophole is the most indefensible example of money's corruptive influence in politics."

Are Nerds Ruining Horse Racing?
"State-of-the-art software used by quants takes into account more than 100 variables which describe even the tiniest details about the horses, jockeys, tracks and so on when predicting a race's outcome."

The Week In Chicago Rock
Is in pre-production.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour
Is in post-production.

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BeachBook

Trib Publishing Outsources IT Jobs To India.

*

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TweetWood
A sample.

*

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: No rooting interest.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:10 PM | Permalink

Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest

Hello Friends of the Patriotic Millionaires,

I hope that you are all doing well. I am writing to update you on our continued efforts against the carried interest tax loophole.

The carried interest tax loophole is the most indefensible example of money's corruptive influence in politics. Through special interest and weak arguments, proponents keep a loophole open that allows Wall Street investment fund to pay much lower income tax rates than other Americans.

Last month, I found myself at odds with billionaire David Rubenstein. Rubenstein, who directly benefits from the carried interest loophole, was the subject of an extensive piece in the New Yorker (co-published by ProPublica) in which I was even quoted where he defended his low tax rate as a necessary component of his "patriotic philanthropy."

I wrote a response calling out Rubenstein, which you can read here. He uses his wealth to convince lawmakers to maintain a preferential and fundamentally unfair tax status for himself and other millionaires and billionaires. There's nothing patriotic or philanthropic about subverting the fabric of our democracy.

Nine days ago, at the Skybridge Alternatives Conference, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers put Rubenstein on the spot during one of the panels. Even former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin chimed in. Summers said that "rarely has a policy persisted for so long in the face of such weak arguments in its favor."

Rubenstein dodged the attacks but the voices are mounting against him. He can't dodge them forever. As support builds from both sides of the aisle, every level of government, and in all corners of the nation, people like Rubenstein are having a harder time peddling their egregious views.

Now more than ever, the Patriotic Millionaires appreciate your support. Together, we are taking steps towards a more equitable and just economic system.

Kindly,

Morris Pearl
Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires

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Previously in Patriotic Millionaires:
* Tax Day: Patriotic Millionaires Available For Comment.

-

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

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

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

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

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

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

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

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

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

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

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:48 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. A Giant Dog at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.


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2. Lord Mantis at 1st Ward on Monday night.

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3. Hivelords at 1st Ward on Monday night.

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4. Tombs at 1st Ward on Monday night.

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5. Lykanthea at the Whistler on Wednesday night.

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6. Fastness at the Whistler on Wednesday night.

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7. The Looking at Reggies on Tuesday night.

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8. Bernhoft at Schubas on Sunday night.

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9. Enter Shikari at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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10. Sixx:A.M. at the Concord on Tuesday night.

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11. Miss May I at the Concord on Thursday night.

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12. For Today at the Concord on Thursday night.

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13. Memphis May Fire at the Concord on Thursday night.

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14. Casey Abrams at SPACE in Evanston on Tuesday night.

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15. The Used at House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Organsm at Situations on May 9th.

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HENRYxCHINASKI at the Mutiny on May 13th.

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The Misfits at the Arcada in St. Charles on May 14th.

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Patti Smith at the Old Town School on May 14th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 AM | Permalink

Are Nerds Ruining Horse Racing?

From Wall Street to politics, quantitative analysts (or quants) are revolutionizing much of the world. Nowadays, that even includes horse racing.

By using computers to identify hidden patterns in past racing data and arcane mathematics to optimize every aspect of their betting strategies, horse racing quants can confidently wager staggering amounts. At first, that may seem good: more money in the pot means the house and the winners take more home. Still, their trades have been blamed for (among other things) driving away other bettors and shrinking prizes for everyone over time.

quants1.jpgPhotos by Reuters

As this year's Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing unfolds - along with all its accompanying betting - it's timely to wonder how these new gamblers armed with big data, powerful computers and advanced mathematics really affect the house and other bettors.

In research we recently submitted for publication, we used a subject in mathematics called game theory to analyze their influence.

How are quants with their big-time technology and seemingly unlimited funds really affecting everyone else involved in wagering on horse racing?

We showed that the situation is not as clear as many believe: whether the house or other players benefit from the quants' activities depends upon precise relationships among a number of ever-changing factors.

What Is Parimutuel Betting?

About 75 billion euros in parimutuel bets are placed on horse races annually around the globe.

In parimutuel betting - the system commonly used at American tracks - all wagers go into a central pool. After the race, certain deductions are made. For instance, the house collects a percentage fee, known as the take. The rest is distributed (proportionally) to the players with winning bets.

quants2.jpg

Let's say that Ann and Bill were the only people who bet that Nyquist (this year's winning horse at the Kentucky Derby) would win, and they each bet $50. We'll ignore all fees except for the take, which we'll pretend was 10 percent. If everyone's bets totaled $1,000, the house would collect $100 (10 percent of $1,000). The remainder would be $900, which Ann and Bill would split evenly ($450 each). In reality, it's slightly more complicated, but this is the basic idea.

Parimutuel bets are not limited to the track and can be made in finance, prediction markets, lotteries and other sports settings as well.

Computer-Assisted Bettors Are Different

Parimutuel wagering on the Kentucky Derby began in 1908. Other forms of betting are currently available, but this system is the norm at American tracks. Until recently it was the purview of relatively small-time bettors.

But that changed with two pioneering quants, William Benter and Alan Woods, who began betting on Hong Kong horse races in 1984. Their expertise in quantitative strategies for beating the dealer at the blackjack tables of Las Vegas helped them clean up in this new context. After the success of Benter and Woods, other quants were quick to jump into the biz. Today, computer-assisted bettors are supported by several dozen others with individual roles including accounting, programming, placing wagers and more. Funds come from the teams themselves.

The new bettors' budgets are often enormous. And their reputation suggests they have much better strategies than regular players. For instance, state-of-the-art software used by quants takes into account more than 100 variables which describe even the tiniest details about the horses, jockeys, tracks and so on when predicting a race's outcome.

They may have access to data feeds with up-to-date information about the betting pool. Knowledge of the pot is crucial when identifying profitable bets. With the help of special interfaces, computer-assisted bettors can frequently place wagers faster than ordinary players. They might also be able to enjoy reduced fees in some places.

Possible Positives

Some say that computer-assisted bettors have a positive impact on both the house and all the other bettors in this parimutuel system. A few off-track organizations actually offer them rebates in the hope of attracting their bets.

When the pool grows, say because of the activities of a computer-assisted bettor, the house immediately benefits. After all, it receives a percentage of the pool. Players are happy too, as they often believe they can win bigger prizes. Their wagers matter less when calculating payouts, a great feature for most betting strategies.

To see mathematically how adding more money to the pool affects payouts, think about what would happen in our scenario above if an extra player named Carol had placed a new $1,000 bet on Mor Spirit (who finished 10th). Now the house would receive $200, while Ann and Bill would receive $900 apiece.

Alleged Negatives

Most track-watchers are skeptical of computer-assisted bettors' positive influence, though. Mild critics merely offer no rebates to computer-assisted bettors or publicly suggest that they have a negative effect. Stronger detractors have banned them altogether.

For instance, a computer-assisted bettor could be directly responsible for lowering other players' profits. Look what would happen to Ann and Bill, if Carol had wagered $1,000 on the winner Nyquist instead of Mor Spirit. The house would get $200 again, but Ann and Bill would win only about $82 each.

Some of the effects are psychological. The perception of unfair advantages sometimes causes other gamblers to get discouraged or even stop completely. Over time, this can drop wagering pool sizes and decrease winnings for everyone - including the house.

Models Suggest It's Actually A Mixed Bag

To determine how computer-assisted betting is changing the field, we began by developing a theoretical model in which computer-assisted bettors and ordinary players placed wagers to maximize their profits. Our computer-assisted bettors differed from the other players because of their higher wagering budgets, more advanced strategies, and potentially better predictions.

In parimutuel wagering, once you have chosen which outcome you would like to wager on, finding the right amount to wager is tricky because payoffs per unit bet decrease as you raise your wager on an event. You have to balance the competing goals of winning a greater share of the pool by betting more and keeping your profit per unit bet high by wagering less. One way that our computer-assisted bettors' strategies were more advanced than those of our small-time players is that they could perfectly manage this difficult trade-off.

(There are other differences between the kinds of players, but these were beyond the scope of our work.)

We then studied a few specific cases to see whether computer-assisted bettors, small wagerers or the house came out on top. As many suspect, there were scenarios where computer-assisted bettors really cleaned up. But in other cases they didn't.

For instance, in one of our examples, the race was too close to call: two horses had a strong chance to win. Despite making a very good prediction about the outcome, our computer-assisted bettor chose to wager on the wrong horse. Since the "wisdom of the crowd" of regular players was slightly better than the computer-assisted bettor's forecast, both the house and ordinary players benefited in this scenario. Mathematically, this is like the situation above in which Carol bet on Mor Spirit instead of Nyquist.

The house and ordinary wagerers were also better off in a situation where the computer-assisted bettor played a diversifying role in the pool. Basically, the ordinary players' bets by themselves were too similar and led to undesirably low payoffs. When we added in the deep-pocketed computer-assisted bettor (who placed different wagers than the regular Joes), it sweetened the pot for everyone.

In another case, we showed that the presence of a computer-assisted bettor helped regular players at the expense of the house. Roughly, the computer-assisted bettor did not wager much unless the house's take was fairly small. While no one wagers much when the take is high, the effect was especially pronounced here because of this player's sophisticated strategies. Changing the take affects the wagering amount trade-off previously discussed, a point which our small-time players didn't consider. Since the computer-assisted bettor had a lot of money, the house was forced to lower its percentage fee.

So according to our model, in some scenarios, regular players were hurt by the computer-assisted bettors, while in others they benefited. Similarly, the computer-assisted bettors' impact on the house could be positive or negative.

Headed To The Track?

A total of $130 million was wagered on this year's Kentucky Derby, the second-largest total ever. Still, horse race gambling is perceived to be in the midst of a major decline in the United States. There are many contributing factors, but the perception that regular players can't compete against computer-assisted bettors is frequently cited. How would the recent headlines about UNU, the artificial intelligence program used to win $11,000 on a $20 long-shot bet at this year's Kentucky Derby, make you feel?

quants3.jpg

By now, you've seen that the case against computer-assisted bettors isn't as straightforward as you might expect. Whether the house and ordinary bettors benefit or suffer due to their presence depends on a number of conditions. These are sensitive and may rapidly shift, which ultimately gives all of the sport's stakeholders the opportunity to co-exist and profit.

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Alexander Munk is a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at the University of Michigan. Erhan Bayraktar is a mathematics professor at the University of Michigan. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:19 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop Killing People

Just. Stop.

stopkillingpeopleunitedchurchrpetcbw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:04 AM | Permalink

May 19, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

"The city's population fell by 3,000 residents, or 0.11 percent, during the 12-month period that ended June 30, 2015, Crain's Greg Hinz reports."

Name those 3,000 people! I mean, let's find them and ask them why they left. Can we get grant funding for that?

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has often taken pride in the growth in the city since his 2011 election, seeing it as an informal referendum on his performance," Tom Corfman writes in the Crain's morning newsletter. "He's about to lose bragging rights to Houston."

Not so fast.

So Rahm still has a couple terms before he's driven everyone out.

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Here's Richard M. Daley being a much better politician than the Current Occupant:

"The shrinking of Chicago isn't over, according to Mayor Richard M. Daley. He predicts that the city's population, once as high as 3.6 million people, will fall to 2.5 million before leveling off," the Tribune reported in 1993.

We're right on track!

"Houston currently has about 2.2 million residents, to Chicago's 2.7 million," Chicagoist notes.

"But within the next eight to ten years, Houston's numbers are expected to continue growing, to about 2.54 million, while Chicago's dip below 2.5 million."

Back to Daley:

But that's not a bad thing, he says.

"I don't want to be a big city. I don't care if I'm No. 2, 3 or 4," Daley told Tribune reporters in a nearly hour-long interview in September to discuss the results of the newspaper's extensive study of the reasons why Chicagoans move out of the city.

"I'm all for the city getting smaller. Then you can plan better quality of life and better parks, better schools, better health care. Planning is important. And then you're reinventing cities."

Yes - as suburbs.

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Yes, know I'm quoting other people's summaries - in this case, Corfman's - of the news. Now everybody is doing it. When I started 10 years ago, not so much. (And I proposed just such a summary to Chicago magazine two years before that.) Just sayin'.

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Of course, I don't really do the same kind of roundups in this space that I used to do. This column has always taken on different shapes, and for a variety of reasons (energy, money, social media, boredom, frustration) it's morphed into something . . . less. For awhile I wrote a lot about digital strategy and so on, and then I tried to write as many one-liners as I could every day. Now I simply try to cull something inspiring, amusing and/or fresh (or simply quickly do-able) from the hours of reading I do every day, though the most serious topics (and journalistic violations) often get put off because they require too much energy to get right every morning for free. I don't know myself what I'm going to write every day! That's part of what keeps it interesting.

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What do y'all wanna see in this space? Back to more intensive daily roundups, or strictly media news and criticism, maybe go national in scope, or status quo? I know I'll regret asking, but let me know.

(Or should I bag it and work on other projects - a book or one of my ideas for a revenue-producing niche website or strictly Beachwood-style merch/novelties?)

Principal Hunting
"A retired Chicago Public Schools principal who was recently arrested on phone harassment charges had been formally warned by the district for "conduct unbecoming a principal" after letting two problematic coaches into his high school, one accused of sexually harassing a female student, the other who videotaped a locker room hazing incident, the Sun-Times has learned.

"The warning documents the newspaper obtained laying out Ken Hunter's 30-day suspension raise questions about why two top CPS officials supported his campaign to run against a vocal mayoral critic for the job heading the city's principals association."

Because he's not the award-winning Troy LaRaviere! Proving that merit only goes so far at CPS. (Go read the whole thing for the gruesome details.)

Cubs Callback
In 10 years, the Cubs' excuse for cutting payroll will be that they have become a small-market team.

Sloganeering
The Second to the Second City.

Forewarned
If the Lucas museum is here in 10 years, the Fourth will really be with us.

Houston's Problem

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SPONSORED POST: Presidential Campaign Pub Quiz
From the fine folks at the Financial Times.

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IOC: Sochi Doping Allegations Could Show 'Unprecedented Criminality'
"Russia is at the heart of the biggest doping scandal in sport, with its track-and-field athletes suspended as a result of a probe into accusations of widespread doping and their participation at this year's Rio Olympics in doubt."

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At The Art Institute | Invisible Man: Gordon Parks And Ralph Ellison In Harlem
Included: never-before-seen photographs by Parks and unpublished manuscripts by Ellison.

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BeachBook
Facebook's newish embed code is killing me.

Woman In £1,000,000 Hat Tells Britain To 'Live Within Its Means.'

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Rolls-Royce Faces Nigerian Corruption Probe.

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Theranos Voids Two Years Of Edison Blood Test Results.

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Mercenaries Are The Silent Majority Of Obama's Military

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Special Report: In North Dakota's Oil Patch, A Humbling Comedown.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Sliding scale.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 PM | Permalink

IOC: Sochi Doping Allegations Could Show 'Unprecedented Criminality'

BERLIN - Allegations of Russian doping at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics would represent a shocking new dimension and an "unprecedented level of criminality" if proven to be true, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.

Russia is at the heart of the biggest doping scandal in sport, with its track-and-field athletes suspended as a result of a probe into accusations of widespread doping and their participation at this year's Rio Olympics in doubt.

Citing the former head of Russia's anti-doping agency, the New York Times reported last week that Russian anti-doping experts and members of the intelligence services secretly broke into tamper-proof bottles to replace urine samples tainted by performance-enhancing drugs with clean urine collected earlier.

"If these allegations are true we will hold everybody responsible who is implicated and there are different kinds of actions that are possible," Bach said in a conference call, citing possible bans or fines for athletes up to entire federations being excluded from the Games.

The Kremlin dismissed the allegations that Russia ran a sophisticated doping program at the 2014 Games at the Russian resort as treacherous slander, calling former agency head Grigory Rodchenkov "a turncoat."

The New York Times report was broadly consistent with accusations of the independent World Anti-Doping Agency commission last November of widespread state-sponsored doping in Russia, which led to a ban on the country competing in international athletics competitions.

WADA is now investigating the new allegations over Sochi, while the U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into the accusations of state-sponsored doping.

"Should the investigation prove the allegations true it would represent a shocking new dimension in doping with an, until now, unprecedented level of criminality," Bach said.

"I would like to call on those who may have information to come forward to WADA and to come forward today so as to enable WADA then to come to a result which shows the full picture. We can then make a real judgment to which degree these allegations are true."

SAMPLES TESTED

Adding to the questions over doping, the IOC said on Wednesday up to 31 athletes could be banned from Rio 2016 following re-tests using newer methods of doping samples from the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Bach said if any medalist was among those 31 there would not be any automatic reallocation of medals without those athletes also being retested. The names of the 31 athletes are expected to be announced in early June.

The IOC also ordered some 250 retests from London 2012 this week, the results of which are expected within seven days.

The world athletics organization, the IAAF, meets on June 17 to discuss the participation of Russian track-and-field athletes in Rio.

Bach said Russian athletes would also possibly need to prove they were clean to compete in Rio.

"The results of the WADA investigation will also greatly influence the nature of the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games Rio 2016," Bach said.

"Should there be evidence of an organized system contaminating other sports, the international federations and the IOC would have to make the difficult decision between collective responsibility and individual justice.

"This could mean that concerned athletes would have to demonstrate that their international and independently proven test record is compliant with the rules of their International Federation and the World Anti-Doping Code," Bach said.

Russia's Sports Ministry said on Wednesday it fully supported actions by the IOC to bar athletes who dope from competitions, but said clean athletes should not be excluded from the Rio Games.

However, the Kremlin said it did not accept the application of U.S. justice outside Washington's jurisdiction.

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Previously:
* Secret To Success: A Derby Win And Racing's Doping Addiction.

* Why It's So Hard To Catch Track-And-Field Cheaters.

* Everyone's Juicing.

* How Russia Hid Its Doping In Plain Sight.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink

SPONSORED POST: An English Pub Quiz For The Presidential Campaign That's Driving Us To Drink

In any other presidential election year, you really couldn't come up with a quiz quite like this, because this has been - sadly - the wackiest campaign for leader of the free world in recent memory. Maybe in history.

After all, one reason why Donald Trump may become the next president - maybe the chief reason - is that it took so long for so many to actually take him seriously and wrap their heads around the fact that he was, in fact, winning.

But Trump has had plenty of assistance from a Republican primary field that, in his own words, started with as many horses as a Kentucky Derby. Who can forget Jim Gilmore? Well, nearly everyone! Gilmore was once the governor of Virginia - and once in the 2016 field of GOP candidates! George Pataki? He was in!

A former commissioner of the IRS, Mark Everson, even ran, to little notice.

(Wikipedia lists 22 others who were speculated upon but declined to run.)

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders' surprising success and unique personality got Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David off the couch and onto Saturday Night Live with a spot-on impersonation, providing perhaps the best comedy of the season.

The fine folks at the Financial Times were thusly inspired to create this pub quiz for you and your friends. You've probably already forgotten much more than you currently know about this dreadful moment in history. Good luck!


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:40 AM | Permalink

At The Art Institute | Invisible Man: Gordon Parks And Ralph Ellison In Harlem

"Curator Michal Raz-Russo provides an overview of the exhibition, which reunites for the first time the surviving photographs and texts intended for the two collaborations between Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison.

"Included in the exhibition are never-before-seen photographs by Parks from the collections of the Art Institute and the Gordon Parks Foundation and unpublished manuscripts by Ellison."


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From the Art Institute:

Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison are both recognized as major figures in American art and literature: Parks, a renowned photographer and filmmaker, was best known for his poignant and humanizing photo-essays for Life magazine. Ellison authored one of the most acclaimed and debated novels of the 20th century, Invisible Man (1952). What is less known about these two esteemed artists is that their friendship, coupled with a shared vision of racial injustices and a belief in the communicative power of photography, inspired collaboration on two projects, one in 1948 and another in 1952.

Capitalizing on the growing popularity of the picture press, Parks and Ellison first joined forces in 1948, on an essay titled "Harlem Is Nowhere," for '48: The Magazine of the Year, which focused on Harlem's Lafargue Mental Hygiene Clinic as a means of highlighting the social and economic effects of racism and segregation. In 1952 they again worked together, producing "A Man Becomes Invisible" for Life magazine, which illustrated scenes from Ellison's Invisible Man. Both projects aimed to make the black experience visible in postwar America, with Harlem as its nerve center. However, neither essay was published as originally conceived - the first was lost, while only a fragment of the second appeared in print.

This exhibition reunites for the first time the surviving photographs and texts intended for the two projects, including never-before-seen photographs by Parks from the collections of the Art Institute and the Gordon Parks Foundation and unpublished manuscripts by Ellison. Revealed in these frank depictions of Harlem is Ellison and Parks's symbiotic insistence on making race a larger, universal issue, finding an alternative, productive means of representing African American life, and importantly, staking a claim for the black individual within - rather than separate from - the breadth of American culture.

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From The Literate Lens: Gordon Parks: Picturing The Invisible:

Though remembered primarily as a photographer, he was a prolific writer, composer and movie director. He was also a pioneer. In 1948, he broke through racial barriers to become the first African-American to work at Life magazine.

In 1969, he was the first black man to direct a Hollywood movie - an adaptation of his own novel The Learning Tree. As if that wasn't enough, he composed the score for the movie, and went on to write several more books and direct Shaft, the first movie to feature an African-American detective.

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See also: Museums And Galleries Turn To The Work Of Gordon Parks | In the 10 years since the artist's death, interest in his work has steadily grown.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:02 AM | Permalink

May 18, 2016

The [Wednesday] Papers

"A group of developers on the short list to buy Tribune Tower want to convert the Gothic Michigan Avenue landmark into condominiums, apartments and even a hotel," Crain's reports.

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My vote: The Starbucks across the street.

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Take it from someone who once had a window desk in the Tower: they're way too small as is to be attractive to residents.

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oaktrib.jpg

Oops, that's in Oakland.

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Meet The Morton Grove Best Western
Two diamonds, three stars.

CIA Watchdog Deletes Torture Report
Oops!

Tokyo Olympics Beset By Chicago-Style Corruption
Allegations, investigations.

New Rhetoric And Composition Books Are Here!
Women, girls, bicycles.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Sets record for all presidents.

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Headline gold.

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Northwestern journalism prof behaving badly.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hits, runs and errors.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:34 AM | Permalink

(Relatively) New Rhetoric And Composition Books Are Here!

1. Claiming the Bicycle: Women, Rhetoric, and Technology in Nineteenth-Century America. By Sarah Hallenbeck.

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"Sarah Hallenbeck's Claiming the Bicycle: Women, Rhetoric, and Technology in Nineteenth-Century America is a fresh and masterful piece of scholarship that will make significant interventions to the fields of feminist rhetorical studies and histories of technical communication in particular, as well as rhetorical historiography writ large."

- Jessica Enoch, associate professor and director of academic writing at the University of Maryland

Read More.

2. Praising Girls: The Rhetoric of Young Women, 1895-1930. By Henrietta Rix Wood.

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"Praising Girls: The Rhetoric of Young Women, 1895-1930 fills a significant gap in our understanding of the history of American women's rhetoric. This meticulously researched study of the published writing of diverse young women documents their rhetorical performances in the school newspapers, literary magazines, and yearbooks that gave them rhetorical space. Through a feminist recovery of the genre of epideictic discourse and its uses by girls in making arguments relevant to their everyday lives, Wood offers a historical and critical tour de force."

- Nan Johnson, Ohio State University

Read More.

3. Rewriting Composition: Terms of Exchange. By Bruce Horner.

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"Rewriting Composition is a major reckoning with the field, a deep interrogation of composition's own terms of understanding.

"The rigor of its cultural materialist approach has a startling effect, treating the familiar in new and unsettling ways.

"This hasn't happened in a long time."

- John Trimbur, Emerson College

Read More.

4. Quintilian on the Teaching of Speaking and Writing: Translations from Books One, Two, and Ten of the Institutio Oratoria. Second Edition. By James J. Murphy and Cleve Wiese.

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"This meticulously edited volume introduces students to oral and written rhetoric by providing the insights of one of the discipline's most profound educators in a clear and incredibly relevant manner.

"Highly recommended!"

- Richard Leo Enos, Piper Professor (State of Texas), and Lillian Radford, chair of rhetoric and composition, Texas Christian University

Read More.

5. The Selected Writings of John Witherspoon. New in paperback. Edited by Thomas P. Miller.

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"Miller provides a superb introductory essay treating Witherspoon's works as well as the intellectual, social, and political contexts in which Witherspoon was educated, wrote his essays and sermons, taught, and advocated political freedom and American independence.

"Miller richly details numerous subjects important to understanding Witherspoon's writings."

- Lloyd F. Bitzer in Southern Communication Journal

Read More.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

Tokyo 2020 Olympics Beset By Corruption Investigations

TOKYO - A Japanese official who led the successful bid for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics said on Wednesday the Japanese Olympic Committee plans to investigate the bidding after questions were raised about payments by the bid committee.

Media reports say the bid team made payments totalling more than $2 million to a Singapore bank account linked to Papa Massata Diack, son of disgraced former international athletics chief Lamine Diack.

Japanese officials have said the payments were legitimate consultant's fees.

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Tsunekazu Takeda, president of the JOC and leader of the successful effort to win the Summer Games, said people involved with the bid would be questioned.

"We are setting up an investigative team that includes outside lawyers," Takeda told a parliamentary committee.

"We will once again talk with people connected to the bid at the time to ascertain whether or not there was anything illegal in the suspicions that have been raised."

Opposition lawmakers have seized on the issue, saying that a Singaporean company called Black Tidings, into whose account the Guardian newspaper said the payment was made, was a paper company.

The firm's business address is in a government housing complex in a suburban part of Singapore. A Reuters cameraman saw shoes and umbrellas in front of the address this week, but the company has no registered phone number.

Takeda said on Monday he believed it was not a paper company.

The Singapore account into which the money was allegedly deposited was controlled by Ian Tan Tong Han, a friend of the younger Diack, the Guardian reported.

The elder Diack, a former International Olympic Committee member, is under a French police investigation for corruption at the IAAF, athletics' governing body. The IOC has said it has been in touch with French magistrates over the case.

Asked about the allegations of payments by the Tokyo bid committee, IOC president Thomas Bach said on Wednesday: "This is speculation. Of course we are not amused if there are allegations against an Olympic candidature and of Tokyo. But this is about zero tolerance.

"We have in the IOC all instruments in place to fight against corruption. That does not mean we are immune to corruption but we do everything we can to fight this evil," he told a conference call.

"We have the statement from the Japanese side of which we took note. We will maintain our position as civil party to the French prosecution and we will continue to actively cooperate with this French inquiry," said Bach, who is German.

Tokyo, which in 2013 beat Istanbul and Madrid to host the games, has been embarrassed by a number of woes since then, including scrapping the design for the centerpiece Olympic stadium, delaying construction.

Last month, it finally selected a new games logo after the previous one was withdrawn due to questions about plagiarism.

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Awesome links provided by the Beachwood linking team.

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Japanese reporter: There's a much bigger scandal than that here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 AM | Permalink

'Stunning:' CIA Admits 'Mistakenly' Deleting Copy of Senate Torture Report

The CIA's inspector general office admitted to reporters that the department inadvertently deleted its copy of the U.S. Senate's report detailing the nation's post-9/11 detention and torture of detainees, Yahoo News reported Monday.

The department also deleted a hard disk back-up of the report.

"Clearly the CIA would rather we all forgot about torture," Cori Creider, a director at human rights watchdog Reprieve, responded to the news in a statement.

The admission comes only days after a federal court ruled that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to the report, blocking its release to the public. Observers noted that the deletion coincides with widespread government efforts to suppress the document.

Yahoo News described the bizarre circumstances that led to the document's erasure from the inspector general's servers:

The deletion of the document has been portrayed by agency officials to Senate investigators as an "inadvertent" foul-up by the inspector general. In what one intelligence community source described as a series of errors straight "out of the Keystone Cops," CIA inspector general officials deleted an uploaded computer file with the report and then accidentally destroyed a disk that also contained the document, filled with thousands of secret files about the CIA's use of "enhanced" interrogation methods.

"It's breathtaking that this could have happened, especially in the inspector general's office- they're the ones that are supposed to be providing accountability within the agency itself," said Douglas Cox, a City University of New York School of Law professor who specializes in tracking the preservation of federal records. "It makes you wonder what was going on over there?"

"It's stunning that even the CIA's own watchdog couldn't manage to hang onto its copy of the Senate's landmark report about CIA black sites. One worries that no one is minding the store," Crider commented.

"The incident was privately disclosed to the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Justice Department last summer . . . sources said," Yahoo News reported, "But the destruction of a copy of the sensitive report has never been made public."

The federal judge overseeing the aforementioned case regarding whether FOIA applies to the torture report was not informed that the deletion had occurred.

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting that the court be informed of the event. "Your prompt response will allay my concerns that this was more than an 'accident,'" Feinstein added.

A CIA spokesperson refused to speak directly to the inspector general's destruction of the report, but told Yahoo News that "another unopened computer disk with the full report has been, and still is, locked in a vault at agency headquarters."

"If we are not careful, this report will go the way of the waterboarding tapes," Crider warned. "It's deeply depressing that the CIA still thinks they can shred and spin their way out of this scandal, but that is the consequence of impunity. Not a single person who designed or implemented the Bush-era torture program has been made to explain or apologize."

"With the threat of a new Torturer-in-Chief on the horizon," Crider said, "it is vital that the CIA comes clean and admits that kidnapping and torturing dozens of individuals was an appalling mistake and must not happen again."

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

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Previously:
* Doc Of Rages.

* 'Incommunicado' Forever: Gitmo Detainee's Case Stalled For 2,477 Days And Counting.

* They Said No To Torture.

* The Trews: What Should We Think About CIA Torture.

* The Tortured History Of The Senate Torture Report.

* Torture USA.

* The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama.

* Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA.

* The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You May Never See.

* Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out.

* The Prison That Just Can't Be Closed.

* Barack Obama's Secret Island Prison.

* Guantanamo Prisoner Lifts Lid.

* Read The Fucking Torture Report, People.

* American Torture Story - Chicago Chapter.

* Obama Administration Blocks Release Of New Torture Details.

* REVEALED: The Boom And Bust Of The CIA's Secret Torture Sites.

* Torture By Iraqi Militias: The Report Washington Did Not Want You To See.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

Meet The Morton Grove Best Western

"Sinead O'Connor has been found by police after being reported as missing on Sunday," the Daily Mail notes.

"Authorities had said they believed O'Connor could be suicidal after it was reported she had not been seen since 6 a.m. on Sunday, when she decided to go for a bike ride in Wilmette, Illinois wearing leather pants, a sweatshirt and a black parka.

"The singer was found six miles from Wilmette in a run-down $84-a-night Best Western Hotel in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove on Monday morning."

A run-down Best Western in Morton Grove?

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"Guests in town for an event at Northwestern University or to visit the campus can get there easily from our comfortable Morton Grove hotel," Best Western says.

"We're located close to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and a short distance from the biggest area companies like Kraft Foods/Mondelez International. Public transportation including the Metra Rail or CTA 'El' Train-Yellow Line is also close by. Our great location with close proximity to Chicago and suburbs like Glenview, Niles, and Skokie, IL makes us a favorite for travelers.

"Guests enjoy the value at our hotel like free parking. Everything is all-inclusive, and our Morton Grove hotel is much more affordable than the city. We're located in between two major expressways, I-94 and I-294, and are close to the Metra Rail Golf Stop. Just seven miles from O'Hare Airport, we offer the convenience of an airport hotel while still being just minutes from top attractions.

"Many guests choose our Morton Grove hotel when they're in town for Lollapalooza, marathons, or the Taste of Chicago. Wrigley Field is a short drive away, where the Cubs games are held. The university often has special events and sporting tournaments happening. There are several other nearby colleges, universities, high schools and businesses as well, with easy public transportation to downtown Chicago and major attractions."

AAA gives it two diamonds.

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Yelp gives it three stars, based on 17 reviews.

From one of the worst:

"Room is smelly, tv doesn't get all the channels they say it should get, and carpet is very dirty."

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Trip Advisor gives it three-and-a-half stars, based on 200 reviews. Fifteen reviewers rated it "Terrible."

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Photos here.

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See also: Sinead O'Connor No Joke.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

May 17, 2016

Who The Hell Are The Chicago Clovers?

The hometown Clovers dropped a three-point decision (135-132) to the visitors from the north at Hyde Park High School on Saturday.

Wait, who?


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From the Cedar Valley CourtKings website:

"After three straight weeks of training camp the Cedar Valley CourtKings, Waterloo/Cedar Falls new minor league basketball team, is set to open up their inaugural season in the newly formed Midwest Basketball League! The CourtKings travel to Chicago this weekend to take on the Chicago Clovers.

"Here is what we know about the Clovers. They are owned by Othell Mitchell, Jr who has his own clothing line in Chicago. He also runs all the Pro-Am basketball in the city of Chicago. Othell had wanted to get into the MBL this season and when Sioux City pulled out a month ago that opened the door for the Clovers to be in the league in year one instead of waiting until next year. Their roster is just getting finalized but their owner has told the MBL league president that he will have some former pro players on his team."

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Othell Mitchell, Jr.

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"The MBL will use the college rule book with NBA rule adaptions such as four 12 minute quarters, 6 fouls per player, jump ball on all held ball calls and a 24 second shot clock are the main ones."

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Welcome to the MBL.

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There's also a Chicago Fury in the league.

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Christ.

"Thoughts and prayers from the Midwest Basketball League are sent to the Chicago Fury, who recently lost their teammate Marvin Lee.

"The 30-year old Lee was shot and killed late Wednesday night after an altercation at a bar in Chicago.

"After a stand-out career at Hyde Park Academy Lee went on to play college basketball at Pratt Community College for two seasons. He transferred to NCAA Division I Binghamton University for the 2006-07 season before finishing his collegiate career at Division II Emporia State."

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Here's the Clovers' roster.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

I briefly considered making fun of Mel Reynolds today, but his life is actually not very funny. It's tragic, and sad.

And so is the life of Sinead O'Connor. (And many of our own lives.)

I thought twice about tweeting this yesterday but decided it was okay because it was about airport security lines, not her:

I now regret doing so, because I exploited her tragic situation to make a joke about inconvenienced travelers. That's really not worth the miniscule payoff.

Please see Sinead O'Connor No Joke.

Rickettsville
"Wrigleyville community leaders on Tuesday accused the Cubs of running roughshod over the neighborhood - and ignoring legitimate public safety concerns - in a heavy-handed attempt to open what they called the 'Midwest's largest beer garden," the Sun-Times reports.

"In a letter to Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, presidents of East Lakeview, Southport, Hawthorne and Triangle Neighbors Associations accused the Cubs of pulling the plug on months of negotiations in favor of an end-run around area residents and their local Ald. Tom Tunney (44th)."

The Cubs under Ricketts have been ham-handed with the neighborhood, the alderman and City Hall since day one. It's like Crane Kenney is running the operation or something.

(Btw, see/hear the Kenney item at 27:07 here.)

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"At issue is the Cubs' surprise decision to apply for a patio permit that could pave the way for extended liquor sales - until 11 p.m. on weekdays at midnight on weekends - at an open-air plaza adjacent to a renovated Wrigley Field.

"The Cubs organization is trying to bypass the community engagement process by going directly to the city's liquor commissioner to obtain this liquor license - a year-round beer garden of unprecedented size and scope, which would serve alcohol to 4,000-to-6,000 people, 10-to-12 hours-a-day 365 days of the year," the letter states.

"If the team's request is granted, the Cubs would have a patio liquor license '30 times larger' than Chicago's largest, which has a maximum capacity of 200 patrons."

I can't vouch for those figures, but I bet they're in the ballpark.

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"They want the Cubs to 'reconsider this misguided proposal' they claim will not accomplish the 'town square in Europe' that Ricketts has described as his model."

Name that square, Tom.

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"Last week, Tunney stood his ground against the Cubs' request for a patio license.

"Remember they wanted to close Clark and Addison? This is another way of trying to close Clark and Addison. If you look at the rules for the patio license they requested, they could stay open from 11 a.m. to midnight and allow people to drink all day and all night during the game and after the game. That's a public safety issue," Tunney said.

"You have 41,000 people in the stadium. We don't want an additional 4,000 people in the plaza at least for the first couple of years while we figure out how we can absorb the 100,000 square feet of food and beverage built into the planned development. That's the equivalent of 10 very large bars. The concern for the community is public safety for the fans and, for the residents, trying to keep our streets open."

Rickettsville. It's coming.

Sasha's Night Out
"Acclaimed music and culture writer Sasha Frere-Jones has abruptly exited the L.A. Times after less than a year amid allegations of expense-account shenanigans involving a strip club and accepting expensive freebies from sources," the Wrap reports.

Huh, that got Susanna Homan promoted! Minus the strip club part, of course. As far as we know.

1972 Chicago Newscast Ripped From Today's Headlines
As an old saying goes, the news never changes, just the players.

While that may not be exactly true, it is largely true.

Consider this WMAQ-TV newscast from 1972: CPS begs the state for money to solve its budget problems while threatening larger class sizes and teacher layoffs; tense race relations at Gage High School (more so than today, I would say; mostly because white parents have bailed out of the system); and a school shooting.

Take a look.

NSA Today
Gannett's next target!

Actually, it's the internal newsletter (actually named SIDToday, for Signals Intelligence Directorate) of the NSA, and the Intercept has culled each edition from the Snowden archive for your enjoyment, astonishment and outrage.

Who The Hell Are The Chicago Clovers?
I don't know, but they just got beat by the Wisconsin Storm.

Meet The Black Couch
Art studio and gallery in the old Hammond organ space. (Click through if for nothing else but the Hammond history.)

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BeachBook

Indiana Station Drops This American Life For Selling Out.

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Champaign-Urbana Dude Puts Air Guitar On Craigslist.

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Kickstarter: I Want Kenny Loggins To Play In My Living Room.

See also: Kenny Loggins at Chicago Book Expo.

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Rent Dispute Forcing Fischman Liquors To Close.

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McDonald's Is Most Visited Restaurant Chain In America.

Second only to Walmart in foot traffic.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Access to sources, not power.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Box-office poison.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

Sinead O'Connor No Joke

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Dear World:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 AM | Permalink

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

Deeming their release "in the public interest," The Intercept on Monday published a large, download-ready batch of NSA internal documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Though the release comes with a promise that even more files from the Snowden archive will be released in this manner over time, the journalists said Monday's document release - re-formatted pdf versions of the NSA's SIDToday, the agency's internal newsletter for its clandestine Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID) - is designed to give other journalists and the general public better access to the source material first entrusted to them by Snowden in 2013.

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"We at The Intercept have constantly sought out new ways to get as much of the archive provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden into the hands of the public as is consistent with the public interest," the outlet said in a press statement.

"Beginning today, we are publishing batches of documents provided by Snowden, beginning with the NSA's internal SIDtoday newsletters. We are starting with the oldest SIDtoday articles, including 166 documents from 2003, and working our way through the most recent in our archive, from 2012."

As the editors at The Intercept explain: "Written in accessible, non-technical language, SIDtoday offers a window into the NSA's culture and operations. Although much of its content is unclassified and often appears largely designed to burnish the agency's self-image, SIDtoday also includes more revelatory sections that are officially 'secret' and 'top secret.'"

Explaining why the outlet has decided to proceed in this fashion, co-founder Glenn Greenwald offered an extensive explanation alongside new reporting based on the SID journal documents by staff journalists. Of the documents and the reporting, Greenwald writes:

The SIDtoday documents run a wide gamut: from serious, detailed reports on top secret NSA surveillance programs to breezy, trivial meanderings of analysts' trips and vacations, with much in between. Many are self-serving and boastful, designed to justify budgets or impress supervisors. Others contain obvious errors or mindless parroting of public source material. But some SIDtoday articles have been the basis of significant revelations from the archive.

Accompanying the release of these documents are summaries of the content of each, along with a story about NSA's role in Guantanamo interrogations, a lengthy roundup of other intriguing information gleaned from these files, and a profile of SIDtoday.

We encourage other journalists, researchers, and interested parties to comb through these documents, along with future published batches, to find additional material of interest. Others may well find stories, or clues that lead to stories, that we did not. (To contact us about such finds, see the instructions here.) A primary objective of these batch releases is to make that kind of exploration possible.

Consistent with the requirements of our agreement with our source, our editors and reporters have carefully examined each document, redacted names of low-level functionaries and other information that could impose serious harm on innocent individuals, and given the NSA an opportunity to comment on the documents to be published (the NSA's comments resulted in no redactions other than two names of relatively low-level employees that we agreed, consistent with our long-standing policy, to redact). Further information about how we prepared the documents for publication is available in a separate article. We believe these releases will enhance public understanding of these extremely powerful and secretive surveillance agencies.

In addition to the source material, which is available here, The Intercept also published the following feature articles on Monday:

* NSA Closely Involved in Guantanamo Interrogations, Documents Show.

* The Most Intriguing Spy Stories From 166 Internal NSA Reports.

* What It's Like To Read The NSA's Newspaper For Spies.

* How We Prepared The NSA's Sensitive Internal Reports For Release.

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

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

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

* Ruling Unsealed: National Security Letters Upheld As Constitutional.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Obama Secretly Expanded NSA Spying To Internet.

* Court: NSA Phone Program Illegal.

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

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

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

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

* Stop Spying On Wikipedia Users.

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

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

* I Fight Surveillance.

* Illegal Spying Below.

* Smith vs. Obama.

* EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

* Stand Against Spying.

* The NSA Revelations All In One Chart.

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

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

* House Committee Puts NSA On Notice Over Encryption Standards.

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

* Lawsuit Demands DOJ Release More Secret Surveillance Court Rulings.

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

* What The Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn't Do.

* Technologists Turn On Obama.

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

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

* Eighth-Grader Schools The NSA.

* You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi.

* Today We Fight Back.

* The Day We Fight Back.

* FAQ: The NSA's Angry Birds.

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

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

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

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

* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

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

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

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

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

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

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

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

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

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

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

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

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

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

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

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

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

* Does The NSA Tap That?

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

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

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

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

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:54 AM | Permalink

Meet The Black Couch

"The Black Couch is a working studio and art gallery in Hermosa at the old Hammond Organ manufacturing plant. We are a collective of artists and musicians whose mission is to encourage positive community involvement through art and music.

"Every month, we host a variety of events including art showcases, multi-genre music shows, CPS field trips, group painting parties, fundraisers, and film screenings."


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TheBlackCouchStudio.com.

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From the Encyclopedia of Chicago:

"In 1928, Evanston resident Laurens Hammond founded the Hammond Clock Co. His enterprise had little success until 1934, when Hammond patented an electric organ and began to manufacture the instruments.

"In 1936 he sold more than 1,750 of the 275-pound organs, mainly to churches and households. During the 1950s, when the company employed over 1,000 people in the Chicago area, it changed its name from Hammond Musical Instrument Co. to Hammond Organ Co.

"By the early 1970s, with annual sales approaching $100 million, Hammond had four plants in the Chicago area and employed a total of 4,500 people nationwide.

"During the late 1970s, when organ sales declined, the company was purchased by the Marmon Group, a conglomerate owned by the Pritzker family of Chicago. By the 1990s, Hammond was owned by the Suzuki Group of Japan."

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From the Chicago History Museum:

"In 1977 The Marmon Group, Inc., owned by the Pritzker family of Chicago, acquired the Hammond Corporation, and the Hammond Organ Company became a division of The Marmon Group.

"In 1986 The Marmon Group sold the Hammond Organ Company to Hammond Organ Australia, PTY Ltd, then owned by Noel Crabbe of Australia, and manufacturing of Hammond organs was discontinued in Chicago.

"Tentative plans called for the manufacturing of Hammond organs in Japan."

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"Chicago Lines is a television series exploring the people, places and things in the city of Chicago."

On Facebook.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:26 AM | Permalink

Groundhog Day: 1972 Newscast Ripped From Today's Headlines

Gee this looks familiar - a CPS budget calling for furlough days and larger classes, tense race relations at a Chicago high school, and a school shooting. This is from the WMAQ-TV 10 p.m. newscast on Nov. 27, 1972:


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From the Museum of Classic Chicago Television, which dug up the clip:

"Floyd Kalber reports on the proposed 1973 Chicago School Budget and cuts and layoffs deemed necessary by Chicago Public Schools Superintendent James Redmond.

"Floyd then reports on the continuing Gage Park High School controversy and truce, involving race relations in general and boycotts of the school by white students. Featuring Irene Schrader, Gage Park High School PTA President (and head of the Gage Park Coalition), as well as comments by Joseph Lodato, of the Gage Park Civic Association, and the Reverend Willie Barrow of Operation Push.

"Finally, Floyd reports on a school shooting in Pontiac, Michigan, in which a 16-year-old high school student shot and seriously wounded a student during a quarrel, with the rest being hurt as innocent bystanders."

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From the Nov. 28, 1972, Tribune:

"School Supt. James F. Redmond yesterday recommended the cutting of up to 3,22 jobs and a 17.5-day layoff in order to balance a record $838.8 million tentative budget for 1973.

"Redmond proposed the tentative budget to the School Board yesterday. The budget is for $74.7 million more than the 1972 version, but the School Board will run short of cash unless $43.7 million in services and staff is cut, Redmond said.

"Among the recommended job cuts are the trimming of 1,100 to 1,200 teachers.

"'Nobody's going to like this tentative budget and nobody's going to like the final budget,' Redmond said when he announced it at a meeting of the board's Fiscal Policies Committee. 'The situation remains - we are still underfinanced.'

"Redmond said the School Board already has put in a bid for more state money from the legislature, which is meeting in special session this week.

"He said he is fairly confident that more state funds will be received in 1973 to help rescue the schools."

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On Gage Park, Nov. 26, 1972, Tribune:

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Soll2.png(ENLARGE)

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FYI: Soll died last month.

From Wikipedia:

"On December 7, 1975, [Tribune editor Clayton] Kirkpatrick announced in a column on the editorial page that Rick Soll, a 'young and talented columnist' for the paper whose work had 'won a following among many Tribune readers over the last two years' resigned from the paper after acknowledging that a column he wrote that appeared on November 23, 1975, contained verbatim passages that another columnist wrote in 1967 and later published in a collection. Kirkpatrick did not identify the columnist.

"The passages in question, Kirkpatrick wrote, had been in a notebook where Soll had copied words, phrases and bits of conversation that he had wished to remember. Although the paper initially suspended Soll for a month without pay, Kirkpatrick noted that further evidence then came out that another column contained information that Soll knew was false.

"At that point, Kirkpatrick wrote, Tribune editors decided to accept the resignation that Soll offered when the investigation began. Soll went on to marry Chicago newspaper (and future TV) reporter Pam Zekman."

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More Tribune, um, coverage:

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On the Pontiac, Michigan shooting: Shootings At Pontiac Central.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:11 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2016

SportsMonday: Ban Beanball

First of all, let's offer up (very) belated congratulations to the White Sox for not over-reacting a week ago after Minnesota Twins reliever Trevor May hit Jose Abreu with a fastball. I suppose by some standard it is inappropriate to just flat out say May did it on purpose, but anyone who saw that pitch knows May just flat out did it on purpose.

Then again, given the big brouhaha in baseball Sunday, we may be jumping the gun a bit in handing out kudos. The gutless Toronto Blue Jays waited until the second-to-last inning of their last game of this regular season against the Texas Rangers to intentionally hit slugger Jose Bautista. The most rational explanation for that move was that the Blue Jays were still pissed about a Bautista bat flip - from last year's playoffs!

So maybe the White Sox have a plan to exact retribution from the Twins considerably further down the line. Or maybe rationality has a at least a little to do with how the White Sox operate and they have no such plan.

In case the Blue Jays' assault on Bautista (the fastball was traveling at an estimated 98 miles per hour when it hit him square in the torso - that is an assault, people) wasn't pathetic enough, infielder Rougned Odor then compounded the situation when Bautista slid hard into second on an ensuing ground ball. The two players squared off and then Odor landed about as impressive a straight right to Bautista's jaw as you are going to see in that sort of context.

It seems clear that Odor, Rangers pitcher Matt Bush and Rangers manager Jeff Bannister all deserve significant suspensions. Perhaps new baseball commissioner Rob Manfred will take this as an opportunity to start to dial up standard punishments in these sorts of situations.

Because the best thing that could happen here would be for Manfred to make a statement that a new era has begun regarding pitchers throwing at hitters. He could crank up the penalties (which would then almost certainly be reduced on appeal, but still . . . ) and help teams start to understand that the previous wink-and-nod approach to these sorts of situations will no longer be in effect.

In other words, pitchers and their managers would face serious penalties when they took hard ball in hand and did their best to hit foes with fastballs. You would think it would be simple - do that sort of thing and pay a severe price - but no. Get to work, commish.

As for the White Sox, well, they were smartest not to retaliate by having one of their pitchers hit a Twins hitter because if they had done so, they would have conveyed at least a little legitimacy to their foes' initial weak move. (Editor's Note: Didn't the White Sox hit Byung-Ho Park first?)

Plus, Minnesota has been terrible enough this season that they already appear to be sleepwalking through many of their games. Not surprisingly, they are not terribly difficult to defeat when that is happening (as the Sox did three times to sweep the series) and there is no reason to do anything to wake them up.

After Abreu was hit, Robin Ventura did a great job of forcing the umpires to face at least a little bit of accountability for their dim-witted decision not to toss May out of the game when we all knew he had hit Abreu on purpose. Ventura engaged in one of the longest verbal harangues of umpires that Sox fans have seen from him during his tenure as manager and was himself ejected from the game.

In so doing, Ventura burned off some of the negative energy that would have remained for the White Sox had there not been at least some sort of action taken to protest May not facing consequences. And the White Sox moved on.

Baseball has always had a culture where pitchers are expected to "protect their teammates" by hitting an opposing player if one of their guys gets hit. But that culture is especially lame in the American League, where pitchers don't bat. Let's conclude by once more urging Manfred to do the right thing: Make the penalties for hitting hitters with pitches on purpose so severe that teams wouldn't just think twice before they do it, they would think a half dozen times.

The game doesn't need this garbage.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Marathon security lines over the weekend stranded dozens of people overnight at O'Hare International Airport because of missed flights, as a TSA staffing shortage continues to plague travelers nationwide, airline officials said," the Tribune (and others) reports.

Transportation Security Administration lines were more than two hours long Sunday, causing 450 people to miss their flights, according to American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott. Stranded passengers who couldn't get on a later flight slept on cots at the American terminal.

The lines are being blamed on insufficient TSA staffing due to strengthened security measures, a higher-than-anticipated increase in air traffic and incorrect guesses about how many people would sign up for expedited screening. The situation has been accelerating for months - and is expected to get worse heading into the busy summer travel season.

Midway is no picnic, either.

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"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will immediately increase the use of overtime and work to quickly bring in more screening officers to help alleviate long lines at airport security checkpoints, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Friday," CNN reports.

"But Johnson warned that longer wait times are inevitable during the busy summer travel season."

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Not one to let a good crisis go to waste, methinks there are business opportunities to exploit here.

-> How about food trucks - okay, carts - in that part of the concourse? Who standing in line wouldn't want elotes?

-> Stand-In Inc. We stand in line so you don't have to.

-> Uber for airplanes: Long-distance road trips that get you there before flying, because flying has become the slowest way to get anywhere.

-> A better version of the TSA's wait-time app, because obviously anyone could make a better version - and sell it for 99 cents in iTunes.

-> Airport Tinder. A new way to meet that cutie over by dere.

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"Airport security is a special kind of hell, and anyone who goes through it regularly knows it," ZDNet notes. Here's why.

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"The Transportation Security Administration is warning some travelers that they should show up three hours before their scheduled flights," WKOW-TV in Madison reports. (So "W-Cow?")

"This weekend people who were flying out of O'Hare and Midway say lines were out of control, hundreds of people deep. And that isn't just the story in Chicago, but in lots of airports all across the country."

Three hours? So the actual flight will be shortest (and most comfortable!) part of your trip.

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Syria's Stateless Children
Kids who don't count.

Chicago Book Expo Featuring Kenny Loggins
This is it.

White Sox Lose The Plot
Time to worry?

Polar Soler
George Sun sets.

Studebaker Is Back
The building, not the car.

Ban Beanball
Game doesn't need this garbage.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Replicant, Gary Numan, No Ritual, Snarky Puppy, Har Mar Superstar, Lincoln Durham, Babymetal, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Scissors, White Reaper, Mavis Staples, Youth Code, DevilDriver, Hard Working Americans, Allen Stone, Luther Dickinson, and the Punch Brothers.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Branding iron.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:29 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Replicant at Subterranean on Thursday night.


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2. Gary Numan at the Metro on Sunday night.

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3. No Ritual at Subterranean on Thursday night.

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4. Snarky Puppy at the Concord on Saturday night.

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5. Har Mar Superstar at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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6. Lincoln Durham at Schuba's on Friday night.

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7. Babymetal at House of Blues on Friday night.

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8. The Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Metro on Friday night.

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9. The Scissors at the Double Door on Friday night.

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10. White Reaper at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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11. Mavis Staples at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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12. Youth Code at Subterranean on Thursday night.

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13. DevilDriver at the Metro on Saturday night.

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14. Hard Working Americans at Park West on Saturday night.

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15. Allen Stone at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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16. Luther Dickinson at the Old Town School on Friday night.

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17. Punch Brothers at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:28 AM | Permalink

Syria's Stateless Children

BAALBEK, Lebanon - Seven-month-old Nour lives in a tarpaulin tent pitched on a muddy patch of earth in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. The tent, one of a dozen in a small refugee camp, contains a metal stove, a prayer mat and worn rugs on the floor. A leather jacket and a plastic mirror hang from nails hammered into its wooden beams.

Swaddled in a faded pink blanket against the cold, Nour is the first of her Syrian parents' three children to be born as a refugee. Her family fled their native Homs at the start of Syria's civil war. Crammed two to a seat in a bus, her parents and two older siblings traveled 70 miles into Lebanon, where Nour was born.

Now her mother and father, Asheqa and Trad, face a new challenge. They need to register Nour with a local government office in Lebanon by her first birthday in early September. A birth certificate is the crucial first step to securing Syrian citizenship. Without it, Nour could join a fast-growing generation of children who are stateless - lacking legal recognition as a citizen of any country.

Stateless1.JPGUNREGISTERED: Asheqa holds her unregistered seven-month-old daughter Nour inside their tent in a refugee camp in Lebanon's Bekaa valley. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

But as Nour's parents are learning, even something as simple as registering a baby's birth is fraught with hurdles for a refugee in Lebanon.

The country has more refugees per head of the population than any country in the world, but it is not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has not allowed the U.N. to set up formal camps for Syrians. Some politicians fret about the impact of mainly Sunni refugees from Syria on the country's sectarian balance. Power in Lebanon is carefully divided between Christians, Shi'ite Muslims, Sunnis and other groups.

Registering Syrian births could create a precedent for Syrians to settle in the country, they worry.

Surveys by the United Nations refugee agency and the Norwegian Refugee Council suggest the number of children whose births remain unregistered in Lebanon could be as high as 50,000. Aid agencies see similar difficulties registering children in Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, which host millions of Syrian refugees between them. That means the number of Syrian children facing statelessness is likely to be much higher.

Those thousands of potentially stateless children are one way the wars in Syria and Iraq are reshaping the Middle East and its people for good.

"If you look at the number of births that have happened . . . I think we can be talking about hundreds of thousands who are potentially not registered in the region as a whole," said Daryl Grisgraber, senior advocate for the Middle East at Refugees International, a humanitarian group that works for displaced and stateless people.

stateless4.jpgCAMP: Refugee children in the Bekaa valley. Many Syrian refugees in Lebanon live not in huge camps but in small settlements alongside villages. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

The U.N. says stateless children risk missing out on basic rights such as education and healthcare, can face difficulties getting a job and are exposed to abuse and even trafficking.

To have Nour fully recognized as Syrian will involve a Kafkaesque process that requires trips to different government offices, negotiating checkpoints to get to Beirut, and approaching the Syrian embassy - something many refugees fleeing civil war are afraid to do.

Lebanon's social affairs ministry, which handles the refugee issue, said the steps required were "clear and proportionate."

Nour's parents - they asked not to reveal their full names for fear of being targeted by Syria's warring factions or arrested by Lebanese authorities - are afraid of embarking on the process. They have not even tried to get her birth registered, despite understanding what that might mean down the line.

"We're scared for her future," Asheqa, her mother, said. "We're afraid that if we want to return to Syria, we won't be able to take her in because she has no documents. Where's the proof that it's your child?"

TAKING FLIGHT

Asheqa and Trad abandoned their house about three months after the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011. Like many buildings in Homs - a center of the uprising - their home was later flattened to rubble in bombardments.

Stateless3.JPGDEVASTATION: A street in Homs in March 2014. Asheqa and Trad say their house has been destroyed and they have nothing to go back to. REUTERS/Thaer Al Khalidiya

"We found out the school next door was shelled and collapsed onto our house," said 25-year-old Asheqa. "We stayed with relatives nearby for a while, but there were sixteen people under one roof, there was no work and the fighting intensified."

The couple and their two children - daughter Rahaf, now 7, and son Marhaf, now 5 - fled for Lebanon, where they have squatted on farmland near the town of Baalbek ever since. When they left Syria, they took all their identity papers, marriage certificate and family booklet, and papers relating to their children.

"When the war ends, we're keen to go back. We're not exactly looking forward to it with nothing left, but we want to go back and rebuild," Asheqa said.

Until Nour's birth is registered, however, they are stuck in exile. Children without a registered birth certificate face separation from their families if they try to cross international borders, including into Syria. Without the certificate, Nour has no legal proof of parentage or place of birth.

But her parents face a complex and often unclear registration process. And they fear arrest if they try to move around too much in Lebanon.

REGISTERING A BIRTH

The United Nations and the Norwegian Refugee Council, a humanitarian aid group, advise refugees to carry out three crucial steps to register a newborn in Lebanon. The steps still leave parents several bureaucratic procedures away from obtaining full Syrian citizenship for their child, but are the most important and time-sensitive.

First, parents should obtain a birth notification from the hospital where the child is born, or from a midwife.

Next, they should take the birth notification, their own identity papers and marriage certificate to a local notary closest to the place of birth. Notaries will then produce a birth certificate, for which they normally charge a fee of up to $20.

Finally, the parents should register the certificate with a local government registry office in Lebanon.

All this needs to be completed before a child turns one or the process becomes much more expensive and complicated, involving courts, lawyers and DNA tests.

Asheqa and Trad completed the first two steps within 10 days of Nour's birth last Sept. 12.

Now, though, they are stuck.

Restrictions on Syrian refugees, including a requirement they carry certain documents or risk arrest, have made it harder to move around. The rules force Syrians registered as refugees to pay $200 a year for the right to stay in Lebanon but ban them from formal employment. Trad and Asheqa's papers expired in January last year, right at the time the new regulations took effect.

When Lebanese security forces raided the family's camp last December, Trad and several other men were detained because they could not produce valid papers.

Trad said he and the other men were held for a day and then released with a warning to renew their residency papers or face arrest again. Since then, he and Asheqa have been afraid to leave the camp.

"We don't dare approach any authorities, not even to register Nour's birth, without renewing our residency first - we're scared they'll lock us up," Trad said.

But $200 is a huge sum for refugees, 70 percent of whom the U.N. says live in extreme poverty. And refugees not only have to pay the annual charge, they often need the help of a Lebanese sponsor, who usually charges another $200.

"So that's $400 for me, $400 for my husband, before we can go to register our daughter," Asheqa said.

In Syria, Trad, 32, drove taxis. In Lebanon he does casual labor and seasonal farm work. But none of that makes much money.

"I get maybe one day of work in ten and make 10,000-20,000 Lebanese pounds ($7-13)," he said. The family collects U.N. aid worth around $100 per month - barely enough for bread, they say. They also owe hundreds of dollars to a local grocer who has repeatedly extended them credit.

The grocer's wife, Amira Msheik, showed a reporter a handwritten list of Syrian families in the area that owe money to her husband, Ismail: Umm Ahmed, 1,250,000 pounds, Abu Saadoun 700,000 pounds, Samah, 1 million pounds.

Asheqa and Trad are now trying to save or borrow enough to renew their residency. But their debt keeps mounting. Trad found work in March. On his first day he crushed his finger in a tractor accident and had to borrow $1,000 to cover the hospital fees.

MISINFORMATION AND BUREAUCRACY

Technically, even though their own residency documents have expired, Trad and Asheqa can complete step three and register Nour with the local government office. But aid agencies say lack of reliable information and rules that are applied inconsistently mean that in practice, this rarely happens.

The Norwegian Refugee Council says many refugees give up because they lack information, fear the authorities or simply cannot afford to register. The U.N. reports similar difficulties. Aid agencies try to inform families, but are stretched due to the numbers of refugees, who often live in hard-to-reach areas.

SYRIA-REFUGEES.png(ENLARGE)

"It is confusing," Asheqa said. "We're not sure even which local government office we'd need to go to. But what's the point anyway? We still need to renew our residency."

Nour is one of 10 unregistered babies in her small camp. In the early months of 2016, a new baby was born almost every two weeks. The settlement is just one of hundreds in the Bekaa Valley alone.

In all, almost 70,000 children have been born to Syrian refugees in Lebanon since 2011, the United Nations says. This number excludes families not registered with the U.N., for which the refugee agency UNHCR has no estimate.

A UNHCR survey of 2,500 families at the end of 2015 said 68 percent did not complete the third step, leaving their babies unregistered. Norwegian Refugee Council figures from January last year showed that more than 80 percent of nearly 800 refugees interviewed failed to register.

The implications of having so many potentially stateless Syrians are worrisome.

"It pushes you underground," said Human Rights Watch researcher Bill Van Esveld. "The lack of identity documents just makes everything in life much more difficult. The door to crucial rights like education and healthcare may be closed if you don't officially exist. You're forced to live in a grey zone, or even treated like a criminal."

Khalifa al-Matar, another father in the camp, fled northern Syria's Raqqa with his wife three years ago. He has missed the cut-off point to register his son Hakam, who is now 18 months old. Khalifa now needs to get a lawyer, renew his own residency and possibly take a DNA test to prove Hakam is his.

"I tried to register Hakam," he said, breaking a piece of firewood with one hand and holding his son in the other. "There seemed to be fifty ways to do it, and no one told me how. I even tried at the Syrian embassy. They told me to go to the notary, the notary told me I had to go back to Syria, so I eventually gave up.

"Tomorrow there could be worse problems than now, and maybe we'd even need to flee Lebanon. With Hakam unregistered, we can't go anywhere."

stateless5.jpgSPECTATORS: Children climb a fence to watch a football training workshop in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan last November. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

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Additional reporting by Melih Aslan in Istanbul.

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See also: The Migration Machine | Millions of people, billions of dollars - and Europe's struggle to cope.

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Previously:
* The [Tuesday] Papers: You have a better chance of winning the Illinois Lottery - and getting paid - than a terrorist has of slipping into the United States posing as a refugee.

* The [Wednesday] Papers: Why I want to hug a woman wearing a hijab today.

* Here's The Story Of One Syrian Family That Resettled In Chicago.

* Where Have 4.8 Million Syrian Refugees Gone?

* Syrian Father And Son Whose Plight Went Viral Find Refuge In Spanish Soccer.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

#BEA16: Book Con In Chicago

"Book Expo America is the largest publishing event in North America and for the first time in almost a decade [it took] place in Chicago, instead of the Javits Center in New York," according to Good e-Reader.

"Big publishing houses have sent less people, have smaller booths and are putting on less parties. This has resulted in attendance being down 20% this year."

Oops.

Here's a rundown of the expo, which wrapped up its three-day run on Friday.

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Kenny Loggins!

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Later . . .

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Roundup.

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#BEA16.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:46 AM | Permalink

Renaissance At Studebaker

SOUTH BEND - On Thursday the Governor of Indiana helped break ground on the Studebaker factory buildings redevelopment phase of the Renaissance District project in downtown South Bend.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence spoke to an assembled crowd of dignitaries under the roof of the former Studebaker Train Dock at 635 S. Lafayette Blvd.

"South Bend and the surrounding region have a rich heritage of innovation, starting with Clem and Henry Studebaker opening their first company here in the mid-1800s," said Pence.

Women sewing auto upholstry on 6th floor of Ivy Tower (bld. 84).pngWomen sewing auto upholstery.

"This bold project continues that trend, making old new again and creating an opportunity to advance entrepreneurship, education and workforce development in Indiana. The redevelopment of this mile-long campus will transform the North Central region, fueling innovation while attracting new business and top talent to the Hoosier state for years to come."

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"The South Bend-Elkhart Region is in the middle of one of the most transformative periods in the life of our part of Indiana," said South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg. "The time has come for us to re-establish our region as a nationally significant economic powerhouse; competitive globally in the things we do best. We will become a destination for talent and a hotbed of opportunity, driving population growth and economic success."

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"This represents a bright new beginning," said Kevin Smith, building owner and Renaissance District project leader. "At one time, we produced cars sold around the world in these buildings. Now, from the same place, we'll be a beacon of light and a source of innovation for the world."

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About the Renaissance District
The Renaissance District is a four-phase, $165.7 million project. Phase one is an entrepreneurial and educational collaboration that will transform Studebaker Building 112 and Studebaker Building 113 into 220,000 square feet of renovated high tech space housing multiple tenants specializing in advanced manufacturing, life sciences, technology, education, workforce development and retail. Once complete, the Renaissance District will be the largest mixed-use technology campus in the Midwest. The campus, which totals 1.1 million square feet of real estate on 30 acres, has remained largely vacant since Studebaker ceased auto production in 1963.

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Death of the South Bend Studebaker plant.

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The South Bend Studebaker Museum.

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Old Studebaker Building Gets New Life.


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Rendering.

Daytime Rendering.PNG

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:24 AM | Permalink

May 15, 2016

Losing The Plot

If winning the close ones and having a great bullpen are required for a ballclub with post-season aspirations, then should we be concerned about the White Sox' prospects?

Four losses last week - two against the Rangers and a pair at Yankee Stadium - were decided by a total of six runs.

An 11-6 lead in the bottom of the eighth last Tuesday against the Rangers seemed safe enough until Scott Carroll, Zach Duke and Matt Albers surrendered seven runs, resulting in a 13-11 loss.

Duke failed again Sunday, giving up a two-run sixth inning homer to Carlos Beltran as the Yankees took a 5-4 lead. But the Sox were resilient, fighting back to tie the game against monster reliever Dellin Betances only to have Albers and Nate Jones give up single tallies in the seventh and eighth innings as the Sox bowed 7-5.

This is not the formula that propelled the Sox to a five-game lead in the American League Central as the week began.

But hold on. As the fellows flew back to Chicago to open a 10-game homestand beginning Tuesday against the Astros, they still held that same five-game advantage in the division. As much trouble as the Sox had last week, Cleveland dropped two of three to both the Twins and Astros, while Detroit lost five times and won only twice and Kansas City went a pedestrian 3-4.

That's not the only good news. Chris Sale improved to 8-0 with a masterful 7-1 win Friday night against the Yanks. He had no intention of turning the game over to the bullpen as he needed just 99 pitches to dispatch the Yankees, a hot team that's now won seven of their last 10 contests.

In facing Rangers' ace Cole Hamels Wednesday afternoon, the Sox chased the veteran left-hander in the sixth inning, banging out nine hits including home runs by Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie as the South Siders took a 5-4 lead. Only problem was that Dan Jennings relieved Mat Latos in the bottom of the frame and gave up three two-out singles as the Rangers scored twice for the final 6-5 verdict. (See first paragraph about bullpens.)

Frazier made a gallant dive into the stands Wednesday and got a mouthful of iron armrest. He hightailed it back to the dugout with his glove covering his face as trainer Herm Schneider moved as quickly as his ample girth permitted to attend to the bleeding Frazier. This easily could have been a broken jaw, but chalk it up as another tidbit of good news from the week. The slugging third baseman's lower lip was patched up with five stitches.

Frazier played in all three games in New York. His 12th homer Saturday was the Sox lone tally in a 2-1 loss. Frazier ranks second to Robinson Cano in home runs in the American League, and his 32 RBI have been eclipsed only by Cano and David Ortiz in this young season. Add in exceptionally solid play at third base, and you have one of the most astute deals in GM Rick Hahn's front office career.

Saturday's loss to the Yankees was absorbed by Jose Quintana, who pitched seven superb innings. Only in the second inning did he give up any runs. Quintana seems to be working a bit quicker this year. Not exactly a Mark Buehrle, but he has stepped it up a notch even with runners on base.

After retiring the first two batters in the second inning on Saturday, Jose had a 1-2 count on Chase Headley when time was called and the umpire went to the mound. Seemed that all the players in the majors had been outfitted with promotional "Play Ball" tags on the left side of their jerseys for the weekend. Apparently Quintana swiped the tag with his glove and the adhesive gave way so that the tag stuck to Quintana's mitt. Quintana was unaware of this, and the ump simply came out to remove the tag.

This may have had nothing to do with the ensuing developments, but did the pause interfere with Quintana's rhythm? Headley wound up walking, and the next three hitters, - Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius and Austin Romine - doubled, singled and doubled, respectively. I mean, this wasn't exactly A-Rod, Teixeira and Beltran. In fact, it was the seven-eight-nine hitters who beat Quintana. I just have to wonder about that interruption since he pitched the next five innings retiring 15 of 17 hitters.

Quintana might have had better luck, but Yankee manager Joe Girardi employed his script for the last three innings with Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, who fanned eight hitters amid the last 10 outs. Look for the Yankees to move up in the AL East before the leaves begin to change.

While pitching has more or less led the White Sox charge in the season's first quarter, it actually has become the mysterious element as we move ahead. Sale and Quintana appear solid. Any time their turn comes around, figure the Sox have a chance.

Carlos Rodon is a potential star, but he requires maturity and experience. He got knocked around last Tuesday before the bullpen was horrendous, all of which led to an ugly loss.

Mat Latos started the season amazingly well, but he's given up 13 runs in his last three outings.

Miguel Gonzalez, who pitched into the fifth inning Sunday, holds down the No. 5 spot in the rotation for now, but just barely. The former Baltimore righty has walked 10 batters in 15-plus innings, a sure recipe for disaster.

Meanwhile, the Sox can score runs far better than last year. Only three teams in the American League have scored more often, a tremendous improvement over 2015.

But that's just it. Last year is irrelevant because the Sox were a sorry bunch. It is useless to make comparisons to the last three years because the goal can't be to improve upon a club that finished 10 games below .500 or worse.

This is a different group, with proven veterans like Frazier, Lawrie, Latos and Jimmy Rollins, who know what it takes to be a winner.

And Robin Ventura is using his personnel in a much more intelligent manner via the hit-and-run, bunt and stolen base.

(Note: Ventura did make a questionable move Saturday in the ninth inning when he inserted Jerry Sands to pinch hit for Melky Cabrera against Chapman, whose fastball was clocked at 102 mph. Sands struck out. Cabrera, who is off to a rousing beginning with a slash line of .305/.380/.791, had faced Chapman once previously and got an RBI single. What was Robin thinking?)

With division rivals coming to The Cell after Houston visits, we should know a great deal more about this crew before it travels again 10 days from now. This isn't complicated. The bullpen needs to regain its former effectiveness while Latos, Rodon and Gonzalez (or whoever) keep the other guys in check long enough for the offense to take over.

Win the close ones while the bullpen closes out the late innings. Very simple.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 PM | Permalink

There Goes The Sun

Before we get into this week let's take a quick look back at the last week. If you are a loyal reader you know that I ripped good ol' Dusty one more time.

As if like clockwork, as myself and others pointed out, why in the world would you not put Daniel Murphy, who is batting .407 right now, behind Bryce Harper. If you also remember, the Cubs walked Harper a billion times in that four-game series two weeks ago. So yeah, Baker finally sees what other people see. You know, like reality, and bats Murphy fourth.

But you know, he'd been thinking about it for a while . . . sure, Dusty. And it seems to have worked. Way to be on top of it, dude.

He also threw out this gem to just cement how much of a bozo he is: "You go through different stages and transformations as a player and as a hitter and this is - I didn't know the other day, I had forgotten that Barry Bonds walked two hundred times or something, one year, and I was there and I don't remember - you would think I would remember two hundred times, all I remember is some home runs and hitting .370. Bryce will be fine."

Yep, this guy forgets that success comes from walking and getting on base more than batting average and home runs. But there's the thing Dusty, anyone paying attention wouldn't be thinking that you remembered that. You used to think that walking clogged up bases. So of course you don't remember Bonds walking that much!

But this leads me into this week and a manager who likes walks and really knows what he is doing, Joe Maddon. And more specifically, the ongoing Jorge Soler situation. Big Poppa Joe doubled down on Jorge and gave him four starts in left (of six games played) last week. And the results were just as bad as the rest of the season.

What was possibly the most interesting is how Joe didn't pinch hit for Soler in the eighth inning down one against San Diego in the nightcap of a doubleheader. The Cubs had lost the first game and were trying to avoid their first two-game losing streak of the season. Addison Russell didn't start, so he was available off the bench. He stayed there while Soler struck out - for the fourth time in the game.

This is a departure from the way Maddon managed last year. He was playing to win every game in 2015, and not pinch-hitting with Russell was not playing to win every game in 2016, it was playing the long game with Soler more than anything. Will it pay off?

Maybe. But I don't think so. I do think Soler could flourish, but it'll be somewhere else, not with the Cubs. Matt Szczur will be back from the DL soon, and that doesn't leave much playing time for a guy who still needs to be in there every day to develop. Yet, Theo Epstein seems to have ruled out sending Soler down.

Instead, maybe they send him away.

Maybe it's nitpicking a really strong team to look at this situation as a real issue, but man, Soler would have to get really smoking hot to make it look like dealing with this now was worth it.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 3-3 for the week, losing two of three to the lowly Padres and winning two of three from the "good" Pirates. From ESPN Stats & Info: "With Wednesday's doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Padres, six of the Cubs' seven losses this season have been to teams that are now under .500." It's like they get up for the good teams and not as up for the bad teams? Or maybe it's just baseball.

Week in Preview: The boys in blue head up north to face the Brew Crew for three and then out to San Fran for three with the Giants over the weekend. Kind of an odd road trip as they'll come back to the Midwest and St Louis after that. I'm kinda looking forward to the late night weekday West Coast games, but that's not happening until August. Thanks schedule-makers.

Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. We covered Jorge Soler getting four starts this week; Kris Bryant got the other two. For all that playing time, Soler went 2-for-14 with one walk. Barf. I hope they are right about this guy, and soon. The fans are going to start turning on him. Good thing he's only signed until 2020.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: Former first-round pick Brett Jackson is no longer in baseball. Jackson was a top-50 prospect in all of baseball as recently as 2011. Now, he is a nutrition and fitness expert for Uncaged Lifestyle. He can also, like, squat a Buick. Yeah, he is not missed.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: Okay, he's not really annoying me, but what's the deal with John Lackey's teeth?

Those choppers are actually a topic of discussion. They are way too white and there seems to be too many of them or something.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe had dinner with Mike Ditka this week. How anyone could call these guys similar is beyond my comprehension. But one thing Maddon seems to be good at is relating to all sorts of different people. We're talking about a guy that can hang with Ivy League team presidents as well as young ballplayers straight out of the Dominican Republic who know little of America. So yeah, that's not Mike Ditka, and let's not make any kind of comparison that makes them seem the same, okay?

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the Cubs-Brewers game on Tuesday will receive a Ryan Braun Photo Card. This must be so that they remember what he looks like after he is inevitably traded - to someone. No way they schedule this giveaway in August when there is little chance he is still on the team.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that good is to bad as Maddon is to Dusty.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:34 AM | Permalink

May 14, 2016

The Weekend Desk Report

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday denied that development of the Old Main Post Office and a long-dormant site at Roosevelt and Clark was more evidence of downtown-centric development that leaves Chicago neighborhoods behind," the Sun-Times reports.

Well, I'd deny it too if you're going to frame it like that. Both those sites are long overdue for development. Neither somehow supplants needed neighborhood projects. Neither is optional, like, say, the siting of the Lucas museum, which would have been a better example to put to the mayor.

"These have been dormant for years. They pay minimal property taxes. When the Roosevelt and Clark property and the post office are developed, they are going to pay millions upon millions of dollars in property taxes, which will allow us to continue to make investments in basic services like after-school, summer jobs, increased policing," the mayor said.

This is both true and not. Presumably each development will deliver multiple millions to the city in the form of property taxes, but that remains to be seen - as does the inevitable costs to the city of each project. Also, "investment" is a word the mayor uses a lot because of the way it resonates with the public, but it connotes that the property taxes from these developments - still quite distant in the future - will somehow go beyond simply helping the city pay for itself. And of course he is not dedicating the proceeds directly into summer jobs or increased policing, which by the way is a phrase he's using to deceive the public into thinking these developments will somehow pay for increasing the size of the police force, which is something the mayor has repeatedly said he has no interest in doing.

Emanuel kept his cool when a television reporter asked what he had to say to unnamed "neighborhood critics" who claim that, "Once again, downtown's getting all the goodies" while "they get the shaft."

I'm not sure why he should get points for "keeping his cool," I mean, the man is the mayor and the media's job is to ask questions - even "tough" questions for a self-styled tough guy.

Also, you can feel the scorn dripping from "reporter" Fran Spielman's keyboard when she types "unnamed 'neighborhood critics,'" as if the mayor's critics aren't well-known by name and, according to polls, constitute the vast majority of the city. Note that "critics" are making a "claim," which is another way to marginalize those whose view is different than that of authorities and officials in power.

It's also a stupid question from the TV reporter, whom Spielman refuses to name but surely knows. Again, this is the wrong either-or example. You can't move the Old Post Office to Englewood.

But the mayor who is trying desperately to shed that "Mayor 1 percent" image was clearly exasperated.

"Just this week alone, we increased the bus service on the South Side, which has been an aspiration for 20 years but never been addressed. We're finally addressing it," the mayor said.

A link would have helped here, because that's a pretty big claim; instead I had to google "Rahm Emanuel South Side bus service" myself. Here's what I found from the Sun-Times itself:

"When we took the big risk of closing down the Red Line South and ... redeveloped something in four months that hadn't been done in 40 years, it wasn't about my credibility. It was about making sure people have a modern transportation system," Emanuel said, after announcing upgrades to a half-dozen South Side bus lines.

That's it. (I'm not going to go down the rabbit hole of fact-checking the 40-year claim.)

And from the Tribune, in the 12th of 16 paragraphs:

"The mayor also used Zopp's introductory news conference to reveal upgrades to four bus routes and two Green Line branches on the South Side."

So, yeah, let's not let him say he just solved a problem no one else was willing to take on in 20 years. He's making the marginal improvements year-by-year that every mayor makes. That's his job.

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"Just two weeks ago, we were in Chatham with some major investments . . . "

There's that word again.

" . . . and the small business [help] I announced out there was one we had done in the Pullman area . . . The dichotomy of pitting one [neighborhood] against the other is not how businesses grow . . . You work at it at multiple levels - not one vs. the others. And I oppose the opposition because I think we're all in this together."

That's exactly what the opposition is saying.

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"Emanuel has blamed his dismal showing among African-American voters in a recent New York Times poll on '40 years' of disinvestment on Chicago's South and West sides, not on the public furor over his handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting video."

This is so beyond reasonable, intelligent discourse I'm loath to respond, but the obvious point to make first would be that pre- and post-Laquan polling prove the point, and, second, that now he's blaming his dismal approval rating on the six mayors (not counting eight-day interim David Orr) who preceded him.

Also, here's a link to that poll that the innovative, digital-first entrepreneurial Sun-Times that for years was under the vision of technology genius Michael Ferro didn't provide.

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"He's trying just about everything to reverse that trend and public perception and win back support from black voters who believe their unsafe neighborhoods have been left behind."

Black voters have unsafe neighborhoods, in this formulation. Not to paint with too broad a brush!

(I'm guessing that the more unsafe a neighborhood is, the less voters turned out, but I haven't looked that up. Beyond that, black voters were largely responsible for re-electing Rahm, and their neighborhoods weren't any less unsafe or left behind then as they are now.)

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"The long-awaited progress on the two massive projects in the South and West Loop has the potential to generate millions in new tax revenue, even though both projects are likely to be completed under future mayors."

So Rahm will get to take credit for doing what no mayor did before or after him!

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"On Wednesday, City Hall announced that Related Midwest was finally moving forward on development of a 62-acre riverfront site at Clark and Roosevelt that was once owned by convicted felon Tony Rezko, once a chief fundraiser for convicted ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich."

Isn't it far more salient that Rezko was once a chief fundraiser, political mentor and arranged neighbor of the president of the United States?

(See the various selections in Obamathon for a reminder.)

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour
Bumper to bumper.

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Gonzo Hawk Harrelson, Doctor Of Journalism
In The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #102.

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Obama Planning More Mass Deportations Of Immigrant Families
The president we have.

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Schlupflochs For Everyone
How German tax law allowed American mutual fund investors, American fund companies and (naturally) American investment banks to all profit at the expense of German taxpayers.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: BANAL ANML, Del The Funky Homosapien, Cate Le Bon & Mega Bog, Black Mountain, When We Was Kids, Jonny Craig, Todd Rundgren, Art Alexakis, Graham Nash, Above & Beyond, and Nada Surf.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys elevated pop music to new artistic heights with the band's 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds. With its ingenious orchestrations and earnest lyrics, the album remains an enormous influence to this day. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Jim and Greg present a Classic Album Dissection of Pet Sounds."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report

Karina Mitchell Show

"Local artists give you an inside look at the Bridging Generations: Strong Men Getting Stronger exhibit at the South Side Community Art Center."

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV19

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Impact of Youth Employment

"Elected officials, community leaders and youth provide testimony on the benefits of youth employment programs at this Illinois State Senate hearing."

Sunday at 3 p.m. on CAN TV21

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Weekend BeachBook

Alternative Story Forms At The Washington Post.

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U.S. Has Taken In Less Than A Fifth Of Pledged Syrian Refugees.

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Watch.

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Developed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:06 AM | Permalink

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

I've written about tax loopholes for decades. But recently, I wrote about Schlupflöcher for the first time, in a venture that shows how journalists can be as multinational as investment banks. We just make a lot less money.

What does Schlupflöcher mean? I'm glad you asked. It's German for "loopholes." Which is the topic that Cezary Podkul of ProPublica and I wrote about last week. We showed how German tax law allowed American mutual fund investors, American fund companies and (naturally) American investment banks to all profit at the expense of German taxpayers.

Podkul and I conservatively estimated the revenue loss to the German treasury (and the gain to everyone else) at about $1 billion a year, but tax mavens in Germany whom I talked with after our article appeared think that the real number is $3 billion, if not more.

This particular tax game, "dividend arbitrage," is played in more than 20 countries, with Germany by far the biggest market.

Podkul and I decoded dividend arbitrage by using confidential documents that ProPublica obtained, and by going multinational and coordinating research with German broadcaster ARD and the Handelsblatt newspaper in Düsseldorf.

Our German partners - including Pia Dangelmayer of ARD, who was a Burns fellow at ProPublica's New York headquarters - handled much of the German reporting. Podkul and I worked the American end. Serving our differing markets, Podkul and I wrote a U.S.-centric version for the Washington Post and ProPublica, while ARD and Handelsblatt stressed how Commerzbank, rescued by German taxpayers during the financial crisis, was helping drain revenue from the German treasury.

Podkul and I found the irony of the Commerzbank connection irresistible, but we didn't dwell on it. Or on the fact that the German government still owns 15 percent of Commerzbank and has two seats on its board.

As a result of the uproar stirred by our partners' coverage in Germany, Commerzbank promptly promised to stop doing dividend arbitrage in Germany and elsewhere.

"Div-arb," as it's known, is now being denounced publicly in Germany. Legislation that would make the div-arb game too risky and expensive for German institutions to play now seems likely to be enacted reasonably soon.

If you're not a German taxpayer - which I'm not, and most of the people who read this aren't - should you care about any of this? Absolutely.

First, the tale of how dividend arbitrage works and how we unraveled it in a multinational way shows how strange and wonderfully convoluted the world can be. Second, you can bet that the strategists who devised dividend arbitrage are exploiting the U.S. tax system in ways that we just haven't found yet.

I'll give you the short version of how dividend arbitrage works in Germany, because even thinking about the long version makes my teeth hurt.

Dividend arbitrage - which was knocked out in the United States by tax law changes in 2010 - works in Germany because taxes are withheld on the dividends German companies pay, and because German tax law treats different shareholders in different ways.

Some shareholders who pay German income tax can get credits for withheld dividend taxes, or even get refunds. Other shareholders, like sovereign wealth funds or U.S. mutual funds that don't pay German income tax, have to kiss that withheld tax goodbye. The taxes range from 15 percent for U.S. funds to 25 percent and more for certain other investors.

So middlemen enabled shares of German companies to migrate briefly from holders who can't use credits generated by the withholding tax to those who can. The long-term holder, the short-term holder and the deal makers combine to carve up the withheld tax, leaving nothing for the German treasury.

In the transactions that Podkul and I dissected, the long-term holder got about half the pot, the other players got the rest.

Because of public outrage and corporate embarrassment provoked by journalists obtaining access to confidential documents, one Schlupfloch (the singular for 'loophole') in Germany seems on the way to being closed. With luck, the same will happen in some of the other countries where dividend arbitrage is still under way.

I would like to think that someday U.S. taxpayers will become as outraged as German taxpayers have become and that corporate players and their enablers will be as embarrassed as their German counterparts.

If enough anger and embarrassment ensue, maybe we can close notorious U.S. loopholes such as "carried interest" (which lets some money managers pay lower, capital gains taxes on their share of investors' profits) and "corporate inversion" (which lets corporations desert the United States for tax purposes while remaining here to benefit from what our country has to offer).

I'm not counting on that happening. But a year or two ago, no one was counting on the dividend arbitrage loophole in Germany being closed. German taxpayers lucked out. Maybe U.S. taxpayers can, too. And on that note, I bid you, "Auf Wiedersehen."

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

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

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

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* Tax Day: Patriotic Millionaires Available For Comment.

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

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

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

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

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

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

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 AM | Permalink

May 13, 2016

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Banal Anml at Situations on Monday night.


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2. Del the Funky Homosapien at Reggies on Thursday night.

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3. Cate Le Bon and Mega Bog at Schuba's on Monday night.

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4. Black Mountain at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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5. When We Was Kids at Wire in Berwyn on Tuesday night.

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6. Jonny Craig at Wire in Berwyn on Tuesday night.

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7. Todd Rundgren at the Arcada in St. Charles on Thursday night.

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8. Art Alexakis at City Winery on Tuesday night.

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9. Graham Nash at City Winery on Thursday night.

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10. Above & Beyond at the Chicago Theatre on Thursday night.

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11. Nada Surf at Thalia Hall on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #102: Bring On The Red Line Series

Can this be real? Plus: Arrieta Already On Way Out; The Trials of George Sun; Gonzo Hawk Harrelson, Doctor of Journalism; and Biggs Time.


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SHOW NOTES

* Doug Flutie.

1:38: Can This Be Real?

* "With Wednesday's doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Padres, six of the Cubs' seven losses this season have been to teams that are now under .500, ESPN Stats & Info points out."

* "1984 Detroit Tigers, can stumble. After starting 35-5, the Tigers' division lead dwindled to three and a half games by early June."

* 1984 Tigers season.

* The McDonald's Padres.

* George Sun.

* Theo: 'This Is Where Soler Belongs.'

* Arrieta Already On Way Out.

* Jesse Rogers, ESPN Chicago:

The front office and manager Joe Maddon both agree that drafting or acquiring guys that were good at getting on was the way to go instead of trying to change players who weren't inclined to take walks. They've said as much many times throughout the years. It's not really a teachable thing.

Free agency wasn't much of an option at the time, so drafting and trading for on-base guys was the way to go. Kris Bryant fit the description for a power hitter, as did Kyle Schwarber, but so did little-known infielder Tommy La Stella. He's a great example of the Cubs "putting their money where their mouth was."

* The Fallacy Of How The Cubs Were Built.

38:25: Local Amateur Team Also Having Good Season.

* Hawk Harrelson Dashes Out Of Booth During The Broadcast To Check On Todd Frazier's Minor Injury; Internet's Head Explodes.

* 'Appears To Be OK,' Hawk Reports.

* Dr. Ken:

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* Hawk dead-ender:

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* Hahn: Ventura Extension Can Wait.

* White Sox One Of Three Teams Interested In Lincecum In Light Of Latos Red Flags.

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1:06:55: Biggs Time.

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STOPPAGE: 8:52

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:00 PM | Permalink

Obama Planning Huge Deportation Sweep Of Immigrant Families

WASHINGTON - U.S. immigration officials are planning a month-long series of raids in May and June to deport hundreds of Central American mothers and children found to have entered the country illegally, according to sources and an internal document seen by Reuters.

The operation would likely be the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families by the administration of President Barack Obama this year after a similar drive over two days in January that focused on Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina.

Those raids, which resulted in the detention of 121 people, mostly women and children, sparked an outcry from immigration advocates and criticism from some Democrats, including the party's presidential election front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has now told field offices nationwide to launch a 30-day "surge" of arrests focused on mothers and children who have already been told to leave the United States, the document seen by Reuters said. The operation would also cover minors who have entered the country without a guardian and since turned 18 years of age, the document said. Two sources confirmed the details of the plan.

The exact dates of the latest series of raids were not known and the details of the operation could change.

The operation in January marked a departure for ICE, part of the Department of Homeland Security, from one-off deportations to high-profile raids meant to deter migrants from coming to the United States.

An ICE spokeswoman said the agency does not "confirm or deny the existence of specific ongoing or future law enforcement actions." The spokeswoman said immigrants who arrived illegally after Jan. 1, 2014 are priorities for removal.

Federal resources were strained in 2014 under a wave of illegal migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, especially women and children fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

The planned new raids are in response to a renewed surge of illegal entries by Central American women traveling with their children.

From October 2015 through March 2016, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 32,000 family "units", defined as mothers and children traveling together, for crossing illegally into the United States. Over the same period in 2014-2015, there were about 14,000 such apprehensions; in 2013-2014, about 19,800.

(See graphics.)

Many of those apprehended for unlawful entry are put into deportation proceedings in court but do not show up for their scheduled appearance before a judge or ignore court orders to leave the country.

The surge in illegal border crossings has put Obama in a tough spot in a presidential election year in which he wants to see a fellow Democrat elected as his successor.

Obama has said criminal immigrants and those who have recently entered the country are priorities for deportation. He is regularly hammered by Republicans over the presence of more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

But Hispanic Americans tend to vote for Democrats, who are more sympathetic to the plight of the undocumented.

Clinton raised concerns about the January raids at the time, saying they had "sown fear and division in immigrant communities."

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has pledged to build a wall along the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told a U.S. Senate panel in March that the January raids had helped to deter Central Americans from migrating illegally. Border Patrol reported fewer illegal entries between January and March 2016 compared to October and December 2015, but there were more apprehended than over the same time period in early 2015.

A separate document seen by Reuters said Johnson was concerned about the most recent uptick in border crossings.

Immigration advocates say they have asked Johnson to abandon plans for future raids.

"Raids are not the answer," said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, a legal aide and advocacy group for migrants.

"This is a humanitarian challenge," she said.

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Previously:

* Immigration Raids Send Chill Through Little Village.

* This Is What A Deportation Raid Is Like.

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

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

* A Shameful Round-Up Of Refugees.

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

* Tell President Obama To Stop Deporting Refugees.

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour

Bumper to bumper.

trainyardsofchicagobw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 AM | Permalink

New Chicago Hotel To Offer Rooms Specifically For Visiting Athletes Like With Really Big Beds And Stuff

The Conrad Chicago - set to open this summer - will offer a block of rooms designed for professional and collegiate sports teams visiting Chicago, including 96-inch extra-large king beds and 65-inch flat-screen TVs (among the largest of any hotel in the city, perfect for reviewing game tapes).

X_KingRoom2.jpg

Conrad.png

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

Is that all you got, Conrad?

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:43 AM | Permalink

May 12, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

Well, I've stuck to my promise/threat to take a week off from the column, but I wanted to point out all the great stuff we've still featured on the site the last few days, so here goes.

* Meet Chicago's Etch A Sketch Princess.

You, Jane Labowitch, are ridiculous.

* The ABA & China, Pilsen Big In Japan & The American Intellect.

In Local Book Notes.

* How To Beat The Casino.

Combining card counting and basic strategy can help a player convert the (long-term) house edge from 2.7% in favor of the casino to about a 1% advantage to the player.

* Obama Still Allowing Federally Funded Charities To Discriminate.

Broken campaign pledge No. 1,001.

* Donald Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

The agony of choice.

* Killers & Car Salesmen.

In Local Music Notebook.

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

One of them has a second job: Playing in the NBA.

* Fantasy Fix: Often Running.

SBs in the post-Dee Gordon era.

* Are We Ready To Raise Taxes On The Rich? History Says No.

Why? Drones.

* At The Museum Of Science & Industry: DARPA!

Check out the robot dog, people.

* Keep The Grammar Police Away From Our Children.

Do not let them inflict that bullshit on our kids.

* Syrian Father And Son Tripped By Journo In Viral Video Find Refuge In Spanish Soccer.

Photos, y'all.

* How Safe Is Your Data In The Sharing Economy?

A report on who has your back - and who doesn't.

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

Featuring: Eric Bachmann, ZHU, Teen Suicide, mewithoutYou, Bob Mould, Tori Kelly, Night Ranger, Ellie Goulding, and Rotten Mouth.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

U.S. banks help screw citizens in other countries too.

* Busting Dusty.

In The Cub Factor.

* The Color Of Money.

In The White Sox Report.

* Maddon Moves In Mysterious Ways.

In SportsMonday.

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Is there a more interesting website in the world? Perhaps!

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I edit everything. Every. Damn. Thing.

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Of course, I've been active on Twitter and Facebook this week too. I'm not going to embed anything today, you'll just have to check out those streams yourself.

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Am I getting everything done I need to in lieu of writing the column this week? Hardly. It's barely making a difference. I'm at a loss. Also: I need a million dollars. Willing to take just half up front.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Now with drive-thru window.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: The ABA & China, The American Intellect & Pilsen Big In Japan

Follow the saga.

"In December 2014, the publishing arm of the [Chicago-based] American Bar Association, the preeminent professional organization for U.S. lawyers, commissioned a book by Chinese rights activist Teng Biao," Foreign Policy reported last month.

"Provisionally entitled Darkness Before Dawn, the book was to paint a picture of China's politics and society through 'the shocking stories' of Chinese human rights lawyers, as well as through personal narrative, according to Teng's book proposal, which he sent to Foreign Policy.

Teng . . . had moved to the United States in September 2014, as the situation for Chinese human rights lawyers was growing steadily worse. He took up a visiting fellowship at Harvard Law School, and began to reflect on his 11 years of experience as a Chinese human rights advocate. The book he planned to write would also have included his experience defending persecuted Chinese minorities; as the lawyer for Chen Guangcheng, the blind advocate who became famous after taking shelter in the U.S. embassy in Beijing in April 2012; and the "kidnaps [sic] and torture" Teng experienced.

But on January 28, 2015, Teng received an e-mail from an employee of the ABA, a professional organization with nearly 400,000 members, one avowedly committed to "serving the legal profession," according to its website. "I have some bad news," wrote the ABA employee, whom Teng wished FP keep anonymous. "My publisher, after receiving some concerns from other staff members here about your proposed book, has asked me to rescind the offer that I had made for DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN on December 9th."

"Apparently, there is concern that we run the risk of upsetting the Chinese government by publishing your book," the employee wrote, "and because we have ABA commissions working in China there is fear that we would put them and their work at risk."

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The Wall Street Journal called the ABA the "American Self-Censorship Association."

*

"Two Republican lawmakers are asking the ABA for 'additional clarification' about its decision to withdraw a book offer made to a Chinese human rights lawyer," the ABA Journal reported next.

"U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey want to know whether the book project was canceled because of fears or threats that ABA projects would be adversely affected in China. Smith and Rubio are chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China."

In that report, the ABA said it had not folded to the Chinese.

ABA Associate Executive Director Robert Rupp, who oversees publishing services, counters that the employee was mistaken and the reasons for the withdrawn offer were "purely economic."

Rupp gave this statement: "The 2014 decision not to proceed with publication of the book Darkness Before Dawn was made for purely economic reasons, based on market research and sales forecasting conducted by the association's publishing group.

Unfortunately, the reasons resulting in the decision were miscommunicated to Mr. Teng.

We regret that Mr. Teng received erroneous information that did not reflect the views of the association or the process followed in evaluating his proposal.

We sincerely apologize to Mr. Teng for this situation and are taking steps to ensure that it cannot occur again."

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"The American Bar Association has rejected a potentially incendiary book that is being written by the Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao, but others are exploring the possibility of publishing it," the New York Times reported next.

"With the working title Darkness Before Dawn, the book is at the center of a public brawl between Mr. Teng and the American Bar Association, which is primarily a professional organization for lawyers in the United States but also has an office in Beijing that aims to help build up the legal system in China.

"The dispute has raised questions as to whether foreign nongovernmental organizations working in China engage in self-censorship. That is an issue that will become more acute if China passes a proposed law putting more than 7,000 such foreign groups under police oversight."

By this time, the ABA had sent a letter to Rubio and Smith answering their questions and again denying that anything but market forecasting entered into their decision to pass on the book.

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China passed that law.

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@Teng Biao.

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Is America Dumb?
From SIU Press:

The image of the lazy, media-obsessed American, preoccupied with vanity and consumerism, permeates popular culture and fuels critiques of American education. In Reimagining Popular Notions of American Intellectualism, Kelly Susan Bradbury challenges this image by examining and reimagining widespread conceptions of intellectualism that assume intellectual activity is situated solely in elite institutions of higher education.

Bradbury begins by tracing the origins and evolution of the narrow views of intellectualism that are common in the United States today. Then, applying a more inclusive and egalitarian definition of intellectualism, she examines the literacy and learning practices of three non-elite sites of adult public education in the United States: the nineteenth-century lyceum, a twentieth-century labor college, and a twenty-first-century GED writing workshop. Bradbury argues that together these three case studies teach us much about literacy, learning, and intellectualism in the United States over time and place. She concludes the book with a reflection on her own efforts to aid students in recognizing and resisting the rhetoric of anti-intellectualism that surrounds them and that influences their attitudes and actions.

Drawing on case studies as well as Bradbury's own experiences with students, Reimagining Popular Notions of American Intellectualism demonstrates that Americans have engaged and do engage in the process and exercise of intellectual inquiry, contrary to what many people believe. Addressing a topic often overlooked by rhetoric, composition, and literacy studies scholars, it offers methods for helping students reimagine what it means to be intellectual in the twenty-first century.

Answer: Maybe.

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Chicago Zine Fest Happened
"The festival felt like half arts and crafts fair and half trade show," Third Coast Review said.

"Everything from comic books and whimsical postcards to prose chapbooks and guides to cultivating your own garden filled the event space."

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Photos.

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Pilsen Big In Japan
"[W]hen I heard that a photo book about Pilsen had been published in Japan, out of all places, it struck me as strange, but not too strange," Jackie Serrato writes at Chicago Voz.

"Maybe a foreign lens was capable of looking past the racist and political commentary of the time. Maybe the photographer, who was an immigrant himself, felt like an equal next to his subjects or at least sympathized with their lifestyle. I wasn't sure.

"So I found him on the internet and we exchanged some e-mails. His name is Akito Tsuda and he captured Mexican Pilsen in the 1990s."

Click through to see!

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Rebranding Anthropology
"Beloit College [anthropologist professor] Jennifer Esperanza was feeling frustrated," Dori Tunstall writes on her Design/Anthropology/Culture blog.

Why is there always images of "exotic" peoples on the cover of anthropology textbooks? "Why can't there be images of, for example, a group of white American women eating salads, on the cover?," she asked.

Esperanza's frustration "led to the redesign of the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology branding and logo mark in 2008 by University of Illinois at Chicago graphic design students."

Click through to see the glorious results.

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Chicago Novel
"Brian Doyle is known on campus for being the editor of the University's Portland Magazine, but outside of the UP community he is also a big deal," according to the university's Beacon.

"Doyle is the author of 13 books which range from collections of essays and poems to more recent novels.

"Doyle has received three Pushcart Prizes, the John Burroughs Award for Nature Essays and he has been a finalist multiple times for the Oregon Book Award.

"Chicago is his latest novel, it tells the story of a recent college graduate who moves to Chicago and the interesting people he meets along the way."

Doyle did live here for awhile and returns occasionally.

I did live in Chicago a little bit when I was fresh out of college, and to be young and strong and penniless and tireless is a perfect way to see a city. I just love Chicago I thought it was a great American city. It is in the middle of the country, rising out of the plains like Oz. It is a big city, it's a big rough, beautiful, cruel, violent, outstanding city.

This is a common formulation, but poverty, cruelty and violence aren't very romantic when you are actually experiencing them and not observing them for literary material. There's nothing "great" about any of it in a city except in terms of magnitude.

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Drag City
"A new book from Magnus Hastings is 10 years in the making - and filled with 141 photos of 130 drag queens from across the U.S., including some Chicago flavor," Chicago Pride reports.

"Why Drag? will be released May 17 from Chronicle Books and will be available from all major booksellers."

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Hey J.

"J. Ivy performs his poem 'Wings' at his Dear Father Book Concert in Chicago last month. This concert marked the launch of his new book Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain, which is now available in stores."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:14 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Killers & Car Salesmen

"Local rapper Courtney Ealy on Monday was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the 2014 murder of jitney cab driver Javan Boyd," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

Ealy, known in the rap game as Cdai, was convicted in the case earlier this year, along with Clint Massey, aka RondoNumbaNine.

Here they are:


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The Week In Chance
* Chance the Rapper Forced To Miss New York Charity Performance Due To Hospitalization.

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* Rahm Bad But Daley Sick.

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Lupe The Fiasco

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* Reminder: Fiasco & Ferro.

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Mekons Selling Cars Now

No one can tell you what to do when you're young. You are ambitious and you idolize troublemakers. You ignore hierarchy and relish breaking rules.

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Synergy.

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Liner Notes
* Blue Collar Men Bring Styx Hits To Blues Brews & BBQ.

Promo video:

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* Watch A Chicago Rocker Deliver The Weather Report On Cleveland TV News.

Click through to watch.

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Bonus clip:

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From the desk of Tim Willette . . .

I get into arguments with songs sometimes.

BTO: You ain't seen nothing yet.

Me: Yes I have.

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On the road . . .
* Tortoise in Salt Lake City on Friday night.

* Born of Osiris in Orlando on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:03 AM | Permalink

Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes

German prosecutors have expanded an ongoing investigation of international tax-avoidance deals to cover questionable trades exposed last week by ProPublica and other media partners.

Handelsblatt, which collaborated on the report along with German public broadcaster ARD, reported that Commerzbank is the target of the new inquiry for its involvement in the trades, which cost German taxpayers $1 billion a year in forgone revenues.

The Frankfurt general prosecutor's office confirmed that it had opened a new investigation but declined to name the target. A Bloomberg report also named Commerzbank as the target.

Commerzbank declined to comment. In an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper, however, board member Michael Reuther said on Wednesday the trades were "no longer socially accepted" and that the bank will exit the business in Germany and elsewhere ahead of a government move to extinguish them.

Alexander Badle, a spokesman for the Frankfurt prosecutor's office, declined to provide further details, saying that individuals, rather than corporations, may end up becoming the focus of any of its investigations.

The center of Germany's finance industry is in Frankfurt, where state prosecutors had previously set up a special unit to pursue criminal investigations into an earlier scandal involving duplicate claims for dividend tax refunds. With the newest probe, Frankfurt now has five open investigations, the spokesman said. Other states also have begun inquiries.

The investigations all center on complex transactions engineered by banks to help international investors avoid paying taxes on dividends they receive from German companies.

In the deals, known broadly as "dividend arbitrage," foreign investors briefly lend their shares of German stocks to German banks or funds that can claim a refund of dividend taxes that are withheld. The loans bracket the stock's dividend record date; participants split the tax savings. (See how it works and the annual spikes in borrowing DAX 30 shares.)

One variety of dividend arbitrage - known as "cum/ex" trades - was engineered to help investors and banks reclaim more tax money than was actually withheld by the government. These deals were outlawed by Germany in 2012, and more than 100 banks are under investigation by German tax authorities, Handelsblatt has previously reported.

But confidential documents obtained by ProPublica showed that bankers have continued to book other dividend arbitrage deals, known as "cum/cum." In these trades, only one tax refund is claimed for each share receiving dividend payments. Those transactions are now also the focus of the Frankfurt prosecutor's expanded investigation, the spokesman confirmed.

ProPublica estimated the loss from these trades at $1 billion a year to the German treasury. Documents indicate that at least 20 other countries are active markets for this type of dividend arbitrage.

Commerzbank played a key role in enabling the tax-avoidance by signing on as borrower of the shares. That struck a raw nerve in Germany, where taxpayers rescued the bank from failure during the 2008 financial crisis with a $21 billion bailout.

Leaders of the opposition in Germany's Parliament invited Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Commerzbank Chairman Martin Zielke to discuss the deals today. Neither accepted the invitation, however, because leaders of the ruling party voted against the discussion and moved it to a special committee where any meetings will be held in secrecy.

Schäuble's Finance Ministry has proposed legislation to eliminate dividend arbitrage transactions, but lawmakers have yet to vote on the measure. A hearing on the proposed reform was held on Monday; another hearing is scheduled in July.

This article was written by Cezary Podkul, with reporting contributed by Arne Meyer-Füffinger of Bayerischer Rundfunk in Berlin and staff of the Handelsblatt newspaper. Translation contributed by Jennifer Stahl.

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

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

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

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* Tax Day: Patriotic Millionaires Available For Comment.

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

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

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

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

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

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

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

May 11, 2016

Meet Chicago's Etch A Sketch Princess

Etch A Sketch artist Jane Labowitch captured the city's imagination on Monday when Chicagoist posted a piece about her latest masterpiece: Georges Seurat's "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte."

To me, the central question about Labowitch's work, however, remains unanswered: How in the world does she do that? I mean, is that one continuous line? And the shading and such? Can you erase stuff as you go along? It seems impossible.

Also, that Etch A Sketch - with her name on one of the knobs - looks pretty mini to me. Were they bigger when I was a kid? Does she get special units from the company? I went in search of answers. I found a few at Reddit.

For example:

"How did you get it home without shaking it clean?"

As long as I keep the Etch A Sketch flat, the image will remain unscathed. I took the CTA to and from the Art Institute for all 4 sittings and didn't have to deal with any fading/erasing.

"Since it's not like a normal drawing where you can just pick up the pencil and move from one part of the paper to another, do you have to plan out how you'll do an entire drawing in one continuous line before you start, or do you just pick a starting point and just go for it?"

I picked a starting point and hit the ground running!

"Did your hand(s) ever fall asleep?"

They never fall asleep, but if I were to work for 4 hours straight my wrists and fingers would begin hurting. My longest of the 4 sittings for this rendition was 2.5 hours. My fingers and wrists were doing just fine, but my butt and back were a little unhappy since I sat on the floor that day.

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Here's a photo of her working on the Seurat piece.

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Excerpt from "TAKE THAT, World:"

Ever since we were children, we were taught what was possible and what was impossible. We were taught what we could and could not do. I'll never forget a landmark day in elementary school, where we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. BUT!

Our teacher told us NOT to say sports star, movie star, artist or astronaut. How dare she limit our dreams? How dare she tell us what is and what isn't possible? If nobody dreamed of being a sports star, then THERE WOULDN'T BE ANY.

Fast forward, 10 years later. "Jane, you shouldn't go to art school, perhaps you should find a career in math. You're good at that. Go to a university, find a safe career."

I know, they were just trying to protect me. I know what I am getting myself into. I am well aware of the fact that I might become a starving artist. But I AM HAPPY.

What do I want to be when I grow up? An ETCH A SKETCH ARTIST. And I am going to do everything in my power to make my dreams come true.

She's on her way. From Chicagoist:

"[T]he Horner Park-based artist goes by Princess Etch A Sketch on social media, and currently works part time as a photo retoucher, part time as an Etch A Sketch artist. (She'll be a full-time Etch A Sketch artist starting in June, she said.)"

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Video:

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Of course, Labowitch isn't exactly the world's only Etch A Sketch artist. Here's another:

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Other places you can find Jane:

- JaneLabowitch.com.

- PrincessEtchASketch.com.

- Etsy.

- Featured at Smosh.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:59 AM | Permalink

How To Beat The Casino

If there's one thing everybody knows about gambling it's that the house always wins.

And while it is true that casinos always make a profit, there are a number of ways to cheat the system - some of which are actually perfectly legal.

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Half a century ago, mathematician Edward Thorp published a groundbreaking book outlining how a player could use "card counting" to get an advantage in the game of blackjack by keeping track of the cards left in a deck.

Ever since, casinos have been trying to eradicate card counting while card counters are getting increasingly skilled at not getting caught.

So is it possible to outplay casinos today? And what will it be like in the future?

Advantage Players

Casinos are businesses and operate by building in a margin - often referred to as the house edge. If you play roulette and bet on a single number you will be paid at odds of 35-1 when the true odds are 36-1 in Europe and 37-1 in the U.S. The fact that you are receiving less than the true odds is the house edge and explains why casinos make money in the long term. Of course, some people have to win, otherwise casinos would cease to exist.

What casinos don't like are "advantage players" - people seeking to have an edge over the house. Sometimes this involves cheating and/or illegal activities ranging from past posting (making a bet after the time when no more bets are to be taken) to collaborating at the poker table and using a computer to help make decisions.

Card counting, however, is legal. In blackjack, the aim of the player is to achieve a hand of cards whose points add up nearer to 21 than the dealer's hand, but without exceeding 21. Many hands are played from the same deck of cards, so what happens in one hand will influence what happens in future hands. As an example, if a 10 of hearts has been played from the pack then it cannot appear in the next hand. This is different from other games, such as roulette, where the outcome of one spin has no effect on the next spin.

Card counting is based on the fact that a large proportion of high cards (such as tens, jacks, queens and kings, which are all worth 10 points) left in the unplayed deck statistically improves the player's chances. This is because a player can decide not to draw a new card to a hand such as 16, but the casino is forced to, as it follows strict rules. If there are a high proportion of high cards left in the unplayed deck of cards, the dealer has more chance of busting (going over 21).

This can be combined with "basic strategy" - developed from computer simulations of millions of blackjack hands - which tells the player the best action to take for each possible card combination.

Combining card counting and basic strategy can help a player convert the (long-term) house edge from 2.7% in favor of the casino to about a 1% advantage to the player. Of course, once you have this advantage you can increase your bet.

To give a simple example, if you were playing basic strategy and were dealt a 10 and a six, and the dealer had a three showing (one of the dealers cards is visible to the player), you would stand (not take another card) as you hope that the dealer would draw a 10 and bust. If you were card counting, and you knew that more low cards had been played, you might decide to increase your stake at this point.

Evolving Battle

Casinos have introduced a number of measures to deter card counting. These include spotting those doing it and simply banning them from playing, or even from entering the casino. Another approach is to increase the number of decks from one to (typically) six, or even eight. Some casinos also shuffle the cards after only about 75% have been played or shuffle them constantly using automatic shufflers.

You might wonder why casinos don't simply withdraw blackjack. Well, it remains a popular game, and one that is still profitable. There are also many would-be card counters who are not actually that good at it, and they provide income to the casinos.

Many blackjack players have fought back against such measures, arguing that casinos should allow gamblers to use skill when playing the game. As a card counter operating on their own is relatively easy to spot (intense concentration, increasing bets and so on), a team of students from MIT showed it could successfully be done in teams. The idea is that somebody else counts the cards - they may not even be sitting at the table. When the count reaches an agreed value, they signal to another player, who joins the table to start betting. This is a lot more difficult to detect but casinos may stop players joining the game until after a shuffle to combat such a strategy.

Other players have used shuffle tracking, where blocks of cards are tracked so that you have some idea when they will appear. If you are given the option to cut the pack, you try and cut the pack near where you think the block of cards you are tracking is so that you can bet accordingly. A variant on this is to track aces as, if you know when one is likely to appear, you have a distinct advantage over the casino.

It's been 50 years since Thorp's book, and it is unlikely that the war of wills between blackjack players and casinos will end any time soon. Some of our work has investigated how artificial neural networks (simple models of the human brain) could help evolve blackjack strategies. This was done by playing thousands of blackjack hands and the computer learning what to do in any given situation, getting better each time. There is a lot of scope to see if automated computer programs could learn even more sophisticated strategies.

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Graham Kendall is a professor of operations research and vice provost at the University of Nottingham. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:09 AM | Permalink

Study Calls On Obama To Withdraw Legal Memo That Allows Faith-Based Charities To Discriminate

The Obama administration has roundly criticized states such as North Carolina and Mississippi for passing laws that allow discrimination in the name of religious freedom.

But at the same time, the administration has left in place a 2007 memo from the Bush White House that allows religious charities with federal contracts to discriminate in hiring for federally funded programs.

Now, as Obama prepares to leave office, a group of prominent constitutional lawyers is calling on the president to revoke the legal memo, which they argue has been used by religious groups to refuse to provide services, including emergency contraception for human trafficking victims, that conflict with their beliefs.

Their arguments are detailed in a legal analysis published Tuesday by Columbia Law School's Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, which includes contributions of scholars from George Washington, Emory and Brigham Young universities, among others.

The 16-page paper is, in part, an effort to put pressure on Obama to rescind the memo, an action that does not require Congress to act.

As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama criticized the Bush Justice Department for drafting it, but as president failed to follow through.

"For this administration that has been so strong in so many ways on important civil rights questions and in opposition to similar efforts at the state level to sanction discrimination - to allow this memo to remain in place - is really very unfortunate," said Ian Thompson, a legislative representative in the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington, D.C. office.

The Columbia paper, he said, is groundbreaking in terms of both its signatories and its scope.

"They cover the waterfront in terms of pointing out the dangers and the harms of the memo being in place," he said.

Bush administration lawyers wrote the memo after the Christian charity World Vision, which serves the poor in nearly 100 countries, objected to a nondiscrimination clause in a $1.5 million Department of Justice grant to fund a mentoring program for at-risk children.

World Vision argued that it should be allowed to hire only Christian employees for the program and that not allowing the group to do so would put a "substantial burden" on it.

As justification, the nonprofit cited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which bars the government from substantially burdening people's ability to practice religion unless it has a compelling interest to do so.

The Bush White House's Office of Legal Counsel interpreted the law to mean that World Vision - and by extension, other faith-based organizations - could hire on the basis of faith for federally funded positions.

World Vision argues that withdrawing the memo will only hurt the poor recipients of the charity's help.

"[It] would call into question federal laws and would divert faith-based grantees' time and funds from serving the needy to litigating to re-clarify the law," World Vision's chief legal officer, Steve McFarland, said in a statement.

The Columbia analysis says that since the government is not forcing faith-based organizations to apply for grants, it invalidates the argument that they are being substantially burdened. Instead, the organizations are freely choosing to bid on government contracts with certain conditions specified in advance.

The analysis also highlights examples in which some religious groups have expanded the scope of the 2007 memo, using it as a legal justification to cherry-pick what provisions of a federal grant to fulfill.

For example, when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops won a 2005 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to provide assistance to human trafficking victims, the bishops did not provide contraception or abortion.

The ACLU sued HHS in 2009, and the agency ended its contract with the USCCB in 2011.

"The agency is writing the terms of the grant," said George Washington University Law professor Ira Lupu, who signed the Columbia analysis. Grant applications don't ask faith-based organizations for their potential objections, and government oversight of grant recipients varies from agency to agency.

In 2014, as unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America were held at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Office of Refugee Resettlement drafted guidelines for grant-receiving agencies working with the minors. The proposed rules required caregivers to provide emergency contraception or abortion to children who required it. The USCCB, along with four other faith-based organizations, wrote a letter in February 2015 to the Obama administration to ask for a faith-based exemption to the contraceptive/abortion requirement in the grant rules. The USCCB cited the World Vision Memo in the letter. The Office of Refugee Resettlement hasn't yet issued finalized rules.

Some legal scholars argue that by keeping the memo in place, the Obama White House is giving ammunition to groups who sue the government in religious liberty cases. In March, the federal government argued against expanding RFRA in the Supreme Court case Zubik v. Burwell, which centers on just how far to accommodate religious nonprofits that object to the mandate to provide contraception to employees.

"If the inability to receive a grant constitutes a substantial burden on religion, then certainly the requirement to do something would seem to constitute a substantial burden," said Robert Tuttle, a law professor at George Washington University who signed the Columbia analysis.

The Obama administration has taken steps to address religious discrimination by faith-based organizations. On May 4, new guidelines went into effect that require government agencies to provide a channel for people receiving aid through federal grant programs to report wrongdoing by service providers. The guidelines follow a 2010 executive order - updating a Bush executive order - that prohibits discrimination against aid recipients.

"The Administration has not condoned religious discrimination against beneficiaries of federal aid," Melissa Rogers, special assistant to the president and executive director of White House Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said in an e-mailed statement, citing the May 4 guidelines and the 2010 executive order. The White House referred direct questions on the World Vision Memo to the Justice Department. The Justice Department and the authors of the memo did not respond to requests for comment.

But, legal experts say, the Obama administration is not doing all it can to protect beneficiaries until the World Vision Memo is rescinded.

Katherine Franke, faculty director of the Public Rights/Private Conscious Program at Columbia, said the guidelines put the onus of spotting and reporting wrongdoing on already vulnerable populations.

"What we're talking about is on one hand general guidance coming from the government and on the other hand a set of legal arguments," Tuttle said. "So these are government-made legal arguments that lawyers for [grant] recipients can use and say, 'We know those are your general guidelines, but we are different, and you recognized that in the [World Vision] memo.'"

The Columbia analysis follows several recent high-profile attempts to get the administration to reconsider the memo. Members of Congress wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch in February asking for a review and reconsideration of the memo. Advocacy groups wrote letters in 2014 and 2015. Maggie Garrett, legislative director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the groups haven't received a response.

Just as many organizations have written to the administration asking that it keep the memo in place. University of Virginia School of Law professor Douglas Laycock, who filed a brief with the Supreme Court in favor of the government's position in Zubik, has assured the administration that the memo is legally sound.

At the very least, the authors of the Columbia analysis hope the administration formally clarifies that the memo only applies to religious hiring - and no more.

"Leaving it in place tarnishes the civil rights record of the Obama administration," Garrett said.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2016

Fantasy Fix: Often Running

When Dee Gordon was recently suspended for 80 games, fantasy owners who drafted him with the prospect that he could win them the stolen bases category every week were suddenly left trying to rebuild their strategy with waiver wire spare parts.

Gordon led all of MLB last year with 58 SBs, so finding a replacement that productive is unlikely, but there are a handful of widely available players off to unexpectedly strong starts in the SB category:

Jonathan Villar, 3B/SS, MIL: Available in 57% of Yahoo! leagues.

A once promising prospect for the Astros who ultimately fizzled out in the shadow of Carlos Correa, Villar suddenly has found new life leading off for the Brewers.

An OBP above .370 has helped him get into position to steal an NL-leading nine bases.

I'm guessing he's still widely available because a lot people are thinking he can't keep it up, but he's playing every day right now and his combined hits and walks of 44 in 30 games this year is more than he had in 53 games last year. He's doing something right.

Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN: Available in 39% of Yahoo! leagues.

Despite 57 SBs last year, he was left on the shelf in many drafts due to his low batting average and OBP.

He's only hitting .208 so far this year, but has managed 10 hits in his last 10 games, including a pair of three-hit games.

It doesn't take much for him to pile up SBs - he has seven so far, and could easily go on a binge if the Reds continue playing him every day, which as one of the bottom feeders of the NL they have every reason to do.

Billy Burns, OF, OAK: Available in 41% of Yahoo! leagues.

His 26 SBs a year ago made him a nice waiver-wire pick-up.

He was also fairly streaky last year, and didn't do much beside steal bases and run out an abundance of triples (nine). He has eight so far this year.

Alcides Escobar, SS, KC: Available in 50% of Yahoo! leagues.

He had 17 SBs a year ago in 148 games, but already has seven this year in 30 games.

He leads off, though with a .289 OBP this year and .293 last year for a championship team he is not particularly good at it, so he just seems to be doing more with his chances.

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Disco Danny O'Shea is our fantasy fixer. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:49 PM | Permalink

Syrian Whose Plight Went Viral Finds Refuge In Spanish Soccer

MADRID - Mementos from the soccer world that brought Syrian refugee Osama Abdul Mohsen to Spain are strewn around the flat he shares with two of his sons, including a ball signed by Real Madrid's star players and a banner for the local team, Getafe.

But reminders of the makeshift nature of his new life are also everywhere, seven months after a Spanish sports academy offered Mohsen a home and help in finding a job when they heard he used to coach a first division team in Syria.

The apartment that well-wishers have housed him in is adorned with someone else's trinkets, including rows of encyclopedias in Spanish, a language Mohsen still struggles to speak. And half his family is missing.

Mohsen's story went viral after he was filmed being tripped up by a camera woman as he fled police near the Hungarian border with Serbia last September. He was carrying his youngest son Zaid, then 7, in his arms at the time, and the two fell sprawling on the ground.

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Footage of the incident helped bring him to the attention of a soccer training school in Getafe on the outskirts of Madrid, which found him work as a liaison officer. Zaid, now a year older, as well as 17-year-old Mohammed, who was in Germany at the time, live in the neighborhood with their father.

Mohsen's wife and two other children remain in Mersin, southern Turkey. The family left the war-torn Syrian town of Deir el-Zor together around four years ago.

"I see my future here," says Mohsen, whose eyes light up when talking, in broken English, about the local junior team he sometimes helps train, Villaverde-Boetticher.

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Mohsen is proud of the way his sons have settled into school and learned good enough Spanish to help translate for him.

Yet the strain and worry of recent months is also evident. Mohsen has become something of a media star, as one of the few feel good stories to emerge from Europe's migrant crisis. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are still trying to flee conflict and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.

He says he does up to three interviews a day.

But the attention has not yet helped him reunite his family, even though he says he has filed all the paperwork to apply for their visas.

"I need to relax more, I'm very tired," he says.

Spain's government said at the end of last year it would accept more than 17,000 refugees as part of EU-wide efforts to resettle asylum seekers.

So far it has only taken in 18 of those of 200 it pledged to welcome from Italy and Greece, according to the latest European Commission data, though more are expected to arrive from this month.

Spain will also take in 100 Syrian migrants from Turkey following a new EU pact to block the flow of migrants entering illegally through Greece and process them directly with Ankara instead.

It is unclear how that EU deal will affect Mohsen's situation.

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The family's love of soccer has brought them some solace as they wait for news. Mohammed plays in a local team too, while Zaid got to walk into Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium clutching superstar Cristiano Ronaldo's hand.

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Mohsen, meanwhile, is thankful his soccer links helped him find work in a country where unemployment still runs at over 20 percent. He hopes his experience coaching in Spain will one day benefit Syria as well.

"Maybe in future I can take this information for my country," he smiles.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

Are We Ready To Raise Taxes On The Rich? History Says No

Economic inequality is high and rising. At the same time, many governments are struggling to balance budgets while maintaining spending for popular programs.

That's prompted some presidential candidates to argue it's time to raise taxes on the rich. Bernie Sanders is leading the charge and would create a new top income tax rate of 54.2 percent, up from the current 39.6 percent. Hillary Clinton would institute the so-called Buffett rule to require individuals with adjusted gross incomes of over $1 million to pay an effective rate of at least 30 percent, and she'd add a new 4 percent surcharge on anyone who pulls in $5 million or more.

As White House aspirants, other politicians and voters debate whether it's time to once again soak the rich to spread their wealth around, it's helpful to consider what prompted past governments - ours and others - to raise their taxes.

We investigated tax debates and policies in 20 countries from 1800 to the present for our new book, Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe.

Our research shows that it is changes in beliefs about fairness - and not economic inequality or the need for revenue alone - that have driven the major variations in taxes on high incomes and wealth over the last two centuries.

In general, societies tax the rich when people believe that the state has privileged the wealthy, and so fairness demands that the rich be taxed more heavily than the rest. To understand whether today's voters are ready to tax the rich requires identifying the political and economic conditions that drive these beliefs.

Debating Taxation

Debates about taxation typically revolve around self-interest (no one likes paying taxes), economic efficiency (tax policies should be good for economic growth) and fairness (the state should treat citizens as equals).

While it's easy to see how self-interest and considerations about economic growth influence changes in tax policy, it's harder to discern how fairness fits into the equation. In fact, our research suggests that fairness has played a key role in either generating a consensus around raising taxes on the rich or lowering them.

Politicians and others tend to use three arguments about fairness to support or oppose taxing the well-to-do:

  • "Equal treatment" arguments claim that everyone should be taxed at the same rate, just like everyone has one vote.
  • "Ability to pay" arguments contend that states should tax the rich at higher rates because they can better afford to pay more compared with everyone else.
  • "Compensatory" arguments suggest that it is fair to tax the rich at higher rates when this compensates for unequal treatment by the state in some other policy area.

Over the last 200 years, of all the varying arguments used to support raising taxes on the rich, our research suggests that compensatory claims, especially during mass mobilization wars, have been the most powerful.

When these arguments are credible, a consensus for taxing the rich shapes policymaking.

Time To Tax The Wealthy

Compensatory arguments were important in the early development of income tax systems in the 19th century when it was argued that income taxes on the rich were necessary to counterbalance heavy indirect taxes (e.g., sales taxes) that fell disproportionately on the poor and middle class.

The chart below shows when countries raised or lowered taxes on the rich, based on average top income and inheritance rates since 1800.

As you can see, the real watershed moment for taxing the rich for many countries came in 1914. The era of the two world wars and their aftermath was one in which governments taxed the rich at rates that would have previously seemed unimaginable.

In fact, as our research shows, the most significant compensatory-based justifications for raising taxes on the rich have been to preserve equal sacrifice in wars of mass mobilization, such as World Wars I and II. This was true for both governments of the left and the right.

These conflicts forced states to raise large armies through conscription, and citizens and politicians alike argued that there should be an equivalent conscription of wealth.

The next chart shows this effect clearly by comparing average rates in countries that did and did not mobilize for World War I.

Conscripting Wealth

If mobilization for mass warfare is when major changes in taxes on the rich occurred, how do we know that the effect of these wars was due to changes in fairness considerations?

As we examine in detail in our book, when countries shifted from peace to war, or the reverse, there was also a shift in the type of tax fairness arguments made. During times of peace, debates about whether it is fair to tax the rich center on equal treatment versus ability to pay arguments. It was primarily during times of war that supporters of taxing the rich were able to make compensatory arguments.

An example of this type of argument goes like this: if the poor and middle class are doing the fighting, then the rich should be asked to pay more for the war effort. Or, if some wealthy individuals benefit from war profits, then this creates another compensatory argument for taxing the rich.

The following graph shows how the composition of fairness arguments changed in parliamentary debates in the UK before and after World War I.

We also found that these compensatory arguments had the biggest impact in democracies, such as the United Kingdom and United States, in which the idea that citizens should be treated as equals is the strongest.

Why Taxes On The Rich Declined

Although tax rates on the rich stayed high for a few decades after the major wars of the 20th century, they have declined substantially over the last 40 years. Does this decline give us further clues about the long-run determinants of what arguments work to impose higher taxes on the rich?

The most important factor has been that in an era in which military technology favors more limited forms of warfare - cruise missiles and drones rather than boots on the ground - the wartime compensatory arguments of old can no longer be used in national tax debates. Without conscription, these arguments are not credible.

In this new technological era, advocates of reducing taxes on the rich have argued that fairness demands equal treatment, while proponents of taxing the rich have been forced to fall back on traditional ability to pay arguments - that the wealthy should pay more because they can afford it. With compensatory arguments gone, in most countries the consensus for high taxes on the rich eroded over time.

We also considered the role that changing concerns about economic incentives and the role of globalization may have played in the decline in rates but found little evidence when it comes to personal income and wealth taxes.

What This Means Today

What can we conclude for today's tax debates from all of this?

Our research suggests we should not expect high and rising inequality alone to lead to a return to the high top tax rates of the post-war era, when U.S. taxes peaked at over 90 percent. This is the lesson to draw from history, and it also fits with what many American voters prefer today.

When we conducted a survey for our book on a representative sample of Americans, we found only minority support for implementing a tax schedule with radically higher taxes on the rich than the one in place today.

At the same time, citizens still care a great deal about fairness. As in other eras not dominated by war mobilization, their fairness beliefs are primarily formed by equal treatment and ability to pay views, without a consensus for high rates.

Still, even though there seems to be limited room for large changes in top statutory or marginal rates, contemporary views on fairness suggest there would be support for important reforms so that the rich pay higher effective rates.

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In the U.S., sometimes the rich actually pay a lower effective tax rate than everyone else because of loopholes and other privileges in the tax code. This is the main argument in favor of the Buffett rule, named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

The rich paying a lower share of their income than everyone else clearly violates our sense of fairness, whether you are a proponent of equal treatment for all taxpayers or argue the rich should pay more because they are best able to. Reforms to address these privileges should be something both groups can agree on.

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Kenneth Scheve is a political science professor at Stanford University and David Stasavage is the chair of the politics department at New York University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:32 AM | Permalink

How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes

In response to the nation's devastating financial crisis, Milwaukee put in place policies to help people stay in their homes; for example, giving residents three years to pay property taxes before foreclosing.

But in "Landlord Games," reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel detailed how, eight years later, unscrupulous Milwaukee landlords are exploiting those policies.

What some landlords have figured out is that they can buy a property and collect rent but not pay taxes - while letting it fall into disrepair. Then three years later, they let the city repossess the property, which erases the tax bill. And then they do it again. And there appears to be scant penalty for shirking upkeep along the way.

As their properties deteriorated, the Journal Sentinel found, the landlords accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in fines for a wide variety of violations. But they were able to pay as little as $100 every few months and get extensions for the fine payments indefinitely.

ProPublica reporter David Epstein spoke with Journal Sentinel reporters Cary Spivak and Kevin Crowe about their remarkable investigation.


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Some highlights from the conversation:

No Need to Pay At All

Spivak: "We looked at a group of landlords and saw who had ran up a considerable amount of money and fines from the municipal court. We're talking tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. They either had ridiculously easy payment plans, such as on a $10,000 fine paying 100 bucks every 60 to 90 days, or some didn't pay it at all because there was very little fear of any action by the authorities."

One of the Landlords Has a Second Job: Playing in the NBA

Spivak: "We asked around and I was told by a source that, 'Hey, you know who this is, don't you?' . . . He said it was the basketball player, the guy from the Bucks. I was like, 'Okay.' I had not heard that at all before, and I was like, 'Which guy again? I can't remember.' Then he pulled the file and said . . . It was [Dallas Mavericks guard] Devin Harris."

Property Sans Taxes

Crowe: "Milwaukee has had it very tough economically. Times are rough for a lot of people here. The mortgage foreclosure crisis was one gut punch and tax foreclosures are another one. There are a lot of people who've been in their homes a long time on fixed incomes who are having trouble paying. The city kind of took this approach to 'Well, we're going to give you three years. Work with people. Put them on payment plans, those kinds of things.' That was just another area that these guys could take advantage of and just say, 'Hey, we get to hold on to our properties for another three years without paying the taxes.'"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:20 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2016

The Grammar Police Belong In The 18th Century; Let's Not Inflict Their Rules On Today's Children

Parents and teachers in England are angry about a spelling, punctuation and grammar test that school children must sit for at the end of primary school.

First introduced in 2013, all 11-year-olds at local-authority-maintained schools will take the test on May 10. This year the difficulty level has increased significantly, in line with the new national curriculum, leading to calls for all key stage tests to be cancelled.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4's The World At One, schools minister Nick Gibb answered a typical question from the test incorrectly. He was presented with the sentence: "I went to the cinema after I'd eaten my dinner." Asked whether the word "after" in the sentence was a subordinating conjunction or a preposition, Gibb said preposition.

According to the terminology used in the tests this is the wrong answer, although the British-American linguist Geoff Pullum has argued that this terminology is based on an "ancient but incorrect analysis."

There are many aspects of the debate around these tests, and the wider culture of testing they are a part of, but a significant issue remains the purpose of learning grammar.

Grammar as a subject is distinct from the spelling and punctuation that it sits alongside on the test. Spelling and punctuation are artificial functions of the written language and can only be acquired explicitly. Grammar, by contrast, is an innate part of natural language which children acquire from birth - although the Standard English required for formal writing may differ in key aspects from their naturally acquired English.

At its best, learning about grammar is the process of enabling children to understand the structures of English. This can help them to improve their own writing in a range of styles, and provides a foundation from which they can understand how the grammars of other languages differ from their own.

At its worst, learning about grammar is about acquiring abstract terminology and a set of nit-picking (and occasionally outdated or simply invented) rules about "correct" grammar. This can result in children losing all interest in their own language, as well as any faith in their own ability to write well.

These two poles of grammar teaching - the "descriptive" (learning to describe structure) and the "prescriptive" (learning a set of prescriptions about language) - have been evident in the teaching of grammar from the outset.

The government's own aims are sometimes nakedly prescriptive. The fact that "children will be expected to understand how to use the subjunctive" was trumpeted as a key feature of the higher standards in English introduced when the revised National Curriculum was announced in 2012.

This decision makes little sense given that the use of the subjunctive is rapidly dropping out of even the most formal English.

Grammar Obsessions

Before the 18th century, English grammar was rarely taught explicitly. If you learned grammar, you learned it via grammars of other languages, most notably Latin. The original purpose of grammar schools, first set up during the medieval period, was to teach Latin.

lowth.jpgGrammar obsessive: Robert Lowth/Engraving by LE Pine

The 18th century saw an explosion in the publication of books about English grammar. The most influential grammarian of his day was Robert Lowth, whose 1762 Short Introduction to English Grammar went through over 40 editions before 1800. Lowth has often been held responsible for all later prescriptive rules, including the split infinitive.

As Ingrid Tieken Boon van Ostade has shown, however, Lowth's prescriptivism is less evident than has generally been assumed. He certainly had nothing to say about the split infinitive.

Still, the success of Lowth's Grammar prompted others to emulate him and brought about a surge of linguistic consciousness quite unlike anything before. Grammar books became one of the publishing phenomena of the day. The result was a circular process.

The idea that incorrect grammar was a terrible social stigma meant that there was a lucrative market for self-improving grammar books. Many authors hastened to supply this market by writing grammar books, which reinforced the idea that bad grammar was a terrible social stigma.

Along the way, many new "rules" were formulated by grammarians keen to fill their pages, and there was a proliferation of exercises in bad grammar designed to test students' mastery of these rules.

What The Romans Didn't

In his preface, Lowth writes that: "The principal design of a grammar of any language is to teach us to express ourselves with propriety in that language." This line of reasoning led one of his imitators, William Milns, to make claims such as: "Latiné loqui, the speaking of correct Latin was an accomplishment which even the natives of ancient Rome could not attain but by long and assiduous study."

No linguist today believes that Roman school children had to be drilled in amor, amas, amat in order to speak their native language fluently. Yet, pressures towards a prescriptive teaching of grammar remain, particularly in the context of the new nationally administered test.

The need to reduce grammar to something that can easily be tested through multiple choice questions gives the impression that grammar is a subject for which there are always simple right and wrong answers. It also confuses the ability to understand language structure with the ability to obey arbitrary, prescriptive rules.

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Jane Hodson is a senior lecturer in English Language and Literature at the University of Sheffield. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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See also: What Grammar Pedants And Fashion Victims Have In Common.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Eric Bachmann at Schuba's on Saturday night.


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2. ZHU at the Concord on Sunday night.

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3. Teen Suicide at the Concord on Friday night.

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4. mewithoutYou at the Concord on Friday night.

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5. Bob Mould at the Metro on Friday night.

Kot: "For . . .80 breathless minutes, the Mould express roared through 24 songs. Even band introductions were conducted hurriedly, as if there was no time to waste on such niceties.

"With Jason Narducy on bass and Jon Wurster on drums, Mould is back in his natural habitat: a power trio. He sprinkled songs from his previous trios, Husker Du (from the '80s) and Sugar (the '90s) amid tracks from his three most recent albums, recorded with Narducy and Wurster, and he moved fluidly among the eras represented by the three combos."

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6. Tori Kelly at the Rosemont Theatre on Friday night.

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7. Night Ranger at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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8. Ellie Goulding at the old Horizon in Rosemont on Friday night.

Legaspi: Loads of charm, stamina.

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Catching up with . . .

Rotten Mouth at Lincoln Hall last Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:12 PM | Permalink

At The Museum Of Science & Industry | DARPA

DARPA was created in 1958 at the peak of the Cold War in response to the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, the world's first man-made satellite, which passed menacingly over the United States every 96 minutes.

Tasked with preventing such strategic surprises in the future, the agency has achieved its mission over the years in part by creating a series of technological surprises of its own, many of which are highlighted in the Chicago exhibit, Redefining Possible.

"We are grateful to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry for inviting us to tell the DARPA story of ambitious problem solving and technological innovation," said DARPA deputy director Steve Walker.

"Learning how DARPA has tackled some of the most daunting scientific and engineering challenges - and how it has tolerated the risk of failure in order to have major impact when it succeeds - can be enormously inspiring to students.

"And for adults, we hope the exhibit will serve as a reminder that some of the most exciting work going on today in fields as diverse as chemistry, engineering, cyber defense and synthetic biology are happening with federal support, in furtherance of pressing national priorities."

The 5,000-square-foot exhibit features displays and activities for all ages, including:

* Digital work stations where kids can build their own virtual robots and learn about which kinds of limbs, sensors and other components will allow their creations to perform specific tasks, from disaster relief to manufacturing to caring for the elderly.

* A large scale model of the Sea Hunter, DARPA's recently christened 132-foot submarine-tracking ship, designed to cruise for thousands of kilometers and months on end without a single crew member aboard, with video of the vessel's first open-water speed trials.

* A look at the small, sophisticated, implantable electrode arrays that show promise for the treatment of traumatic brain injury and are already being used to enable neurological control of prosthetic limbs.

* One of the world's most sophisticated robotic arms, as light as a biological arm and complete with its own power supply, now being manufactured for use by people living with amputation.

* Kid-friendly interactive displays revealing where, in our everyday lives, DARPA-developed technologies are at work, including the many components of your smartphone that are dependent upon DARPA breakthroughs.

* A magnified look at the intricate beauty of today's astonishingly powerful microelectronic chips, which are heralding a new age of artificial intelligence.

* An "air legs" exoskeleton that provides the lower limbs of soldiers or others with rhythmic bursts of power to increase endurance and decrease injuries during long hikes with heavy loads.

The exhibit prominently features Atlas - the 6-foot-2-inch humanoid robot designed to navigate rough outdoor terrain and provide assistance after natural disasters - and Spot, the robotic dog.

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Atlas:

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Spot:

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Attendees can also traverse an immersive, 100-foot timeline of DARPA-supported technological breakthroughs, from unmanned aerial vehicles and x-planes to chip-scale atomic clocks, man-made lightning, and an Ebola vaccine grown in tobacco plants.

The DARPA exhibit will run through September 5, 2016.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:16 PM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Agony Of Choice

Donald Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.


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Previously in Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter!:

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

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Plus:

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And:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Maddon Moves In Mysterious Ways

Joe Maddon is on such a roll it's starting to get creepy.

Heading into the bottom of the seventh in Sunday's 4-3, 13-inning victory that gave the Cubs a four-game sweep of the Nationals, the manager looked ahead and knew he wanted pitcher Trevor Cahill to pitch at least a third inning in relief (he had already tossed two shutout innings after Jake Arrieta went five) in the eighth.

Maddon had also already used up most of his bench and wanted to save his last potential pinch-hitter, Javy Baez, for later in the game - even though the Cubs trailed 3-1 at that point. So he had Cahill hit, figuring he would sacrifice an out to preserve a little bit of his bullpen and one final option off the bench.

So what does Cahill do? He bashes a completely unlikely base hit. And even that was extra fortunate, what with the line drive deflecting off pitcher Oliver Perez's glove and back to shortstop Danny Espinosa, who underestimated how much time he had (Cahill is not exactly a speedster) and tried to rush a slick bare-handed play. He bobbled it.

Next up was Dexter Fowler and he was hit by a pitch, giving the Cubs men on first and second with no outs. Perfect time for a sacrifice bunt, right? Except the next hitter, Jason Heyward, had laid down all of one successful sacrifice in his career (over 3,500 plate appearances). The ensuing bunt was perfect.

Up next was Kris Bryant, whose career spray chart caused the Nationals to play him as an extreme pull hitter, with the second baseman just to the right of second base as one looks out at the infield. Bryant hit a laser beam through the gaping hole on the right side for a base hit. The game was tied.

We now return to our central question: Why was Maddon so determined to have Cahill pitch a third inning? It wasn't as though the bullpen was truly taxed in any way, although you knew he didn't want to use his top two: Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, or Neil Ramirez, due to their work loads in the first three games of the series.

It was as if he had a feeling the game might go long and he might need not just Cahill to chip in a little extra. And then it went 13 innings. Like I said, creepy.

Cahill, Adam Warren and Justin Grimm all ended up tossing multiple innings of shutout relief. Travis Wood only pitched the 13th but he was in perfect position to go long (four or more innings) if need be. And the great thing about Wood being in there was that had the game made it to, say, the 15th and the Cubs had found themselves in another position where they didn't want to pinch-hit for the pitcher, well, Wood is their best hitting pitcher.

And finally they still had Clatyon Richard in reserve. He'll be primed and pumped for tonight if they need a long reliever against the Padres.

The other most notable element of Sunday's game was Maddon's absolute refusal to get beat by Bryce Harper. And that resulted in some history, as Harper became only the third player ever to record six walks in a game and the first to reach base seven times in a game without getting a hit.

Here is where Madden's determined use of analytics (at least most of the time) paid off. After walking Harper worked to limit if not eliminate the damage (in terms of Nationals runs scored) for a third, fourth and fifth time in a single game, part of Maddon's brain must have been screaming that at some point just putting the Nationals star on base would backfire. But the Cubs manager was able to analyze the situations separately. When Harper came to the plate a sixth time, the specifics of the inning called for another walk, which was given. And that was the case again when Harper's seventh at-bat rolled around. And sure enough, the strategy paid off again, and again.

Now history beckons. At 24-6 the Cubs have had one of the all-time great starts to a major league baseball season. Of course they can win 10 more in a row and still not match the Tigers' 35-5 start in 1984. But still, pushing for every win they can add to the current seven-game win streak makes sense if for no other reason than to keep moving up the list of great starts through 30 games, then 31, and so on.

And just think, there are only 132 more games to go until the postseason!

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SportsMonday appears every Monday. Jim Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:46 AM | Permalink

Busting Dusty

One of the more interesting - or maybe more correctly - infuriating things that happened last week was that former Cubs manager Dusty Baker came to town. And of course Dusty can't not open his yap and spew complete and utter BS.

I mean, he should ride in this thing because he's so full of bologna.

Granted, it's grasping at straws these days to find anything to make you angry about the Cubs, but hand it to Dusty to light that old fire.

For example, Dusty was asked about how this current Cub team stacks up against his 2003 team. You know, the Bartman team.

His answer was that, essentially, this year's Cub bullpen is a lot better. Because, you know, his bullpen in 2003 was so bad he had to ride his starters too hard.

I mean, really? You can't just say something like "We'd give them a run for their money?" Or, "That would be a fun series to watch?" How hard is it to just kind of give a non-answer and move on?

Nope. Not Johnnie B. Baker. He always has to blame someone else for his shortcomings. Nothing is ever his fault.

But you know what? I looked it up and found out that the 2003 bullpen wasn't all that bad. In fact, they were 8th-best in all of baseball and 4th-best in the National League. Fourth-best! Dusty's pen that year had a cumulative 1.4 Wins Above Average, compared to -1.3 for that year's world champion Florida Marlins.

Do you think Dusty even knows that? Does he care? No, he doesn't care about the truth.

Now, I'm not saying the 2003 bullpen were the Nasty Boys. But give the finger-pointing a rest.

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Oh, and Dusty had a gem of a line about people missing him.

"Sometimes people appreciate you more when you're gone than when you're there," he said.

Yeah, and sometimes people are super cool with you not being around. I'm going with that one. No one has appreciated you more through the years, Dusty.

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Sweet weekend series watching the Cubs get the brooms out on the Nats. And explain to me why Daniel Murphy - you know, the guy batting almost .400 this season - is either not directly in front of Bryce Harper or behind him in that lineup? Oh, that's right: Because Dusty's managerial philosophy is still locked in the 1980s. Dusty Baker, you are not missed.

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See also the item "In Dusty We Cannot Stand" in the Beachwood Radio Hour Show Notes here.

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Week in Review: The Cubs went 7-0 for the week, sweeping three from the Pirates and four from the Nats. There were even close games this weekend with the Nationals. And it's good to see the Cubs letting teams think they have a chance sometimes.

Week in Preview: The boys in blue stay home for six more games, with the Padres and Pirates coming in for three each at the Friendly Confines. I will say that it would really stink to get to one of those games this week and have it be the one where they lose. You'd have to really feel lousy if you saw a loss right now. They just don't happen. And you'll have to take your W flag home and feel sad.

Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. Did you know that there's a site that covers the coming and goings on Matt every day? (Sadly, no such site for Matt Murton.)

As for the outfield this week, with Szczur on the DL, Jorge Soler had three starts in left, Kris Bryant had two, and new Cub Ryan Kalish had one. Jorge (Joe Maddon seems to call him George) went 2-for-14 for the week with one walk. He got a handful of pinch-hitting at-bats too. The average is .181 so far and the OBP .274. Not sure how a team that wins this many games can handle all that deadweight, but they are doing it.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: The Cubs seemed to have made a solid move in trading Chris Coghlan late in the offseason. Currently Chris is batting .144 with a .230 OBP. Yikes. I can't say exactly why Coghlan bugged me last season with the Cubs, but he just kind of did. I just thought they could do a lot better. And they really have this season. Yeah, he is not missed.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: Clayton Richard has been kinda looking like there was a reason the Cubs got him for basically nothing last year. I mean, they got him for cash, which is something to people like you and me, but cash is kind of like giving up a bucket of balls in major league baseball transactions. I think he'll be gone soon enough.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe kept the silly going this week, bringing in a mariachi band on Cinco de Mayo. I couldn't really tell if Dexter Fowler thought it was cool, or stupid, or just another silly thing, or it made him want to grab a taco before the game. But it seems like he was into it enough, and who couldn't go for a pre-game taco anyway?

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending Cubs games this week will receive jack squat. Yep, just a ballgame. But if you were to go to D.C., the Nationals are giving away Bryce Harper Bobbleheads. At first it might look like a home run trot he is posing for, but it's actually just him being intentionally walked again.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that at this pace Bryce Harper will never get another hit in his career.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:53 AM | Permalink

The Color Of Money

One of the many stories Bill Veeck would tell about his daddy, who was president of the Cubs in the 1930s, was this one: One afternoon he was in his father's office where the stacks of cash from that day's game receipts were resting on the old man's desk.

"Can you tell where this money came from?" Veeck Sr. asked the puzzled young Bill. The lesson? A dollar has the same value regardless of whence it came - be it from the wealthy or the poor, from white, brown, or black folks, or from immigrants or native-born Americans. All paying patrons were welcome at Veeck's ballpark.

And yet, baseball still faces great challenges attracting dollars from across the spectrum. I thought about this while reading The South Side, the new book from WBEZ's Natalie Moore, during the same week as Cinco De Mayo, when the Sox entertained the Red Sox in the finale of a three-game series while the Nationals invaded Wrigley Field for the first of a four-game set.

Baseball had moved onto center stage in Chicago earlier than in recent memory, with the Bulls already weeks into their off-season hibernation and the Blackhawks' hopes for back-to-back Stanley Cups dashed 10 days previously. Of course, Cub mania alone would have been enough to grab the spotlight, but the surprising Sox, now winners of 22 of their first 32 games after sweeping the sickly Twins over the weekend, have spiked the fever a few degrees.

In one of their few sloppy games of the season Thursday, our Sox dropped a 7-3 four-hour decision to Boston's Sox before 20,126, while the North Siders disposed of the Nats 5-2 as 37,564 looked on.

While friends of mine who were at Wrigley said they weren't aware that the Cubs gave so much as lip service to Cinco de Mayo (at least beyond the locker room), the Sox promoted the game as Cinco de Miller, because, after all, the beer people sponsored the game. Sitting behind the tarp down the left-field line, sounds of Spanish permeated the air much like it does at most games at The Cell.

The Sox posted photos of former players of Mexican descent on their vast new video board. It was nice to be reminded of guys like Salomé Barojas, Francisco Barrios and Aurelio Rodríguez.

It wasn't so nice to be reminded of the stereotypes that still exist, as the goofy mascot Southpaw strutted around the premises wearing a straw sombrero and a pencil-thin mustache curled upward at both ends. Someone in the marketing department apparently has been consulting the Trump Playbook. Made me wonder if a Jewish heritage night would feature Southpaw sporting side curls and a tallith.

Anyway, compared to the White Sox, the dollars have rolled in far more easily for the Cubs for quite a while now, especially since 1988 with the arrival of lights at Wrigley Field. Regardless of won-loss records, since 1985 the Sox have outdrawn the Cubs only in 1991-92, when the opening of The Cell piqued the curiosity of thousands of extra people, many of whom probably haven't returned.

Even in the championship season of 2005, and the season that followed it, weren't enough to push Sox attendance over that of the Cubs. And now that there is a steamroller of a team on the North Side, the re-invigorated, energetic White Sox will nonetheless continue to play second fiddle to the Cubs for the foreseeable future.

I know Sox fans who are indignant that the Cubs are a much bigger draw. But I rather like the fact that I don't have to wait in long lines for concessions and bathroom privileges. If I drive, the lot isn't full. If I take the "El," I can get a seat. I pass through the security lines quickly and exit the park with ease, as opposed to Wrigley where fans inch toward the exits only to creep slowly toward the turnstiles at the Addison station.

Of course, years ago the Sox were kings of Chicago baseball, outdrawing the Cubs in all but one year - 1958 - from 1951 until 1967.

So what happened? Like most things Chicago, I suspect race has played a role. As Moore writes, "Due to the city's hypersegregation, white parents equate the South Side with danger and dysfunction."

That would certainly keep some white folk outside of the immediate area from traveling to the Sox's park - though I grew up on the North Shore and we went to lots of Sox games as kids. Bless my parents.

Having said that, the times were much different. The newspapers weren't filled with daily stories about violent crime. If white kids like the Grimes sisters or the Schuessler-Peterson boys were found murdered in "safe" (white) communities, you'd hear about it. But day-to-day the threat from Russian missiles was to be feared much more than violence in our communities.

The South Side simply was a place to stay away from because black people lived there. And black people were often given plenty of reason to stay away too, as the Dan Ryan built a racial barrier that was only compounded by the nature of the new stadium that replaced the old Comiskey. From Deadspin:

What happened next was everything Bess had sought to avoid. New Comiskey was thrown up in 1991, a suburban stadium dropped into an urban setting, uprooting 250 households, disrupting the street system, turning the old Comiskey Park into a parking lot and more or less gutting the old neighborhood of Armour Square.

It's not clear if the White Sox ever seriously considered Bess's proposal. My guess is Jerry Reinsdorf took one look at a rendering and laughed himself out onto 35th Street.

Bess never really had a chance, anyway. As Charles C. Euchner has written, the architect's proposal would've removed the buffer zone - a park - between black Armour Square and white Bridgeport, a politically influential neighborhood that has been home to five Chicago mayors, including the current one, Richard M. Daley.

The Bridgeporters never would have allowed it, and so the ballpark that sprang up across from old Comiskey was, in many ways, a tribute to the characteristics of its surroundings: small-minded, hostile and all about clout. That, in Chicago, is a true neighborhood park.

Still, today's Sox are trying to heed the teachings of Old Man Veeck. Few care anymore where the dollars come from. This ballclub simply knows they need as many of them as possible. Hence Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with gusto at The Cell. With Latin stars such as Jose Abreu, Jose Quintana and Melky Cabrera, the Sox are marketable in the Latino community.

Billboards around the city - the one pictured here is from last year at Armitage and Ashland on the North Side - hype the Sox to the Spanish-speaking community.

Sox Billboard.jpg

The Cubs might advertise in Spanish, though I've never actually seen that. Perhaps they don't have to.

The Sox clearly have African-American fans, starting with the guy in the White House. But my observation is that less than 10 percent of the people in the stands are black. The team also lacks a big-name African-American player. Black kids are very aware of Derrick Rose, but ask them about Austin Jackson or Jimmy Rollins and they'll draw a blank.

This is not a situation unique to the White Sox, as Major League Baseball has had initiative after initiative to encourage more African-American kids to play the game, while pushing its franchises to hire more black people for front office and managerial positions.

Looking to the future, if the Sox marketing department seeks to attract a larger black audience, an African-American fixture on the field would certainly help. I'm sure they're pulling hard for shortstop prospect Tim Anderson to emerge as the star of the future.

Of course, winning ballgames always has and will continue to be by far the best marketing tool. For the first time in nine seasons, Sox attendance actually increased last year, a slight improvement over the previous two seasons. Aside from a slightly better, but still disappointing, 76-86 record, pre-season trades and signings contributed to the increase. After 15 home games this spring, they've averaged 19,691, a slight dip from their first 15 games a year ago. Obviously Sox fans were skeptical as the season began.

However, that will change rapidly if the boys continue to play even close to their present .688 pace. After losing two of three to the Red Sox, Robin Ventura's club showed healthy resilience over the weekend as the bullpen bailed out Mat Latos on Friday night, protecting a slim lead en route to a 10-4 win. It was Chris Sale's turn on Saturday, and he ran his record to 7-0 by beating the Twins 7-2. Sale walked one and hit two batters in the first inning when Minnesota scored both its runs. After that it was all White Sox.

Jose Quintana closed out the homestand with seven innings of one-run ball before yielding to Nate Jones and closer David Robertson in a tight 3-1 contest. The Sox are now 20-0 when leading after six innings.

The Sox face the Texas Rangers in Arlington for three games beginning Monday night. Having been swept by the Sox in Chicago two weeks ago, the Rangers will have all the incentive they need. This weekend will find the Sox in Yankee Stadium before returning home, where it's a good bet they'll find more fans in the seats, bringing in more dollars which will all look the same.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:29 AM | Permalink

How Safe Is Your Data In The Sharing Economy?

The "sharing" or "gig" economy is booming - you can get rides with companies like Uber, hire people to run errands with services like Taskrabbit, or find a place to stay on websites like Airbnb.

These companies connect people offering services to people purchasing them, and in the process they have access to vast amounts of personal data.

But how well do these companies protect your information from the government?

The sixth annual "Who Has Your Back" report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation surveyed the biggest providers in the gig economy to find out.

"These companies collect information on what you buy, where you sleep, and where you travel - whether you are offering services or purchasing them," said EFF activism director Rainey Reitman.

"Often they go even further, collecting contents of communications and geolocation information from your cell phone.

"But are these companies respecting their users' rights when the government comes knocking? For much of the gig economy, the answer is no."

This year's report analyzed 10 companies, and only Uber and Lyft earned credit in all the categories we assessed, including transparency around government access requests, advocacy on the federal level for user privacy, and commitment to providing users with notice about law enforcement data requests.

FlipKey, Airbnb and Instacart also received stars in some categories, but Getaround, Postmates, Taskrabbit, Turo and VRBO received no credit in any category.

"We see a clear trend in our report: while some sharing economy companies have prioritized standing up for user privacy in the face of government demands, many others have not," said EFF senior staff attorney Nate Cardozo.

"This is a wake-up call to the gig economy companies and the people who use them. It's time for these services to catch up with the rest of the industry and safeguard our data from government overreach - ensuring that law enforcement access to this trove of information is fair, just, and only in accordance with the rule of law."

EFF has published its "Who Has Your Back" report - an annual overview of the public policies and practices of major technology and communications companies in response to law enforcement requests - for six years.

While no company achieved credit in every category in the first report back in 2011, more than half of the companies got stars in four or five categories in 2015, and 23 of 24 followed industry best practices.

As the first set of companies we looked at has improved so substantially, we decided it was time to turn to the sharing economy.

"Shifts in industry momentum can take time. It took several years before we saw widespread adoption of the best practices promoted in our first 'Who Has Your Back' reports," said EFF deputy executive director Kurt Opsahl.

"The users are the lifeblood of these companies, and next year's report will provide them an opportunity to adopt best practices and stand up for the people who make their businesses work."

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The report.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:14 AM | Permalink

May 7, 2016

The Weekend Desk Report

For completists, there was no column on Friday.

I know I said this last week but muddled through anyway, but I might take a week off. We'll see. I'm torn between competing impulses of how to spend my time at the moment.

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I work really hard on the Show Notes for The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour every week, and with the latest installment now up I want to particularly encourage you to check them out, even if you don't listen to the podcast. Which you should listen to. But at least look over the Show Notes. I'm pretty sure you won't be sorry.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #101: You're Gonna Want To Read These Show Notes
Cubs can pick any eight players and put 'em at any position and they'll win. Plus: Crane Kenney, Still Employed By Cubs, Strikes Again; Rahm Emanuel Is The Crane Kenney Of Mayors; Dusty Cannot Be Trustied; Rogers!; Ding Dong Danks; Leicester vs. Lester, and much, much more!

TrackNotes: This Year's Derby A Value Proposition
"I'm big on Outwork, but please don't tell anyone," our man on the rail Tom Chambers writes. "He's 15-1 on the morning line from the 15-hole and I like that just fine. I would be greedy at any higher and, well, don't go below that!"

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Courtesy, Astronautilas, Stick Men, Bane, John Waite, Big Black Delta, Skeleton$, Jungle Rot, Amon Amarth, The Runner Ups, Social Repose, Dying Fetus, The Acacia Strain, The Shades, Widespread Panic, Tweet, ADT, and Cross Record.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Swedish neo-soul singer Seinabo Sey is emerging as a major voice in pop music, blending R&B and African rhythms. She joins Jim and Greg for a conversation and performance. Then they review the new album from pioneering ambient producer Brian Eno."

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Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY
Stick it where it fits.

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So Sue Them: What We've Learned About The Debt Collection Machine
Greedy racist pigs, documented.

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BeachBook

Hogs Are Hot In Illinois.

An even better headline might be "5 Reasons Why Hogs Are Hot In Illinois." Have a sense of wonder.

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Repeat Customer Pays $9.25 A Night To Stay At Palmer House Hilton.

What this headline is missing is "And You Could Too" at the end.

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Companies Put $221 Billion Into Low Tax Jurisdictions In 2015: UN.

Better: Global Tax Avoidance Bill: $221 Billion.

Or: Companies Avoiding Taxes Screw World's Citizens Out Of $221 Billion.

Don't give me this "low tax jurisdictions" crap.

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MLB Won't Give Me Permission To Describe Game To Friend.

Perfect.

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Cartoonist Fired From Farm News For Pro-Farmer Cartoon.

An odd attempt; he was fired because his cartoon suggested that farmers didn't receive a fair slice of the pie when it came to agribusiness profits. So maybe " . . . For Questioning Agribusiness." Or " . . . For Teasing Agribusiness." Kick it around the writers' room.

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When Is Death In A Combat Zone Not A Combat Death? When The President Says We're Not At War In The Combat Zone Because If We Were, He'd Be Violating The Constitution. Which We Are And He Is.

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Vote Horse 2016.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Michael Ferro's . . .

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The Beachwood Tip Line: No scrubs.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Astronautalis at Schubas on Thursday night.


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2. Stick Men at Reggies On Wednesday night.

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3. Bane at Beat Kitchen on Monday night.

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4. John Waite at SPACE in Evanston on Thursday night.

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5. Big Black Delta at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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6. Skeleton$ at the Constellation on Monday night.

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7. Jungle Rot at Reggies on Tuesday night.

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8. Amon Amarth at the Riv on Thursday night.

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9. The Runner Ups at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.

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10. Social Repose at the Wire in Berwyn on Sunday night.

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11. Dying Fetus at Reggies on Tuesday night.

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12. The Acacia Strain at Reggies on Tuesday night.

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13. The Shades at City Winery on Tuesday night.

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14. Widespread Panic at the Chicago Theatre on Thursday night.

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15. Tweet at Promontory on Thursday night.

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16. ADT at the Owl on Wednesday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Courtesy at Situations last Friday night.

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Cross Record at Schubas last Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:37 AM | Permalink

May 6, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #101: Chicago Baseball Is The One Dog

Cubs can pick any eight players and put 'em at any position and they'll win. Plus: Crane Kenney, Still Employed By Cubs, Strikes Again; Rahm Emanuel Is The Crane Kenney Of Mayors; Dusty Cannot Be Trustied; Rogers!; Ding Dong Danks; Leicester vs. Lester, and much, much more!


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SHOW NOTES

* The One Dog.

* With the Cubs.

4:20 Cubs Pick Any Eight Players, Win.

* Thursday night's lineup.

* Are Javier Baez And Jorge Soler Headed In Opposite Directions? Joe Maddon Weighs In.

* Ben Gonzobrist.

* Jason Heywrist.

* Dexter Fouler.

* Addition Russell.

19:46: Cubs Contract Chasms.

* Jake Arrieta.

* Theo Epstein.

24:30: Crane Kenney, Still Employed By Cubs, Strikes Again.

* Liquor not quicker.

* Quigley goes wiggly on Wrigley.

* Kenney at 27:07: EVERY FAMILY WHO STAYS IN THE CITY INSTEAD OF MOVING TO THE SUBURBS IS BEING IRRESPONSIBLE BECAUSE OF THE SCHOOLS. Every rich white family, I suppose he means.

* Crane Kenney Sells One Winnetka Home, Buys Another.

28:54: Rahm Emanuel Is The Crane Kenney Of City Government.

* George Lucas Donates $25 Million To The Needy U Of C Lab Schools.

* Mellody Hobson Unloads On Friends Of The Parks For Asking Federal Judge To Enforce The Law, Which He Has Done So Far By Simply Allowing Lawsuit To Proceed.

* Hell hath no fury like entitled rich people scorned.

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34:25: Cubs Kill Late Friday Afternoon Start Times. Kenney!

38:43: In Dusty We Can't Stand.

* Why Dusty Baker Pushed Prior, Wood So Hard, According To Dusty Baker.

* FYI, Dusty's bullpen that year was Joe "Beer Can" Borowski (33 of the team's 36 saves, 2.0 WAR; Hector Rondon had 30 saves last year, 2.2 WAR), Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Remlinger, Antonio Alfonseca and Mark Guthrie.

* FYI, Cubs payroll rank in 2003: 11th. Cubs payroll rank in 2015: 13th.

* Dusty cannot be trustied.

* "At the end of the day, boys, don't tell me how rough the water is, you bring in the ship."

* Don't forget: Dusty Baker is the reason why Steve Stone is now in the White Sox booth and not the Cubs booth where he belongs. (And Crane Kenney is probably the reason why Bob Brenly is in the Diamondbacks booth and not the Cubs booth, where he belongs.)

* Dusty Baker is also a racist clown.

41:33: Rogers!

* Reminder: Baker sat at home for two years despite trying to inject himself into various managerial openings because no one was interested in being the fourth team to fire him.

* Coach goes off on ESPN fanboy.

43:57: Oh Yeah, The White Sox.

* White Sox Designate John Danks, Recall Erik Johnson.

* White Sox Recall Scott Carroll To Replace Erik Johnson.

* Cubs should loan White Sox a starter every fifth day.

* Ding Dong Danks.

* Bernstein: White Sox Should Find A Lefty Bat.

51:33: Lucky Lester.

* Not funny.

54:13: Pirates Disclaimer.

57:27: Hoyer, Yes; Tight Ends, No.

58:01: Joe Paterno Was An Even Worse Human Being Than We Thought.

1:00:56: TrackNotes: This Year's Derby A Value Proposition.

1:03:20: Everton vs. Lestah!

* The Cubs of England.

* 5 Things You Need To Know About Leicester.

* Leicester vs. Lester:

Leicester: Wins first.

Lester: Can't throw to first.

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STOPPAGE: 4:58

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:33 PM | Permalink

So Sue Them: What We've Learned About The Debt Collection Lawsuit Machine

Millions of Americans live with the possibility that, at any moment, their wages or the cash in their bank accounts could be seized over an old debt. It's an easily ignored part of America's financial system, in part due to a common attitude that people who don't pay their debts deserve what's coming to them.

A couple of years ago, we set out to find out more about the growing use of the courts to collect consumer debts. How many lawsuits are filed? Who is filing them? Who is getting sued?

The suits are filed in state and local courts, and many states rely on antiquated systems or only keep data at the county level. We ultimately collected what details we could from a variety of states and large, urban counties. Then, we wrote a series of stories sharing what we found:

But there's a lot more to understand about the rise of this legal tactic - one that continues to alarm judges who see it firsthand.

"It seems to me that over the years I've become less of an authentic arbiter of disputes and more a processor of paperwork," said Steven McMurry, a justice of the peace in Phoenix, Arizona, who has been presiding over such cases since 1998. "The thing that gets me so upset, I see all these cases and I question whether there might be some valid defense."

Here are other important lessons we've learned:

Debt Buyers Are Primarily Responsible For The Rise In Lawsuits

So, what's changed to trigger these suits? The most important difference since the late '90s is relatively simple: the emergence of debt buying.

Take New Jersey for example. In 1996, there were around 500 court judgments in New Jersey from suits filed by debt buyers. By 2008, that number had reached 140,000.

It's dipped since then, but the change over time is obvious. Debt buyers dominate the docket in New Jersey's lower level civil court: In 2011, they accounted for 48 percent of the court judgments. And from 2001 through 2011, they obtained more than 1 million court judgments in New Jersey alone.

For the most part, debt buyers purchase defaulted credit card accounts, typically for a few pennies on the dollar. Starting in the late '90s, the industry began a period of rapid growth and then exploded in the middle of the last decade. That led to a sharp spike in suits, many of them by smaller debt buying companies that have since gone out of business.

The industry is now dominated by several large companies. The largest, Encore Capital Group, typically sues through its subsidiary, Midland Funding, LLC. In 2015, Encore collected $1.2 billion nationally from consumers, more than half of that through the courts, according to its most recent annual filing.

Data from courts all over the country show the same growth of debt buyers' role in the courts, and in most courts, we found that debt buyers filed more suits than any other type of plaintiff.

Plaintiffs Are Represented By Attorneys, Defendants Largely Are Not

In 2011, Pressler & Pressler, the biggest collections law firm in New Jersey, obtained at least 76,000 judgments for its clients, primarily the debt buyers Encore Capital and New Century Financial Services. In about 69,000 of those suits, the firm used the same attorney: Ralph Gulko.

How does one person file more than 69,000 lawsuits in a year? According to a deposition Gulko gave as part of a lawsuit against his firm, he'd sit at a desk with two computer screens. On one screen would be a lawsuit, already prepared by the firm's support staff and ready to be filed, and on the other, a summary of basic information about the case. If Gulko saw no problems, he'd electronically sign it and a Pressler employee would electronically file it.

The firm's records showed that it took Gulko as little as four seconds to review a suit, and he did between 300 and 400 - sometimes as many as 1,000 - per day.

Last month, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered Pressler to pay a $1 million penalty for having filed lawsuits based on unreliable information. Pressler consented to the action, which required the firm to institute a more robust review process, but said in a statement that its process had always been sufficient to prevent filing errors.

But if there are any mistakes, it's up to the debtors to spot them - without the aid of an attorney. In about 99 percent of Pressler's 2011 suits, defendants didn't have attorneys, according to our analysis. This is typical of collection suits. In 2013 in New Jersey's lower level court, for example, more than 97 percent of defendants in debt collection cases lacked attorneys.

In Missouri that same year, about 91 percent of debtors faced suits without an attorney. Those who did have lawyers, we found, typically came from richer, whiter neighborhoods.

Looking at suits from 2008 through 2012 in the St. Louis area, residents of lower-income, mostly black neighborhoods had attorneys in 4 percent of cases, while residents of upper-income, mostly white neighborhoods had them in 14 percent of cases.

Not surprisingly, suits against residents of the lower-income, black neighborhoods were much more likely to result in judgments (69 percent) than suits against residents of upper-income, white neighborhoods (53 percent).

It Matters A Lot Where You Live

Last Thursday, our story on Nebraska's high volume of suits showed that key factors, such as the cost of filing a suit, can cause a huge difference in the number of collection suits filed from state to state. These differences between court systems haven't received much attention, but they should. They result in vast disparities for poor debtors across the country.

Consider a comparison of garnishments - money seized from debtors' paychecks or bank accounts - in Missouri and Nebraska. Keep in mind that Nebraska has a population less than a third as large as Missouri's. During this time period, $56 was garnished for every resident of Missouri. In Nebraska, it was $103. The difference is due to the more active role of collection agencies in Nebraska, which garnished $130 million over these years.

Nebraska's higher number of suits can't be explained by obvious differences such as a larger proportion of low-income families or more delinquencies. And, as Annie Waldman and I reported last year, a disproportionately high number of debt collection lawsuits are filed against black people, but only about 5 percent of Nebraska's population is black.

So it's clear that where debtors live matters at least as much as what race they are. Our study last year compared black and white neighborhoods in three different cities, and we found that in the same city, the mostly black neighborhoods had twice as many court judgments as the mostly white neighborhoods, even when accounting for income.

But compare across cities and the picture looks different. Consider, for instance, a comparison of judgments in middle income neighborhoods in Newark and Chicago, broken down by the racial makeup of the neighborhood where the defendant lived: It's more than three times as expensive to file a lawsuit in Cook County, where Chicago is located, than it is in Essex County, New Jersey. Consequently, a lot more debtors are sued in New Jersey.

We found a higher rate of court judgments in the mostly white neighborhoods around Newark than we did in the mostly black neighborhoods of Chicago at the same income level.

In Some States, High-Cost Lenders File The Most Lawsuits

Which types of companies file collection suits is also a reflection of state laws. In New Mexico, where there is no interest rate cap on installment loans, a large portion of suits are filed by just a two high-cost lenders: Your Credit and Noble Finance, both owned by the same man, Anthony Gentry. We wrote about Gentry in 2013 because his companies also file thousands of suits in Oklahoma and Missouri. The loans routinely come with annual interest rates above 100 percent.

"The loan information is fully disclosed to the borrower, they leave the branch office with money in hand and knowing their payment expectations," he told us. "Yet when they don't pay us back, you paint us as the bad guys."

In Las Vegas, high-cost lenders also dominate the lower level court: From 2004 through 2014, they filed a total of 150,000 lawsuits there.

Some Plaintiffs Just Keep Suing, Even When The Economy Improves

The finances of some debtors don't improve along with the economy, making them targets of collectors in good times and bad. You might expect collection lawsuits to go up when the economy tanks and go down as it improves. That's generally what happened with big banks and credit card debt. But not so for debt buyers, high-cost lenders or those suing over medical debts.

For example, the collection agencies in Indiana primarily bring suits over medical debts. And those suits are predominantly filed by hospitals.

The consistency of these suits suggests that they target a population that has trouble recovering from debts even after the economy has improved.

Collectors Frequently Clean Out Debtors' Bank Accounts

One of the most aggressive measures a debt collector can take is to seize cash from a debtor's bank account. Data from Missouri allowed us to examine how often companies, armed with court judgments, took this step - and how little was left for them to take.

It wasn't for lack of trying. Plaintiffs in Missouri tried to garnish debtors' bank accounts at least 59,000 times in 2012. Most of the time, they got nothing. That might've been because the account was empty, or because collectors had the wrong account information. Still, they were successful 13,000 times.

About 60 percent of the time, there was less money in the account than the debtor owed. When that happens, the plaintiff can take every penny in the account.

Collectors typically got around $500 per garnishment, we found. But for those that zeroed out an account, the median was $350.

Still, it added up. From 2009 through 2013, plaintiffs in Missouri took at least $48 million from debtors' bank accounts - about 14 percent of the $339 million garnished during those years, mostly through debtors' wages.

The Threat Of Garnishment Persists For Many Years

Finally, and perhaps most toxically for debtors, court judgements from collection suits can be near-permanent. In Missouri, a judgement is valid for 10 years and can be renewed for another 10. The plaintiff can seek to garnish a debtor's wages at any time.

Consider the long tail of garnishments in three Missouri counties. In 2013, plaintiffs garnished a total of $17 million, but only about 14 percent of that was from cases actually filed in 2013. A quarter came from suits filed in 2008 or earlier.

So What Can Be Done?

No one is counting, and someone should. On the state level, policymakers are flying blind. They have no way of comparing the number and types of suits in their state to others. On the national level, major companies that fill the nation's courts with lawsuits don't get the scrutiny they otherwise might.

We listed a number of potential reforms last year, and those are definitely still applicable here. Most centrally, the last federal law to limit garnishments was passed in 1968. It was inadequate to start with and is now clearly out-of-date, consumer advocates say. Overhauling that law to set a more reasonable limit on wage seizures (now at 25 percent of after-tax income) and setting some limit (there's currently none) on bank account garnishments would make a big difference.

In December, Missouri's attorney general suggested a number of reforms to make the process fairer to debtors. The collection industry supported the measures, suggesting that some common sense changes can be easy to agree on.

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Previously:

* What Can Be Done Right Now To Fix The (Racist) Legal System For Debt Collection.

* Capital One Is No. 1 In Suing Its Cardholders.

* Why Small Debts Matter So Much To Black Lives.

* The Color Of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods.

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

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY

Stick it where it fits.

graffwalltrainetcbw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: This Year's Derby A Value Proposition

"If the Super Bowl is the ultimate game, how come there is another one next year?" - Duane Thomas, 1972

So here we are, wiseguys, civilians, hot chicks donning architectural and pretty hats. Party people do it all over, I know. And it certainly beats by a long way Tom Brady jerseys on the naugahyde sectional.

A few famous beauties who surprise you (I've learned don't be surprised by the ladies vis a vis the horses) and back up their picks with élan. Good whiskey, great jockeys and the best three-year-old Thoroughbred race horses America has to offer.
Even Lani, shipping in from his home in Japan. Remember, he was bred in Old Kentucky, but he's not a crumb over here: son of Tapit, grandson of Sunday Silence.

Just days ago, I was ambivalent, drifting. Really. Just another installment, number 142, of the Run for the Roses, the ultimate race, the Kentucky Derby. What does it all mean? What is is really worth, doc?

I'd already had feelings for Mohaymen, thrilling in the Fountain of Youth but then regressing in the Florida Derby in what was to be an epic showdown with Derby favorite Nyquist, Nyquist winning big but doing it for the money, I'm such a . . . Mohaymen's fourth that day ultimately had nothing to do with Nyquist.

I really dug Danzing Candy, dazzling, wiring the San Felipe over Saturday foes Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. With the big try, a slip and slide to a 13-length fourth in the Santa Anita Derby slop. Stay with me, please.

Then, serial maiden Creator, powered home in the Arkansas Derby over a horse, Cupid, that I had at least half an eye on, with a name like that. Cupid dropped off the Derby trail with a respiratory obstruction. Watch out in the Preakness. Do you see how we think?

Mor Spirit, Dick Sargent to American Pharoah's Dick York in the Baffert barn, nose-twitched into the new year in the December Los Alamitos Futurity and the February Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Then he was not so great in the San Felipe and SA Derby. Baffert have sumthin' up his sleeve even with no basis of sayin' that? Looks like he had better.

Undefeated (named after Detroit Red Wing Gustav) Nyquist owned by Windsor, Ontario native J. Paul Reddam, we'll talk about later. Is that a Canadian hockey crime?

I should know better with these threes, but I just couldn't find one to strap my bedroll to this spring. I guarantee you I felt flat, no energy, on this race and wondered just how good these horses are, or aren't. Not a good feeling. I needed some spice.

Then, Wednesday, I watched the Derby post position draw from the crowded Alcibiades Room of Churchill Downs and was hooked all over again like a Babe Winkelman muskellunge. In direct contrast to Billy Bass, I learned, this horse racing and this race Saturday really don't get old. The chills up my spine with the video lead-in of 'Pharoah crossing the Belmont wire was a real goose. So is that it? I guess so.

I swear none of this is a hangover from American Pharoah. Fans should know that and horseplayers certainly do. 'Pharoah's not here and did not accomplish everything on the first Saturday in May, 2015. That was only the beginning.

Alas, on the draw show, Laffit Pincay III's first question was "Are any of these capable of the Triple Crown?" Oh, brother. Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey Teflon'd the question in the nicest way. They continued the theme on Thursday's preview show; Moss suggesting as much as a possibility for a Triple Crown this year. Shame, don't pander to the ratings civilians!

Horseplayers look at the Derby as a wagering opportunity. Usually just that. We do like success by a single horse, we really do.

The Kentucky Derby winner usually sculpts a wondrous trip, by necessity, and that's the beauty of this race, the unfairness that it is.

But the whole season matters. 'Pharoah put it all together. And the Derby is the best start for any horse. But win four or five of the biggest races all year and . . .

So, whodoyalike?

Number one, watch the prices and get value. Bet who you like, because there are no tough favorites. I believe there will a lot of value. Nyquist's 3-1 is an indicator of that.

I'm big on Outwork, but please don't tell anyone. He's 15-1 on the morning line from the 15-hole and I like that just fine. I would be greedy at any higher and, well, don't go below that!

As with most all of the prep races, they started fast and crawled home in the Wood Memorial but between his win there and a good second in the Tampa Bay Derby, he's all the heart you want and will go eye-to-eye with any. From 15, he'll need to show more tactic, with seasoned veteran Johnny Velasquez aboard. Like Humphrey Bogart, I see him rolling the balls and finding his spot.

My only problem with Outwork is trainer Todd Pletcher. He's fantastic on the come with the two-year-olds, but win the big with the threes? Not so much. Go Johnny!

Nyquist? At 3-1, he's really a coolish favorite. From 13, he'll have nobody-in-particular Tom's Ready to his left and Mohaymen to his right. What will Junior Alvarado do with Mohaymen? He'll send at least a little, but so will Mario Gutierrez with Nyquist.

Nyquist won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after falling six and eight lengths behind, but generally he's been on the lead in his seven (no losses) wins.

The murmur about him is the distance. He went nine furlongs in winning the Florida Derby, but against who? He's out of Uncle Mo, who scratched from his Derby. 'Mo is out of Indian Charlie, nice horse, but not a distance paragon. On that basis . . . not me.

You'll hear a lot about Exaggerator. His only success of any kind has been in slop or mud. Not this weekend. Hope he takes a lot of money.

I like Mohaymen. BUT. He'll have to run to his visually impressive Fountain of Youth and improve on the 95 Beyer Speed Figure plateau. He's had great workouts, they say he's on the muscle, I like his professionalism, he's 10-1 morning line. Pray for 10-1 and go. I will.

I LOVE Danzing Candy. Except for the slop in the Santa Anita Derby, he's been truly dominant. He beat Mor Spirit and Exaggerator handily in the San Felipe. The 20-hole will be really tough - how much energy to get to the leaders as he likes? I'll trust Mike Smith, but this guy will have to show a new dimension. Danzing will be a riddle. But I think he's got the guts.

Creator is a curiosity, we think. He's always in the money and on the Beyer upswing in a very good way. 10-1, probably higher. I'm game. But did he capitalize in Arkansas off a poor performance from Cupid? Tell that to everyone you know and be quiet about what you do. Do you hear me?

The dance team, in no particular order: Outwork, Creator, Mohaymen, Mor Spirit, Danzing Candy.

Take a $2 flyer please: Lani, Destin, Whitmore.

By The Color Of Their Coat
There will be four grays in the race. The girls I know seem to really dig the grays. Creator (3 with a red mane!), Lani (8), Destin (9) and Mohaymen (14).

Cool, and if you keep watching them run, they get grayer and then white.

Sing A Sad Song
There's bad news and only slightly better news.

Songbird, the best horse in the land, is out of the Kentucky Oaks.

She spiked a fever a few weeks back and with the antibiotic regimen she needed, it interrupted her training enough to knock her off the dais. You know, they probably could have run her. But hooray for doing the right thing.

Now, the Friday Oaks becomes a very interesting race. Your molls will be Cathryn Sophia (distance?) and 7-2 ML favorite Rachel's Valentina, daughter of Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d'Oro) and Bernardini (A.P. Indy). And if you don't know how much I love all of those horses, you haven't been here before.

Go ahead and ogle those, as we all will. But watch out for Go Maggie Go, Lewis Bay, Land Over Sea, Mo d'Amour, and Weep No More. Told ya, wide open. We'll see Songbird at her next concert, but this is a highly bettable race.

On The Tee And Vee
It's just to my likin'. Marathon-ish.

On Friday, NBC Sports Network goes all Oaks from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nice. Post for the Oaks is 4:49 central, so you might want to add that 15- or 30-minute extension.

On Saturday, NBC Sports Network will start at 11 a.m. and go until 3 p.m. Then, the big NBC 5 takes over at 3 through the Derby and aftermath at 6:15 p.m. Hope that the hockey game does not go over after 3, but if it does, toggle with NBC Sports Network.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:44 AM | Permalink

May 5, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

"Even as the Chicago Teachers Union reduced the threat of a strike, the group unveiled a long list of potential taxes that it said would raise $500 million for the cash-strapped public schools, Crain's Greg Hinz reports.

"Let's just say that anyone who buys gasoline, owns commercial property, rides on Uber or Lyft, stays in a hotel or operates a business that employs people will not be happy," Hinz says.

That's a weird formulation. Plenty of people who buy gas, own commercial property, use Uber and/or Lyft, and operate businesses that employ people also have kids in Chicago schools. There's no reason to assume they don't want to see those schools properly funded.

(As far as people who stay in hotels, they aren't likely to notice or care if they have to pony up a few extra bucks they can put on their expense account or tack onto their vacation budget.)

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Even some people who fit into these categories and don't have kids would not be unhappy to see these taxes go through. Some folks actually care about the city and its kids, not just themselves.

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Hinz:

"Heading the list is $94 million a year from reinstating - at a quadrupled rate - the city's former head tax, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel finally finished repealing. CTU did not give a monthly number per employee, and failed to immediately return phone calls seeking details. Emanuel said at the time that tax was driving employers out of town."

Name one.

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The head tax was always a weird thing, and businesses hated it, of course, but despite many promises, Richard M. Daley refused to do away with it. The money has to come from somewhere.

"[T]he mayor also noted he will have to find ways to make up for lost revenue," the Tribune reported in 2011. How do you think he did it?

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"There's no doubt that it's been a regressive tax," the then-CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce said at the time.

Oh, so the chamber is on board with progressive taxation! Are they willing to go to Springfield with the CTU to fight for that statewide?

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"Want to crush Illinois' small businesses? Pass a progressive tax," says the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative advocacy group that sometimes masquerades as a news service.

So we can't tax business regressively or progressively. I get it: We're not allowed to tax business at all. See how fast companies leave the city and state when we see the budget results of that. Look at how our governor is doing for a preview.

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German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals
Or as the German Left Party says, "I doubt that the dividend deals are legal. In no case are they decent. Investment banking is the playground for tax thieves, is not systemically relevant to the financial system and therefore should be liquidated."

Why The Stakes Are So High For The Black Panther
"Unfortunately, when it comes to underrepresented populations, the success or failure of these texts always ends up being about more than the specific text in itself; it becomes a referendum on whether stories about people who are not straight white men are valuable, and whether people who tell such stories should be given the resources to do so."

A Fan's Ashes
Plus: A Polka Pow-Wow & The CTA Bus Driver Bringing The Blues. In Local Music Notebook.

Fantasy Fix: Home Run Help
This week we shop for sluggers.

At The Adler: Women In Space
This year's honoree was told by a teacher when she was a student that girls didn't have to listen in science class.

24 Hours With Jewelry Television
Featuring chrome diopside, people.

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BeachBook

Leaked TTIP Docs Cast Doubt On Trade Deal.

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Why Google's 'Time Spent' Metric Is Bullshit.

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Ted Cruz So Unpopular He Could Not Be Saved By Data Propaganda.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Run, don't walk.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 PM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: A Fan's Ashes

"Metal bands Behemoth and Dying Fetus both granted a late fan's dying wish by scattering his ashes during their recent live shows," NME notes.

"Loudwire reports that Behemoth frontman Adam Nergal Darski paid tribute to a deceased fan named Nick at the band's gig in Chicago on April 29.


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Polka Pow-Wow
"Polish Heritage Awareness Society is resurrecting a Polka Pow-Wow to continue bringing more awareness to Portage County's Polish roots in the hopes that younger generations will continue traditions," the Portage County Gazette reports.

"The Polka Pow-Wow is a two-day event that will celebrate 159 years of Polish Heritage in Portage County. It will run from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at the Moose Family Center, 1052 Second St. N., and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 8, at the Blue Top Banquet Hall in Rookies Sports Bar, 3425 Church St., Stevens Point . . .

"Two bands hailing from Chicago - Keith Stras & Polka Confetti and IPA Tribute Band - will provide music for continuous dancing on Saturday."

Here's Keith Stras & Polka Confetti:

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And the IPA Tribute Band:

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Chicago release news . . .
* Riotous Indignation Previews New Single Ahead Of June EP Release.

The single appears to be an exclusive (so far) to Metal Underground, so you'll have to click through to hear it.

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Blues notes . . .
* Chicago Bus Driver To Bring Blues To Zoo Bar.

Here's a recent Chicago Tonight feature on said bus driver, Toronzo Cannon.

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* Chicago's Smoking Aces To Visit Old Stomping Grounds.

Here's the Aces playing the Legacy two years ago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:06 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With Jewelry Television

"Since 1993 our mission at Jewelry Television® has been to open the world of fine jewelry and gemstones to everyone.

"As the largest retailer of loose gemstones and one of the top four electronic jewelry retailers in the United States, we are confident we have the fine jewelry and gemstones you're searching for!"

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9 a.m.: Color & Karat Jewelry Show

11 a.m.: Aztec Style Jewelry Show

1 p.m.: Elegance Jewelry Show

3 p.m.: Gold Showcase Jewelry Show

5 p.m.: Tehya Oyama Jewelry Show

7 p.m.: Moda al Massimo Jewelry Show

9 p.m.: Gemstones: The Original Collectible feat. Chrome Diopside

11 p.m.: Tehya Oyama Jewelry Show

1 a.m.: Silver Showcase Jewelry Show

3 a.m.: Color Crush Jewelry Show

5 a.m.: Uniquely Silver Jewelry Show

7 a.m.: The Morning Mix Jewelry Show

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Previously:
* 24 Hours With QVC
* 24 Hours With Tru TV
* 24 Hours With Current TV
* 24 Hours With The Military Channel
* 24 Hours With The Hallmark Channel
* 24 Hours With TVGN
* 24 Hours With Retroplex
* 24 Hours With Penthouse TV
* 24 Hours With The DIY Network
* 24 Hours With BET
* 24 Hours With CNBC
* 24 Hours With WWMEB
* 24 Hours With PRISM TV
* 24 Hours With Al Jazeera America.
* 24 Hours With Fuse.
* 24 Hours With Pop TV.
* 24 Hours With BET Soul.
* 24 Hours With BabyTV.
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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

At The Adler | Women In Space

The annual Women in Space Science Award recognizes women who have made significant contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math with the goal of inspiring young women to pursue careers in these disciplines.

The celebration features a luncheon reception for event attendees and a keynote presentation given by this year's honoree.

The highlight of the event is an afternoon program immediately following the luncheon. Approximately 250 young women from Chicago-area public schools will participate in an afternoon program of engaging STEM workshops.

The 2016 award luncheon will be held at the Drake Hotel on Thursday, May 12, at 11:30 a.m.

The Women in Space Science Award Celebration raises funds to support the Adler's STEM education program including Girls Do Hack and Girls' Technology Camp.


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The Adler is pleased to present the 2016 Women In Space Science award to Professor Wendy L. Freedman.

Freedman is a Canadian-American astronomer best known for her measurement of the Hubble Constant.

Her principle research interests are in observational cosmology, measuring the current and past expansion rates of the universe, and on characterizing dark energy - the mysterious force that causes the universe to accelerate its expansion.

Freedman is the John & Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago.

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Freedman: This New Telescope May Show Us The Beginning Of The Universe.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:26 AM | Permalink

Why The Stakes Are So High For The Black Panther

The stakes are high for Marvel and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates to do Black Panther well. The character appears this month in the blockbuster Captain America: Civil War, a prelude to the film he'll headline in 2018. And last month, Coates released the first issue of a new Black Panther comic series.

blackpanther.jpg

When it was first reported last September that Coates would script a 12-issue arc of the Black Panther, some commentators suggested that he might be an "odd" fit.

coates.jpg

The implication was that a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and winner of the National Book Award was participating in a genre and medium beneath his talents.

But they might be surprised to learn discussions of racism in superhero comics is a long - albeit often troubled - tradition.

They also might not recognize the extent of Coates' literary undertaking. He is tasked not only with appealing to comics readers but also with attracting new fans to the genre.

This would be a daunting prospect, no matter the property. But the Black Panther character poses a very specific set of challenges.

Beyond Tarzan

When T'Challa (the Black Panther) first appeared in The Fantastic Four comic book in 1966, it was at the tail end of what Bayard Rustin termed the "classical" phase of the civil rights movement: the era between Brown v. Board of Education and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. T'Challa marked the first of a number of attempts to produce more progressive, less racist representations of black people in comics.

While many of these early characters, like Luke Cage, still often trafficked in stereotype, the Black Panther was arguably more successful in highlighting the prejudices the West holds about Africans and African nations.

blackpanther2.png

T'Challa is king of the fictional African nation Wakanda, a wealthy and technologically advanced country. While not devoid of problematic representations of Africans, the comic criticized a Western, white gaze that can't imagine that a technologically advanced African nation could exist.

Initially, Black Panther still had some of the conventions of the "jungle comic," but a black protagonist was a major step away from white heroes like Tarzan and Sheena who were worshipped by the ignorant "natives."

Don McGregor is arguably Black Panther's most celebrated writer for challenging the conventions of not only racial representations in comics but the comic book storytelling format itself.

The "Panther's Rage" story was told over the course of several issues, which is now a common convention in comics. He is renowned for featuring an all-black cast in a mainstream comic and not seeing white characters as necessary to sell the story. McGregor wanted to push back against the racist conventions of jungle comics.

Decades later, Black Panther writers Christopher Priest and Reginald Hudlin (of Centreville, Illinois) continue to plumb this theme.

Many Westerners still see Africa as a country, not a continent; they fail to note differences between nations, or acknowledge how post-colonial conflicts in many African countries are as much a part of "modernity" as any developments in the West.

The fact that, 50 years later, African-American writers would still be responding to the same stereotypes (albeit with much more barbed sophistication than in Stan Lee's 1960s scripts) shows the persistence of these representations.

Beyond Stereotype

One consequence of the long history of stereotypical representations of minorities and disadvantaged populations is that the line between stereotype and images that attempt to depict the struggles of these groups can be blurry.

In the case of Africa, depictions of violence, war, corruption and poverty run the risk of being interpreted as representative of all Africans.

Superhero comics depend on conflict and need villains, thus any representation that draws on real life may run the risk of producing simplified depictions of African conflicts. While Black Panther's most important villain is a character named Klaw, an archetypal white colonizer figure who wants to steal Wakanda's natural resources, T'Challa faces many African foes as well. Villains like "Man-Ape" - a character who ate the flesh of an ape for his power and wants to return Wakanda to a primitive culture - are important in Black Panther's history. While the character has been updated in recent years, he can still easily be read as a stereotype.

Not depicting some exaggerated variation of real-world conflicts can be equally problematic. While initially grounded in many urban struggles and the war in the 1930s and 1940s, superheroes increasingly fought supernatural villains after World War II. These fantastic battles can make comics seem like they're ignoring important real issues. Black artists (and readers) might find that particularly vexing. While Black Panther's creator and McGregor were not black, many people call Black Panther a black comic that speaks to issues important to the black community.

Scholars and artists have long debated what makes black art "black," but many still believe what W.E.B. Du Bois argued in his 1926 essay "Criteria of Negro Art" - that black art should be "propaganda" in the sense that it promotes positive representations of black people. Du Bois was concerned both with "real" black experience and that that black art should contest negative representations of blackness. Reams of writing over the years have contested this prescriptiveness, but many people still expect to see representations of blackness that they identify with and that contradict stereotypes.

Beyond Comics

Coates is clearly interested in continuing the project of contesting stereotypes - racial, national and gender. He enters the series as a writer after the unprecedented run of a female Black Panther, and women play a major role in his first issue. The first issue does not provide much of a road map to where he is going, but history illustrates the challenges he faces in writing for this storied character.

Due to the pedigree he's earned as an Atlantic Monthly columnist and with the award-winning Between the World and Me, he's opening up comics to readers who are not comics fans, but who will expect him to be attentive to the criteria for black art.

However, writing a comic book requires a specific skill set. Writers have a limited amount of words; much of it is dialogue. They must negotiate the relationship between compelling single issues and longer narrative arcs. And in the case of a major character like Black Panther, they must be attentive to decades of complicated backstory while crafting a narrative that is both respectful and original.

Failure to produce a comic that's intellectually engaging and entertaining would disappoint avid comic readers. For fans of Coates picking up a comic for the first time, it would be an indictment of the genre.

Meanwhile, for the film version, it will be the first time a black character will headline a film in the Marvel Universe.

panther3.jpg Chadwick Boseman plays Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War/Marvel Studios

A white superhero film failing has not caused studios to shy away from superhero films with white protagonists. The failure of a superhero film starring a woman or person of color, however, can set back the development of diverse superhero films for some time.

Many people would probably rejoice in anything that stops the superhero franchise juggernaut. But the last few years have brought increased attention to the real struggles for women and people of color to break into the comics and film industries.

Unfortunately, when it comes to underrepresented populations, the success or failure of these texts always ends up being about more than the specific text in itself; it becomes a referendum on whether stories about people who are not straight white men are valuable, and whether people who tell such stories should be given the resources to do so.

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Rebecca Wanzo is an associate professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St Louis. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Previously in Ta-Nehisi Coates:
* It Was No Compliment To Call Bill Clinton The First 'Black President.'

* Item | Local Book Notes: Rahm's Struggles In The Global City, A New Deal For Bronzeville & The Unequal City:

In another article, "The Case for Reparations," author Ta-Nehisi Coates describes how "Chicago's long history of racial segregation was created by two housing markets - one legitimate and backed by the government, the other lawless and patrolled by predators."

He explains how the gap in wealth, achievement, and in a wide range of health and well-being outcomes between black and white Americans is the result of governmental policy decisions.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals

Germany's top finance official criticized controversial stock loans that allow U.S. and other foreign investors to avoid paying about $1 billion a year in dividend taxes in Germany.

"I think we made very clear that we were not happy about these activities," Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Wednesday.

He strongly suggested that banks discontinue the practice: "I am sure that all responsible banks and their boards will deal with this topic."

Schäuble's statement came a day after publication of a joint investigation by ProPublica, the Washington Post and the German news outlets ARD and Handelsblatt about the trades, which are arranged by U.S. and other banks using stocks borrowed from investment managers like Vanguard and BlackRock.

One major German player in the transactions - Commerzbank, Germany's second largest bank - has since said it will discontinue such deals even before a proposed law to end them can be adopted.

But the larger question of whether Germany will get back the billions it lost remains unanswered. Schäuble said Germany cannot claw back taxes that were avoided in legal securities lending. Though Schäuble called the trades "not legitimate," experts differ on whether they are forbidden under current law.

Revelation of the bank's participation in div-arb put Schäuble in an awkward spot. The government owns 15 percent of Commerzbank and has two seats on its board thanks to a 2008 bailout. And while taxpayers lose on the stock deals, they make money for Commerzbank's shareholders.

The controversy centers around a trading strategy called "dividend arbitrage," or "div-arb," in which large foreign investors lend out their holdings of German stocks so they are not on their books at dividend time.

The borrower is a German fund or bank that doesn't have to pay the 15 percent dividend tax that applies to foreign investors. After dividend time, the shares get returned. The tax savings are then split among the investors, banks and other players.

Confidential documents obtained by ProPublica identified Commerzbank as a key "end-user," where borrowed shares can be parked temporarily to avoid withholding taxes. They also named a who's who of global banks that enable the transactions and major investment managers that lend out German stocks.

Commerzbank's share price price dropped nearly 10 percent since news of its involvement and a weak earnings report, and German politicians said they were shocked to learn that the bank helped investors avoid taxes.

One member of parliament called Commerzbank "morally bankrupt." Thomas Schäfer, finance minister for Hessen - home to Frankfurt, Germany's financial capital - called div-arb "pure tax trickery on the back of society" and warned that banks who engage in the practice face "loss of credibility and image" that can outweigh any profits gained from such transactions.

Schäuble is the highest-ranking German official to criticize the transactions. His agency has proposed legislation to stop the trades by making them too risky. A parliamentary hearing is set for next week.

At a news conference Wednesday, Schäuble sought to explain why, under current German law, the government may not be able to recover the tax revenue it has lost from the transactions.

"One paragraph in the general tax code says that if you use some tax instruments to avoid tax paying and if there is no economic purpose, then there could be a misuse," Schäuble said. "Excessive use of these instruments is not legitimate."

But Schäuble added: "As long as these instruments, according to the highest courts, are and were not illegal until today, I cannot reclaim tax money."

Following is some of the other reaction inside Germany:

1. Norbert Walter-Borjans, Nordrhein-Westfalen State's finance minister (NRW is Germany's most populous state) who belongs to the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany.

"I see no other reason for it (div-arb) other than tax law abuse," Walter-Borjans told Handelsblatt.

2. Carsten Schneider, the deputy chairman of the SPD parliamentary group responsible for budget, finance and Euro policy.

"Schäuble must now quickly clarify, why the finance ministry and the financial market stabilization agency have not monitored this," Schneider told Handelsblatt.

3. Ralph Brinkhaus, the deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group for budget and finance.

"We will very precisely look into the role of Commerzbank and the other German banks," Brinkhaus told Reuters. He considers the transactions not to be legitimate, because they only serve tax minimization.

4. Gerhard Schick, the finance policy spokesman of Germany's Green Party.

"In Parliament, we will find out how long the federal finance ministry has known of Commerzbank's trades and why Commmerzbank was not hindered from doing them. If necessary, we will ask these questions in an investigation committee."

5. Schick's full statement in German.

6. Bernd Riexinger, chairman of Germany's Left Party.

"I doubt that the dividend deals are legal. In no case are they decent. Investment banking is the playground for tax thieves, is not systemically relevant to the financial system and therefore should be liquidated," he said in a statement.

7. Anton Hofreiter, chairman of the Green Party parliamentary group.

"Assisting in tax avoidance, the committees [overseeing ex-Commerzbank CEO] Martin Blessing have conned citizens out of billions. In this way, they harm those who, with so much money, saved Commerzbank from bankruptcy. The management of Commerzbank, in light of this behavior, is morally bankrupt."

8. Hofreiter's full statement in German.

9. Klaus Nieding of DSW, the German Protective Association for Security Holdings, (representing Commerzbank shareholders).

Nieding called for the board of directors and managers of Commerzbank to provide a full explanation of its activities. "A blemish on Commerzbank's reputation must not remain," he told ARD's Munich affiliate, Bayerischer Rundfunk.

This article was written by Cezary Podkul, with reporting contributed by Arne Meyer-Fünffinger of Bayerischer Rundfunk in Berlin and staff of the Handelsblatt newspaper. Research and translation contributed by Jennifer Stahl.

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

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

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

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* Tax Day: Patriotic Millionaires Available For Comment.

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

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

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

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

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

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Like this story? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get more of our best work.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:45 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Home Run Help

Last week, I pitched a few ideas for waiver wire pick-ups to improve your starting rotation. This week, let's shop for sluggers.

HRs is one of the easiest stat categories to draft for - look at who had 35 or more dingers last year, and it's a pretty good bet those guys will be swatting more HRs this year. The list of HR leaders doesn't vary all that much from year to year. It comes as no surprise, for example, to see Nolan Arenado MLB with 11 HRs after he hit 42 last year. Same goes for Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper, who both have nine HRs after one month of play, and notched 41 and 42, respectively, in 2015. These guys are doing exactly what we thought they would do.

It's a little more of a surprise to see Trevor Story or Neil Walker at nine HRs. Both exploded out of the gate the first couple weeks of the season, and are pretty much unavailable now unless you want to trade for them.

Fortunately, if your squad is suffering from a power outage, you still have waiver-wire options:

Chris Carter, 1B, MIL: Available in 38% of Yahoo! leagues.

If I would have written this post a few days earlier, he would be much more widely available, but has had two two-HR games in his last four outings for a total of nine heading into Wednesday.

This is not necessarily shocking from a guy who hit 90 HRs from 2013 through 2015. But his tendency to otherwise hit around the Mendoza line left him widely undrafted this season.

What's changed is that he currently is hitting .287 and seems to have taken things to another level.

Byung-ho Park, 1B, MIN: Available in 56% of Yahoo! leagues.

I thought this first-year MLB player would be an HR factor at some point this season, but didn't expect it to happen this fast. He has seven HRs and, more importantly, has started nine games in a row, after the Twins initially were using him sporadically.

He's otherwise hitting .250, but thinking his HR pace may only improve as the weather heats up and he gets more comfortable with MLB pitching.

Colby Rasmus, OF, HOU: Available in 26% of Yahoo! leagues.

Has shown occasional streaky power during his career, and has started this season with seven of his first 20 hits making it over the fence.

He is hitting only .230 and currently in the middle of one of his homer-less stretches, but might be worth a bench spot in daily leagues to start when you see your team lagging the competition in HRs.

Khris Davis, OF, OAK: Available in 59% of Yahoo! leagues.

This one is a bit more of a reach. He hit 27 HRs for MIL last year, bit moved to less HR-friendly confines over the winter.

Still, after a slow start, he has four HRs in the last week, including a two-HR game, for a total of six, and could be ready to heat up.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

May 4, 2016

The [Wednesday] Papers

This isn't going to happen today. You can find some real-time commentary about the latest George Lucas museum developments at @BeachwoodReport.

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Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion A Year From German Taxpayers
"A cache of confidential documents obtained by ProPublica and analyzed in collaboration with the Washington Post, German broadcaster ARD and the Handelsblatt newspaper in Dusseldorf details how Wall Street puts together complex stock-lending deals that drain an estimated $1 billion a year from the German treasury.

"Similar deals extend beyond Germany, siphoning revenue from at least 20 other countries across four continents, according to the documents, which show how 'dividend-arbitrage' transactions - known in the trade as 'div-arb' - are structured and marketed as tax-avoidance vehicles.

"The trove of transaction logs, e-mails, marketing materials, chat messages and other communications among deal participants involves a who's who of the world's big banks and institutional investors."

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Five Things You Should Know About Leicester
With a special appearance by a former Beachwood bartender.

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Treetop Adventures On The Way!
"The course will be a seven-acre, two- to three-hour trek through the forest canopy using rope ladders, Tarzan swings, five zip lines, and more than 40 other challenging and fun obstacles situated more than 40 feet in the air."

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BeachBook

"On World Press Freedom Day, take a moment to remember all the members of the press who are not free, and have been imprisoned just for doing their job. As of December 1, 2015, 199 journalists were in jail worldwide, and 49 of those were imprisoned in China."

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#ObamaOut #TrumpNextPOTUS

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Always on point.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:16 PM | Permalink

Five Things You Need To Know About Leicester

It would be surprising if you had not been caught up in the fever surrounding Leicester City's fairy tale triumph in the English Premier League, defying odds of 5,000-1 to win the country's most prestigious football competition.

But beyond the fact that the city has scored a sporting success, what else do you know about Leicester? You may have read that historians found the grave of the deposed King Richard III under a Leicester car park in 2012. But you'd still just be scratching the surface. Here are five things you need to know about Leicester.

1. It's Pronounced "Lester"

One of the first things a visitor notices about Leicester is that it isn't obvious how to pronounce the name. "Leicester" is probably derived from an old word for the local river, although no one knows for sure. It is pronounced "Lester" (not "Lie-Chester" or anything similar), but if you want to fit in with the locals you should aim for a rising inflection on the second syllable to produce something on the lines of "Les-Tah".

Followers of local rock band Kasabian will have noticed the band sporting "Les-Tah" T-shirts, which are currently available at the tourist information office and are an example of how even a local dialect can be marketed.

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Another example, which often confuses visitors, is the local pronunciation of "Belvoir" (as in Belvoir Street or Belvoir Castle) as "Beaver."

Although this may seem strange, what is thought of as Standard English is actually an East Midlands dialect.

By the late 14th century, the agricultural wealth of the East Midlands meant local merchants traded with London and took the East Midlands dialect with them, acting as a useful bridge between northern and southern dialects and influencing the way Londoners spoke.

2. It's In The Middle Of England

Leicester sits in the middle of the county of Leicestershire, which is in the middle of England about 100 miles north of London.

leicestermap.jpg

Being in the middle, it has always had good transport links and is accessible by road (the M1 and M69 motorways), rail (an hour by train from London), air (East Midlands Airport), and canal (the Grand Union canal, if you have plenty of time).

Although the population of Leicester is around 330,000, it is too small to be a major city such as Manchester (population 2.5m) or Birmingham (population 1.1m) - yet too big to be a small town; it is somewhere in the middle.

3. It Has A Diverse Population

Leicester has one of the most diverse populations in the country. The 2011 census revealed that less than half of the population are "White British," while 28% of the population identify themselves as "Asian/British Asian: Indian."

The city's religious makeup shows a balance between Christians (32%), people with "no religion" (23%), Muslims (19%) and Hindus (15%).

The arrival of thousands of Ugandan Asian refugees in the early 1970s was the moment when the city council had to learn to adapt to the demands of a multicultural society, while more recent migration from Africa and the European Union has changed the face of the city again.

A recent survey recorded 22 countries of origin among 204 proprietors on Narborough Road, prompting claims that this is the UK's most diverse street.

4. Its Economy Has Changed In Recent Years

Leicester's economy has shown a remarkable change in the past 50 years. Throughout the 20th century, the city's industry was mainly based on clothing, footwear and associated engineering. It was once one of the most prosperous cities in Europe and the boast that "Leicester clothes the world" was an indication of its success. However, in the last quarter of the 20th century, the major industries fell victim to the effects of globalization, particularly those of cheap imports, and many nationally known names, such as Freeman, Hardy & Willis, are now just memories.

The city may be poorer than it used to be but it would be wrong to think that nothing is made in Leicester any more. Industries such as fashion, construction and food are still large employers, while the city's ambitions for high-tech businesses are exemplified by plans for a National Space Park around the National Space Centre.

5. Richard III Wasn't The Only Royal Visitor

Royal connections in the city go back a long way before recent developments in car parks.

By 1068, William the Conqueror had built a castle here and you can still see the mound on which it was built.

In 1483. Richard III stayed at the castle and returned again, famously, in 1485 when he spent his last night alive in the Blue Boar Inn before the Battle of Bosworth.

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When the victorious Henry Tudor returned to Leicester with Richard's dead body, the city was host to two kings in as many days. What no one could have guessed was that in 2012, over 500 years later, the body of Richard III would be discovered in a car park in the center of the city.

More recent royal visits have been less bloody, and in the heyday of Leicester's industry no royal visit was complete without a visit to a clothing factory.

In 2012 Leicester was chosen as the first stop on Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK (although no factories were visited this time, the Duchess of Cambridge was presented with a pair of shoes).

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Leicester's motto, "Semper Eadem," means "always the same," and for many years the city has had a safe, slightly dull reputation. As many people said during the recent excitement around the success of the football team, this sort of thing isn't supposed to happen in Leicester.

With the discovery of the body of Richard III and the creation of a winning football team local people are having to get used to the idea that perhaps things aren't always the same, that sometimes things can change dramatically for the better rather than for the worse.

This is a new feeling for the people of Leicester. Although we can't know what the long-term effect of the last few years will be, or whether there will be any meaningful effect at all, maybe Leicester will learn to expect the unexpected and ask: What next?

Colin Hyde is the East Midlands Oral History Archive Researcher and Outreach Officer at the University of Leicester. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

No. 6: Former Beachwood bartender Helen Harrison is from there! She reports: "Still sobbing - look at how happy my city is."

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:41 AM | Permalink

Treetop Adventure Course Coming To Forest Preserves

Cook County residents and visitors will have the chance to see the forest from new heights this summer, thanks to a new partnership between the Forest Preserves of Cook County and Go Ape, the nation's premier treetop adventure course company.

The course will be a seven-acre, two- to three-hour trek through the forest canopy using rope ladders, Tarzan swings, five zip lines, and more than 40 other challenging and fun obstacles situated more than 40 feet in the air. All Go Ape courses are designed to allow for a wide variety of skill levels.

The course is being built through a public-private partnership, with a 100% capital investment from Go Ape to build and operate the course. As part of the agreement, Go Ape will share a portion of all revenues derived from ticket sales with the Preserves, with no public dollars being spent on building, maintaining or operating the course.

The course at Bemis Woods (1100 Ogden Avenue, in Westchester) is the first course of its kind in Cook County open to the public, and Go Ape's 15th course in the United States. Construction begins this spring, with the opening date this summer to be announced.

Additionally, Go Ape Treetop Adventure courses support the local environment and communities in which they are based by taking part in clean-ups, invasive plant removal, and by donating free and discounted tickets to underserved and special needs groups. Last year, Go Ape donated more than $1.2 million in free and reduced-price tickets to charities, community groups and guests.

Go Ape Treetop courses offer a first-hand forest ecosystem experience, while also providing exercise, team building and personal confidence building skills. Participants gain access to forest canopies in a low-impact way, allowing them to experience and gain an appreciation for the forest's richly diverse ecosystem.

Following the Forest Preserves' three-year Centennial Celebration, which concluded in 2015, the organization has been looking ahead to the next century by developing new ways to engage residents of Cook County. The Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course is part of the Forest Preserves' commitment to enhancing available amenities and programming opportunities, and adding new recreation options. Other recent enhancements include opening five new and revitalized campgrounds, expanding trails, and launching bike rentals with more to come.

Currently, the Forest Preserves manages nearly 70,000 acres of public open land, and offers numerous amenities including nearly 300 picnic groves, three aquatic centers, model airplane flying fields and model boats areas, boat rentals and launches, snowmobile areas and groomed cross-country ski trails, as well as hundreds of low-cost or free educational programs.

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It goes a little bit like this:

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Or this:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:03 AM | Permalink

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

German companies are known for paying some of the heftiest dividends among world stocks, one reason U.S. investment giants such as BlackRock and Vanguard are among the biggest holders of German shares.

But Wall Street has figured out a way to squeeze some extra income from these stocks. And German taxpayers pay for it.

A cache of confidential documents obtained by ProPublica and analyzed in collaboration with the Washington Post, German broadcaster ARD and the Handelsblatt newspaper in Düsseldorf details how Wall Street puts together complex stock-lending deals that drain an estimated $1 billion a year from the German treasury.

Similar deals extend beyond Germany, siphoning revenue from at least 20 other countries across four continents, according to the documents, which show how "dividend-arbitrage" transactions - known in the trade as "div-arb" - are structured and marketed as tax-avoidance vehicles.

The trove of transaction logs, e-mails, marketing materials, chat messages and other communications among deal participants involves a who's who of the world's big banks and institutional investors.

In deals like these, some of America's largest money managers briefly lend out some of their German holdings each year. Those shares are temporarily held by German investment funds and banks that by law pay no tax on German dividends or can claim refunds for tax withheld. The borrowed shares are returned shortly after the dividend is paid.

The banks or funds that borrowed the shares receive the dividends tax-free and then transfer that money to the stocks' original owner, minus fees for middlemen. The foreign investors typically end up with added income equivalent to about half the dividend tax that would have been owed.

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Some firms, like BlackRock, run their own security lending programs, while others lend through big global banks that package the deals.

Vanguard, BlackRock and Fidelity said their securities lending follows applicable laws and is designed to help investors. Mike McNamee, a spokesman for the Investment Company Institute, which represents large money managers, said "funds have an obligation to maximize returns for shareholders."

Div-arb has been an open secret on Wall Street for years. It faces new scrutiny in Germany amid questions about its legality and a government push to end it. The practice - sometimes called "dividend washing," "dividend stripping" or "yield enhancement" - is the latest version of a long-running game in which creative bankers exploit gaps and inconsistencies in foreign tax systems to benefit wealthy clients. As with corporate inversions and schemes to hide money in offshore accounts, governments lose billions and the tax burden shifts to others.

Some say governments have no one but themselves to blame. "Unless governments are going to get serious about harmonizing and standardizing tax rates, then governments leave themselves open to this loophole," said Josh Galper, managing principal of Finadium, a financial consulting firm in Concord, Mass.

Legal experts who reviewed trades detailed in the documents said they might cross the line because German law forbids transactions whose sole purpose is to avoid taxes - a standard that is extremely difficult to meet.

Germany's highest tax court recently invalidated one div-arb transaction that it called an "empty shell."

In the United States, Congress put an end to div-arb in 2010 after a scathing report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations two years earlier.

Shown some of the German transactions in the cache, Reuven Avi-Yonah, a University of Michigan Law School professor who helped Senate investigators in 2008, said he believes they were "pretty clearly tax-motivated."

"Regardless of whether you have an obligation to your shareholders, that does not extend to things that you know have no motivation other than reducing taxes," Avi-Yonah said. "That's illegal under current German law."

In one e-mail exchange, a manager of Norway's sovereign wealth fund wrote to intermediaries to confirm his understanding of a lending transaction. The purpose of the loan, he wrote, was to "avoid" a 15 percent withholding tax on shares of international companies by agreeing to a 50-50 split of the taxes saved.

"We do not necessarily know the motivation for borrowing, or who the end user is, but are aware that tax considerations are one of several drivers for pricing these transactions," a spokesman for the fund said in an e-mail.

Sovereign wealth funds in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Singapore also lend shares for div-arb deals, the documents show. So do other investment managers in the United States, including Franklin Templeton and T. Rowe Price, both of which declined to comment.

Banks playing a role in such trades include Barclays, Goldman Sachs, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Swedish bank SEB, among others, the documents show.

All the banks declined to comment except for Deutsche Bank and SEB, which said their transactions abide by all applicable laws and regulations.

In Germany, the most prominent participant is Commerzbank, which was bailed out by German taxpayers during the financial crisis and is still 15 percent owned by the government. Commerzbank declined multiple requests for comment.

For German lawmaker Gerhard Schick, deputy chairman of the Parliament's finance committee, the irony stings. "Personally as a taxpayer, I feel as if somebody was pulling my leg when I found out banks that we rescued do trades at our expense," he said. "This is a no-go."

Carefully Timed Trades

Div-arb is a big deal in Germany. A ProPublica analysis of five years of stock lending data for companies on the DAX 30 - the German equivalent of the 30-stock Dow Jones industrial average - shows that the number of borrowed shares typically climbed 800 percent in the 20 days preceding the dividend record date. That's when companies identify shareholders who will get paid dividends. (See the interactive chart.)

Twenty days after the record date, borrowings returned to prior levels, according to share lending volume from S&P Global Market Intelligence, which provided the data for ProPublica's analysis.

The annual spikes in borrowing are as regular as blips on a heart monitor. By contrast, the number of borrowed shares of the Dow Industrials barely budges around dividend record dates.

There are no official statistics about the tax impact of div-arb. To estimate the annual loss to the German treasury, ProPublica calculated dividends paid by each DAX 30 company on the increased volume. That amount comes to about $6 billion a year. Other German stocks pay an additional $600 million or so. Based on a typical tax rate of 15 percent for foreign owners, the combined loss is $1 billion for the German treasury.

A key feature of the div-arb transactions is the absence of risk for borrowers and lenders. The terms are hedged and arranged months in advance, documents show. Lenders know when their shares will be loaned out, at what prices, and when they'll come back. Collateral backs the loans in case borrowers run into financial problems.

Here is how it worked for one trade on May 7, 2014:

In a deal brokered by Morgan Stanley, which found tax-exempt borrowers, Vanguard loaned out 95,000 shares of Adidas, which was due to pay a 1.5 euro-per-share ($2.19 a share) dividend two days later - a total of 142,500 euros, or about $196,000 at the currency conversion rate at the time.

Had Vanguard held the shares on the record date, it would have had $29,400 withheld for tax. But by shuffling the shares to a tax-exempt party in Germany, Vanguard was able to get an extra $12,700 for its investors; the remaining $16,700 was shared with Morgan Stanley and other players.

The Adidas shares came back five days later, netting an annualized yield of 9 percent on the loan for Vanguard's investors, ProPublica calculated.

To turn thousands of such small, riskless trades into more substantial profits, bankers package them into billion-dollar baskets.

The Adidas transaction was one of hundreds of such loans made by Vanguard mutual funds totaling more than $1 billion across several dozen stocks. Most were German; the remainder included companies from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland.

The companies paid $31 million of dividends on Vanguard's holdings in May, June and July of 2014. Trade logs show that the Vanguard funds would have netted an average of 81 percent of those dividends had taxes been withheld. Instead, Vanguard got 90 percent, or $3 million more.

Vanguard declined to discuss any individual trades. "Securities lending is a widely accepted practice that we prudently employ to augment fund returns to the benefit of our clients," company spokesman John Woerth wrote in an e-mail.

Woerth said any "insinuation that this is a tax dodge is incorrect" because stock borrowers are responsible for paying local taxes. "We are not privy to information about the end securities' borrowers, their tax situation in Germany, and what, if any, type of profit they may earn as a result of borrowing over a dividend record date," he said.

Vanguard receives a "securities lending fee" from the deals, along with a "dividend equivalent payment," Woerth said.

The banks involved in the various Vanguard share loans, besides Morgan Stanley, were Goldman Sachs, Barclays, JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup. The banks all declined to comment.

For the div-arb deals to work, shares must be loaned to a German fund or bank that doesn't face withholding taxes or can file for a refund if they are withheld. The trading logs don't identify those entities. But in the Adidas deal, share ownership data from BaFin, Germany's securities regulator, offers a clue about Commerzbank's possible role.

The bank normally isn't a large holder of Adidas stock. But on May 7, it reported to BaFin that it owned 4.32 percent of Adidas - about 9 million shares - that made it a top Adidas shareholder in line for $18,792,000 in dividends.

Assuming that a 15 percent tax would otherwise have been paid, the German treasury lost $2.8 million.

By May 20, post-dividend, Commerzbank's holdings of Adidas were back to zero. The swing was not an isolated case. From 2013 and 2015, BaFin records show nearly 250 similar spikes in Commerzbank holdings of individual stocks. About 80 percent of the swings occurred at the time of dividend record dates, an ARD analysis found.

Commerzbank is identified in e-mail exchanges as a provider of "end user" funds where loaned German shares can be placed without being taxed. Commerzbank declined to comment on its role in the deals.

Chief executive Martin Blessing was asked about div-arb at the bank's recent annual meeting. Blessing, whose contract expired May 1, said the bank handles more than 100,000 transactions a day with thousands of participants.

While acknowledging that some transactions occur around dividend dates, he said the bank's auditors ensure that "all transactions are in compliance with the law."

For Investors Who 'Suffer' Taxes

Investment firms say they lend shares to benefit their clients and won't discuss why demand spikes around dividend times, but the documents offer some explanation.

Marketing materials from one bank identify the trades as a "risk-controlled" way for investors who "suffer" taxes to "recapture" dividends that are withheld.

Another bank prepared an explainer for clients that says, "We're not going to pretend to be tax experts, but it goes something like this." The explainer then details how investors can avoid taxes by lending shares over dividend dates.

In one set of messages, a senior securities lending executive at Vanguard gave an intermediary permission to lend out shares of an international stock for "the dividend yield enhancement trade."

In another case, Commerzbank e-mailed another party in one deal asking to renegotiate after learning that a portion of the dividend would be tax-exempt. That would reduce the tax benefit of the transaction.

Accounts of meetings show that at least some firms backed off trades. One document describes Goldman Sachs bankers saying their traders abandoned certain deals in 2013 because of increased internal scrutiny of div-arb. Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

In another document, a senior banker cites "reputational concern" as a reason for flagging demand for div-arb trades. Despite the concern, the banker said traders on his team continued to be "proactive" and "push" out baskets of loans over dividend record dates.

Reputational concerns appear to have motivated some German banks to stay away from div-arb. Nord/LB, for one, said its policies forbid div-arb deals.

Trying To Shut It Down

New attention to div-arb by German regulators and lawmakers is the byproduct of a recent scandal involving trades in which participants had been claiming duplicate refunds of dividend taxes.

Those deals, known as "cum/ex" trades, were outlawed by Germany in 2012. Regulators are now moving to claw back the refunds from German banks. But the law didn't address deals like Vanguard's loan of Adidas shares, called "cum/cum."

Last August, Germany's Federal Fiscal Court - the equivalent of the U.S. Tax Court - struck down a div-arb deal involving an unidentified British financial institution and a German company. The court found that there was no transfer of economic ownership because, among other things, the borrower bore no risk.

A tax official in one state, Baden-Württemberg, has said the court ruling implies that similar deals may not hold. Reporters contacted officials in each of Germany's 16 states to ask if they were investigating div-arb; four said they had found evidence of questionable transactions but declined to elaborate.

Now, the government is trying to shut down div-arb for good. Pending legislation would force temporary share owners to hold a stock for at least 45 days and to have at least 30 percent of a stock's value at risk, restrictions that would make the deals uneconomical. Australia adopted a similar change to halt the practice there.

In the United States, it took the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010 and aggressive rules from the IRS to halt div-arb, which had existed in a variety of forms since at least 1991.

Elise Bean, who as subcommittee chief counsel helped lead the Senate's investigation in 2008, said other countries have their work cut out for them.

Documents in the cache indicate that bankers book div-arb trades in France, Canada, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Israel, Hungary, Singapore, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Spain and South Africa. They are also on the lookout for new markets.

"Everybody and their brother was doing it in the U.S.," Bean said. "And I guess now everybody and their brother is doing it abroad."

Pia Dangelmayer, Wolfgang Kerler and Arne Meyer-Fünffinger, special to BR Recherche, part of German public broadcaster ARD, contributed to this report.

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UPDATE 5/3: After publication of our joint investigation, Germany's Commerzbank said it would stop participating in the transactions detailed in this story without waiting for the government to ban them. In addition, a spokesman for the German finance ministry called the transactions "illegitimate because their sole purpose is to avoid the legal taxation of dividends."

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

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

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

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* Tax Day: Patriotic Millionaires Available For Comment.

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

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

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

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

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Help Us Investigate: Do you have a tip or documents about who helps investors avoid dividend taxes? You can confidentially share records with us using our SecureDrop system.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:54 AM | Permalink

May 3, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Very few police misconduct complaints see the light of day. Only about 7 percent are sustained, and only 2 percent result in officer discipline, according to the City of Chicago's own data. What most troubles people looking to enhance police accountability, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel's handpicked task force, is that the majority of the complaints never get investigated," Eleanore Catalico writes for the Chicago Reporter.

"Of the 17,700 civilian complaints filed from 2011 to 2014, investigators didn't open cases on 58 percent of them. Why? They were marked 'no affidavit.' Due to a state law and police union contract rules, civilians must sign sworn affidavits to accompany their official complaints."

To understand why that's a problem, click through.

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Related: Police union chief Dean Angelo vs. police task force chair Lori Lightfoot on Chicago Tonight tonight. Oops, this was last night. My mistake. Here's the video:

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So dumb I almost didn't tweet it but those are the tweets that always get the most response:

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Wrestling Hall Of Fame Evicts Hastert
He wasn't even the best coach at Yorkville.

How Barclay's Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss
Windfall for executives sticks citizens with the bill.

More Bad Concussions News For Kids
Stay away from football - and the playground.

Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Baltimore Oriole
Give 'em some sugar.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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When is Illinois Hates You Awareness Month?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Every month.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:43 AM | Permalink

How Barclays Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss

LONDON - When Barclays sold a fund management business to U.S. financial group Blackrock in 2009, the larger-than-expected $15.2 billion price tag was not the only good news for the British bank's investors.

The way Barclays structured the sale - by booking part of the proceeds in Luxembourg - allowed it to do something not possible under most tax systems: generate a tax loss from a tax-exempt transaction, a Reuters analysis of previously unreported company filings and statements shows.

The move has helped Barclays to earn billions of dollars almost tax free.

The entirely legal deal is the latest example of the ways in which some companies are able to benefit from tax regimes that regulators around the world are trying to crack down on so they can raise more tax revenue at home.

The small European state of Luxembourg is among those coming under scrutiny for its tax regime that local authorities and lawyers say is a legitimate way to attract business.

Barclays' tax loss was made possible because it sold its Barclays Global Investors business tax free in Britain, but had part of the sale proceeds - $9 billion in BlackRock shares - paid to a subsidiary in Luxembourg.

That way, Barclays was able to offset the risk of the shares losing value, something not normally possible in a tax-free deal. A rise would have netted Barclays profits. When instead the shares fell, Barclays used the loss to claim a tax deduction in Luxembourg that was not available in the UK.

Barclays' subsidiary in Luxembourg, one of Europe's smallest states with just half a million people, lost $2.6 billion when the Blackrock shares fell, but has earned almost double the amount virtually tax free since 2012, partly by offsetting some of the BlackRock loss.

Barclays spokeswoman Candice MacDonald said the structure of the BGI sale was not aimed at securing a tax reduction but intended to secure a simpler and more certain tax treatment and avoid volatility in the bank's regulatory capital. BlackRock declined comment.

Tax advisers say there is nothing wrong with companies organizing their affairs to take advantage of generous tax treatments offered by different countries.

"It would be very odd to criticize that or say it's inappropriate," said Neal Todd, tax partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner. "If governments aren't happy with the law, they should change it."

TAILS YOU DON'T LOSE

The European Commission is investigating whether Luxembourg has broken EU rules by not applying its tax rules appropriately, offering companies an unfair tax advantage. Last year it said the state did break those rules in a deal with carmaker Fiat.

The Grand Duchy, a founder member of the bloc, says it is making itself an attractive financial center using only legitimate means.

Barclays is not part of the EU investigation, since the structure of the BGI sale involves using an unusual law in a straightforward manner rather than any inappropriate interpretation of the rules.

The bank is one of hundreds of companies which lawyers say have benefited from Luxembourg's little-known 'Heads you win, tails you don't lose' tax treatment of significant shareholdings which Reuters reported on in 2013.

The treatment runs counter to the symmetry principle fundamental to most tax systems: where profits are taxable, losses are tax deductible, but if a gain or income is tax-exempt, corresponding losses cannot reduce tax on other income.

What some politicians say sets Barclays apart is that, like all UK banks, it got significant support from taxpayers during the financial crisis.

The government offered more than £600 billion in credit to the banking sector through support schemes and bought stakes in some banks, enabling them to pay their debts to others like Barclays.

TAXPAYER SUPPORT

Campaigners like Molly Scott Cato, member of the European Parliament for the Green Party, say this makes Barclays' tax savings unacceptable.

"They should have greater social responsibility after the financial crisis that we are all still paying for," she said.

She also said the Grand Duchy's tax rules should not deviate from international norms like the symmetry principle and help companies shift profits and losses. "It is creating an uneven playing field," she said.

The Luxembourg Ministry of Finance did not respond to requests for comment but has previously denied using tax rules to unfairly attract investment and jobs.

Barclays has said it does appreciate the taxpayer support it and peers received and it adopted a set of tax principles in 2013 that ensures it behaves in a socially responsible way. These principles bar artificial tax planning.

Tax lawyers in Luxembourg say no other EU country offers the same asymmetric treatment of share sales and credit the law with making Luxembourg an attractive location for holding companies.

Scott Cato and others say the Luxembourg law should be scrapped, but tax lawyers say it is very difficult for the EU to force countries to change laws covering income and capital gains taxes, since bloc rules give national governments sole responsibility in this area.

FROM PROFIT TO TAX LOSS

The sale delivered significant windfalls for senior Barclays executives although none of them benefited from the Luxembourg structure, because their gains were assessed under their personal income tax systems.

Bob Diamond, the head of investment banking who would later go on to lead Barclays group, netted gains of $33 million, according to a 2009 bank filing. His deputy Richard Ricci was also one of the largest shareholders in BGI, but the head of BGI, Blake Grossman, was the largest beneficiary, as the second-largest shareholder in BGI after Barclays.

In all, minority shareholders in BGI - mainly BGI and Barclays executives - received over 500 million pounds from the sale of BGI, according to Barclays 2009 annual report.

The possibility that Barclays could benefit from the law was not a given when the bank began courting buyers for BGI in early 2009.

Analysts predicted a $10 billion price tag but Barclays agreed a $13.5 billion sale to Blackrock on condition it accepted around half the money in shares, then trading at $180 each.

The risk for Barclays was that, if those shares fell in value by the time the bank came to sell them, then the BGI windfall might not end up as large as it hoped.

When the deal went through in Dec. 2009, Barclays sold BGI to BlackRock for $6.6 billion in cash and shares now worth almost $9 billion, thanks to a BlackRock share price jump to $227 each.

Barclays told BlackRock to issue those shares not to BGI's UK owner Barclays Global Investors UK, but to a recently created Luxembourg company called Barclays BR Holdings Sarl.

When Barclays decided to sell its shares in BlackRock in 2012, the U.S. asset manager's stock had fallen back to $160.

Even at this share price, the BGI sale had netted Barclays a profit of well over $10 billion, but the bank now had a paper loss of $2.6 billion in Luxembourg, filings show. And being Luxembourg, that loss was deductible against other income.

Much of tax loss from the BlackRock share sale remains because Barclays also generated other tax losses from investments held in Luxembourg, the Barclays spokeswoman said.

Barclays had no branch network and only 14 staff in Luxembourg. But it structured some of its most profitable deals so that it could also report large profits there.

In the three years since selling the BlackRock stake, Barclays has made profits of 2.4 billion pounds in Luxembourg, its filings show. The tax it paid on this income totaled 24 million pounds.

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

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

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

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* Tax Day: Patriotic Millionaires Available For Comment.

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

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

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

Wrestling Hall Of Fame Evicts Hastert

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Monday revoked all awards bestowed upon former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert after he admitted in court to sexually abusing students years ago when he was a high school wrestling coach.

The organization's board of governors unanimously voted for the revocation after an ethics committee found Hastert's actions to be "detrimental to the ideals and objectives" of the Wrestling Hall of Fame, according to a statement on its website.

Lee Roy Smith, the body's executive director, said in the statement the board wanted to wait until Hastert's criminal case was over before making a decision.

Hastert, 74, once one of the most powerful U.S. conservative politicians, was sentenced on Wednesday to 15 months in federal prison for a financial crime related to sexual abuse of high school wrestlers he coached decades ago.

Hastert pleaded guilty last October to the crime of structuring, which involves withdrawing a large sum of money in small increments to avoid detection. While he was not charged with sex abuse because of the statute of limitations, he admitted to the judge at his sentencing hearing that he had sexually abused teenagers.

The abuse occurred while Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach in his hometown of Yorkville in the 1960s and 1970s. He later reached a secret agreement with one of the victims to pay him $3.5 million in compensation for pain and suffering.

The Yorkville High School wrestlers were state champions during his tenure as coach.

The Stillwater, Oklahoma-based Hall of Fame said it revoked its Order of Merit and Outstanding American awards given to Hastert, along with separate awards bestowed by the Illinois Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.

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Plus:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:04 AM | Permalink

More Bad Concussion News For Young Football Players - And The Playground

"The first concussion study of its kind found youth football players are more likely to return to play less than a day after injury than those in high school and college."


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Plus: "Playground concussions are on the rise, according to a new government study, and monkey bars and swings are most often involved."

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Previously:

* Bob Probert's Broken Brain.

* NFL Players Killing Themselves Because They Miss Football So Much.

* The College Football Report: Dementia Pugilistica.

* Blackhawks Playing Head Games.

* Jay Cutler Should Consider Retiring.

* Dislike: Friday Night Tykes.

* Hurt And Be Hurt: The Lessons Of Youth Sports.

* Chicago Soccer Player Patrick Grange Had CTE.

* Sony Softened Concussion To Placate NFL.

* Ultra-Realistic Madden To Simulate Game's Debilitating Concussions.

* Dear Football: I'm Breaking Up With You.

* Dead College Football Player's Brain Leaves Clues Of Concussions' Toll On Brain.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:51 AM | Permalink

Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Baltimore Oriole!

Throughout 2016, the Forest Preserves of Cook County invites visitors to see some of the most interesting native and migrating birds in the preserves.

Each month during the Forest Preserves' 2016 Bird the Preserves initiative, a new bird will be highlighted. Visitors will have the opportunity to spot the bird of the month at an event or program, and learn what makes that bird so special. The May Bird of the Month is the Baltimore oriole.

oriole1.jpg

Baltimore orioles feed mainly on insects, but in the spring and fall these birds have a serious sweet tooth . . . or beak.

Orioles are often heard and not seen because they forage high in trees for flower nectar, fruit and insects. But you can bring them to your backyard by appealing to their love of sweets:

oriole2.png

* Oranges: Cut an orange in half and hang the slices from a tree

* Jelly: Place a small amount of jelly in a dish or specially designed feeder

* Sugar water: Use a specially designed feeder and make your own "nectar"

The sugars from these feeders (and naturally occurring fruits and nectar) help the orioles build fat reserves for spring and fall migration. Make sure to change these feeder foods daily.

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To see the May Bird of the Month, check out these events:

Morning Bird Walk
Friday, May 6, 9:30 a.m.
Trailside Museum of Natural History, River Forest

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Morning Bird Walk
Saturday, May 7, 7 a.m.
Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, Willow Springs

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Tuesday Mornings Are For The Birds!
Tuesday, May 10, 8 a.m.
Sand Ridge Nature Center, South Holland

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Bird Walk
Tuesday, May 10, 8 a.m.
Crabtree Nature Center, Barrington Hills

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International Migratory Bird Day
Saturday, May 14, 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, Lemont

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In addition to learning about the featured Bird of the Month and enjoying birding programs and events, birders of all skill levels can explore the preserves with teams competing in the Forest Preserves' Big Year birding competition. During the Big Year competition, the preserves compete instead of the people. Participants will visit their team's preserve and log all bird sightings in eBird, an online birding checklist program. All are welcome to join these searches and binoculars will be available for loan.

The competition runs from March 1 to Dec. 31, and is a great way to challenge yourself and explore a local preserve, make new friends and experience what birding is all about. To learn more about the Big Year competition, visit fpdcc.com/2016-Big-Year.

On May 7, each of the Forest Preserves' six nature centers will be hosting The Big Sit. Visitors can join in at any time between 5:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to see how many birds can be heard or spotted from within a 17-foot circle. Citizen science events like The Big Sit can help ecologists make better decisions about the conservation of bird habitat.

Join a growing movement of nature lovers and bird the preserves this year while enjoying the many amenities offered throughout the Forest Preserves, including miles of marked trails, major waterways that can be canoed or kayaked, dedicated nature preserves and more.

Support for Bird the Preserves was generously provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Chicago Wilderness. For more information, visit visit fpdcc.com/birding. For additional information about the Big Year competition, visit fpdcc.com/2016-Big-Year.


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Previously:
* Experience Birding In The Cook County Forest Preserves!

* Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Timberdoodle.

* Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Wood Duck!

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BOM-March-page-002.jpg

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:16 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2016

The [Monday] Papers

"[Chicago's] political donor class is disproportionately and overwhelmingly made up of rich, white men with a penchant for austerity and budget cuts, according to the first-ever municipal-level study of race, class and gender disparities in buying elections," Sarah Lazare writes for AlterNet.

"Sean McElwee of the public policy organization Demos found that, during the 2015 mayoral race, candidates received 'more than 92% of their funds from donors giving $1,000 or more.' A stunning 88 percent of these big donors were white, in a city where white people comprise just 39 percent of the population. It is worth noting that big donors to the widely-reviled Rahm Emanuel skewed very white - at 94 percent. This compares with 61 percent for his unsuccessful rival Chuy Garcia.

"Not shockingly, big donors are far richer than the average city resident. 'Though only 15% of Chicagoans make more than $100,000, 63% of donors did and 74% of those giving more than $1,000 did,' McElwee notes."

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Shouldn't a poor black person - or any black person, given the city's demographics - have the same say on city policy as a rich white person? This is a huge problem for democracy.

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Shouldn't I have the same say as, say, Michael Sacks? He got rich running a hedge fund; I got poor doing journalism. Which one of us has a deeper understanding of the issues?

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"These disparities extend far beyond the mayoral race. 'Only five overwhelmingly white wards accounted for 13 percent of Chicago's population,' the study finds, 'but 42 percent of donors to the Chicago mayoral and aldermanic races.'"

Democracy in Chicago is clearly askew.

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Oh, but it gets worse:

Here, however, is the real catch. Surveys show that the political goals of wealthy Chicago residents diverge dramatically from those of the broader population. The 2012 Chicago-based Survey of Economically Successful Americans found that the city's wealthy residents, two-thirds of whom are political donors, were far less likely to support a higher minimum wage or "decent standard of living for the unemployed." They were also far less likely to agree with the statements that the federal government "should spend whatever is necessary to ensure that all children have really good public schools they could go to" and make sure "everyone who wants to go to college can do so."

Meanwhile, separate data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies shows that Chicago's donors are far more likely than their non-donating counterparts to back national austerity measures to reduce the debt.

"The current path Chicago is following, with cuts to mental health services, infrastructure and public schools, is responsive to the preferences of the donor class, not average Chicagoans," writes McElwee.

That last claim is reminiscent of the findings of Gilens and Page, whose research shows that "the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy."

Conclusion: In no objective way can Rahm Emanuel claim to represent "Chicagoans." He does not enact policy on "their" or "our" behalf. I realize this isn't news to a great many of you, but the extent of it (and the academic proof thereof) is still of great significance. But is anyone "important" listening?

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McElwee wrote up his work for himself on Salon, where you can see, for example, Table 1: Policy Preferences of Wealthy Chicagoans and the General Public.

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Research proposal: Overlay the data with a content analysis of Chicago media coverage - is it similarly skewed toward the interests of the wealthy (and their policy preferences)?

I think we already know the answer to that, but documenting it would be fascinating.

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The Cub Factor: Crushing The Copycats
The success of The Plan has another helpful subplot playing out.

Election Fever!
The public is breaking out in hives.

The White Sox Report: Eating Up The AL
Don't stop eating now, boys.

Chicagoetry: Violets/Violence
Any young flower can be arresting.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Municipal Waste, Los Straitjackets, Deicide, Dream Theater, White Denim, Can I Get An Amen, Behemoth!, Sam Cohen, and Klaus Johann Grobe.

SportsMonday: N/A
Jim "Coach" Coffman is away this week on a super-secret mission. He'll return next Monday.

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BeachBook

How Cities Are Protecting Small Neighborhood Shops.

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Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are?

This is a fantastic - and astonishing - read.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Comment is free.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:28 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Municipal Waste at Reggies on Friday night.


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2. Los Straitjackets at FitzGerald's in Berwyn on Friday night.

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3. Deicide at the Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.

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4. Dream Theater at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.

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5. White Denim at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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6. Can I Get An Amen at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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7. Behemoth! at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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8. Sam Cohen at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Klaus Johann Grobe at the Empty Bottle last Tuesday night.

Loerzel: "[D]elightful grooves with synth, organ,metronomic drum beats and German lyrics that seemed almost chanted at times - a beguiling balance between the mechanical and the organic."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:15 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

The public is breaking out in hives!


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Previously in Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter!:

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

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Plus:

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And:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:57 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Violets/Violence

Violets/Violence

A soft, suburban violet
Is a bride of quietness, foster-child
Of silence and slow time.

Buds, blooms and blossoms seem
Sudden every cycle: "Wait:
Winter isn't forever?!"

Innocence is in this way
Renewed, and any young
Flower can be arresting.

Just when I think I know
All I need to know
The violets grin with fresh mystery:

Through my synesthesia I see
Their bright melody,
Hear their bold color.

Long daylight and warm breezes
Bring them out for one mortal season.
I celebrate their brief life!

But I dread its bloody companion:
I can retreat to my garden
To ogle a violet

But through my synesthesia

I see what echoes
Through the alleys, tunnels and viaducts
All along the grid

In short, sharp shocks.
As looms the summer
Looms the dunning.

I'm sorry, but as I savor
The texture and fragrance
Of my little purple-white star

Experience is renewed.

I know what slaughter is coming.
I know what laughter
Will be stunned into grief.

Who would pray for endless winter?
Who would yearn for summers brief?
Who would slay

A violet?

Who can live in a garden?!
Will my "L" car catch a stray?
Will my bus stop get greased?

Through the quiet beauty
Echoes the loud, bloody truth:
Truth is not beauty.

Truth is sometimes laughter
But also sometimes slaughter.
And between them is a line,

Like the ragged boundary between
The white and the purple
On my violet petals,

Like the shadow-thin line
Between the luxury of solitude
And the poverty of loneliness.

Truth is luxury and truth
Is poverty. Truth is good,
Bad and ugly.

My soft, tender bloom
Is comfort enough in the moment,
And has liberated me

From the hoary clichés
Of history. My foster-child
Of silent spring

Whispers "There is more,
Much more,
You need to know."

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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 12:13 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2016

Crushing The Copycats

I would consider myself a baseball fan. Sure, I'm a Cub fan first, but I play fantasy baseball and keep up with other teams, watch the highlight shows, yadda yadda. But I have to say, who are these guys? Not the Cub guys; I know those guys. I'm talking about the Brewers and Braves, Twins and Padres, Reds, etc. It's like you woke up one day and looked around and everything changed while you sleeping. But you were not even sleeping, it was while you were awake and still kind of paying attention.

And just no way you can't blame the Cubs for this. It's all their fault. Maybe partial blame on the Astros, but so far that's not working out this season. Tanking has officially taken over baseball. Which I guess is good for no-longer-tanking teams like the Cubs, but it's just super weird. What happened to finding lightning in a bottle for that one season? Or having like three guys on your team all have career years to vault your team into contention that one time? Or the blind and idiotic optimism of a franchise that thinks it could put together a 2007 Colorado Rockies-like 14-game or so win streak to make it into the playoffs? It's all gone.

I guess you can chalk it all up to a sign o' the times and a new generation. Maybe just another thing we can blame on millennials. As much as I try not to be that crochety old man telling the kids to get off my lawn, I, um, well, geez dude, you're on my lawn! And I'm trying to keep it looking presentable these days.

But at the same time, it's all so conflicting. It's refreshing for teams to make no bones about the tank job going on. I mean, It was just last season that Theo lied about why they didn't bring Kris Bryant up at the beginning of the season. So, it seems like progress that other teams aren't even trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes right now.

But what ever happened to hope springing eternal? Or the improbable run of a dark horse team?

Then I think, am I trying too hard to make America great again? Maybe I am.

So yeah, nevermind. I'm good with the Cubs beating the crap out of these Tankers. Or the ghosts of Cubs of 2012 past.

I guess the thing to do is actually look to see who is going to be available in a trade come the second half. Because you know that's what the Cubs did, and that should be what these other teams will be doing. So I guess the success of The Plan with the Cubs has another helpful subplot playing out - you can crush the copycats.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 3-1 for the week with two rainouts. They took both games with the bad Brewers and split two with the lowly Braves. Nothing wrong with 3-1 but boy, this team is already looking so good that any loss makes you ask What the heck happened? Can't wait for them to lose a few series' in a row.

Week in Preview: The boys in blue head to Pittsburgh for three and then come back home for four against the Nats. Should be an interesting week to have games against a couple other teams that are actually trying. It really is a question to ask this year: Did you win or lose against a trying or tanking team.

Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. Jorge Soler had two starts in left and Kris Bryant got the other two. Sczcur got some action in left (and hit a granny) as did Javy Baez. Left field really is the new second base. And this is with Schwarber out for the season. It's clearly shaking out with who the odd man out is. I'll let you guess. (Hint: It's the guy who can't hit or catch or play any other positions.)

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: The Cubs will welcome back former manager Dusty Baker, who is now skippering the Nationals. They are off to a nice start this year. And apparently they remind Dusty of the 1977 Dodgers so much he can't stop talking about the similarities. Which seems like a pretty Dusty-like thing to do - living in the past and putting unfair expectations on this players to live up to one of the better teams in history. Here's hoping there are other things Dusty-like that happen in this series and for the rest of the season with the Nationals. Like managing like a clown and not having a real clue on how to handle a pitching staff, etc. Yeah, he is not missed.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: Soler is currently entrenched on my annoying list. One-for-6 with two walks for the week - which actually brought up his batting average to .190. But I guess if you want to compare batting averages, Heyward's .211 and Rizzo's .220 need to be looked at as well. So yeah, nice start and all to the season for the Cubs, but it would be nice for a handful of guys to get it rolling already.

Mad(don) Scientist: Finally Big Poppa Joe got the stupid rolling again this season, with "wacky suit" day. I was really beginning to think that we would only have baseball for all of us to enjoy. I wonder what the 1977 Dodgers wore on road trips.

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the Cubs-Pirates game on Monday in Pittsburgh can come early and paint a picture. This time around it's that Pirate parrot guy. Hopefully the Cubs do this as well with their mascot.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that playing the trying-to-win teams should be fun.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 PM | Permalink

Eating Up The AL

I've always had a soft spot for ballplayers who - I'd like to be kind here - appear to be far from tip-top condition. You wonder how they could possibly show up every day prepared to face the arduous 162-game grind. They're anywhere from a touch overweight to borderline obese, like, say, Bartolo Colon.

In no other sport would these athletes be able to race up and down the court or field. How many fat hockey players do you see? Rafa Nadal must have negative body fat. Sure, there are some pot-bellied football linemen, but they also have biceps the size of redwoods, and they run 40 yards in well under five seconds.

Baseball is in a class of its own. The man who propelled the sport into the national consciousness was a gluttonous drinker whose idea of a training meal was a couple of steaks, a mountain of fries and a six-pack. Almost 100 years later, the legend of Babe Ruth arguably is even larger than the reality of his 714 home runs and .342 lifetime average, while current players work out relentlessly and eat kale.

So it is that two anti-Adonises have played important roles so far in this surprising season for the White Sox, who are 18-8 after winning five of seven in Toronto and Baltimore over the past week.

Matt Albers was potentially washed up two seasons ago. Shoulder issues limited him to 10 innings of relief for the Astros in 2014. Yet Rick Hahn inked him to a one-year $1.5 million deal prior to last season. Albers' career again was stymied last April when he broke a finger trying to break up a melee between his teammates and the Royals. Three months of inactivity followed.

But the portly (kind enough?) right-hander came back better than ever, accounting for 20 scoreless relief appearances in August and September. He again was granted free agency in November but apparently didn't make a strong enough impression on the rest of the league, allowing Hahn to re-sign Albers for $2 million a few weeks before the start of spring training.

Albers has picked up right where he left off with 10 more scoreless appearances to begin this season. None of these efforts came prior to the sixth inning, so he's recording crucial outs late in games.

Sure, he was charged with two runs in Saturday night's exciting come-from-behind 8-7 win against the Orioles, but those were unearned. Then on Sunday he retired three of the four batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings. So make it 36 consecutive innings without yielding an earned run.

That's even better than Jake Arrieta, a picture of chiseled conditioning, who's been nicked for a measly four earned runs in his last 36 frames. For some misguided reason last week, Arrieta felt obligated to defend himself against rumors of PED use. Meanwhile, I'm not even sure Albers can spell PED.

Then there's Dioner Navarro, the much-traveled switch-hitting catcher and another member of Robin Ventura's crew who clearly hasn't missed any meals recently. Navarro began the season in a 2-for-29 funk while sharing catching duties with Alex Avila.

But Avila went to the DL on April 23 with a strained hamstring, and since then Navarro has gone 7-for-24. His seventh-inning, two-run triple (you read that correctly) last Wednesday broke up a scoreless tie in Toronto en route to a 4-0 shutout victory for Jose Quintana and three relievers.

And Navarro's leadoff single Sunday in the fifth inning started a five-run salvo as the White Sox conquered Baltimore 7-1 to earn a split of the four-game series.

(In addition, Chris Sale, who didn't have his best stuff, managed to pitch into the sixth inning on a yield of five hits, although he uncharacteristically walked four. Sale now is 6-0. The pitcher with the best season start in Sox history is Orval Grove, who won his first nine decisions in 1943. Joe Horlen went 8-0 in 1967 before suffering a loss, so Sale still has some work ahead of him to make it into the history books.)

The Sox list Navarro as 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds. The first measurement seems accurate while the latter could be cause for debate. Regardless of what the scale reads, Navarro is a decent catcher who threw out nine of 23 would-be base-stealers with Toronto last year. He signed with the Sox because he wanted more playing time, and he figures to get it, which is a plus for the surging South Siders.

My affection for well-fed members of the White Sox goes back about 60 years. When starting pitchers were expected to be present in the eighth or ninth inning, most teams carried just 10 or 11 pitchers, affording them the luxury of having men who were strictly pinch hitters.

The first one I recall was aging journeyman Ron Northey, who would have been a splendid DH if he were around today. Listed as an outfielder, Northey almost never required a fielder's glove. In 1956, he appeared in 53 games for the third-place Sox, who finished 85-69. However, in only four of those games was Northey asked to play in the field.

ron-northey-1957-topps.gif

With a slash line of .354/.417/1.000 and a waist line of similar dimensions, I was taken with the guy. He had 48 official at-bats that year and, get this, he struck out a total of one time! He had walk-off hits in two consecutive games in September when the games counted heavily. He drove in 23 runs. Extrapolate that to 500 at-bats, and you get 230 RBI.

Aside from the three home runs that Northey slammed that season, each and every time he collected a pinch hit he was immediately lifted for a pinch runner. So Ron scored only three times the entire season. In fact, in his final 107 major league games - he last played with the Phillies in 1957 when he was 37 - Northey appeared only as a pinch hitter and was removed for a runner every time he reached base.

Being less kind and gentle, the Sporting News referred to Northey as "Round Ron" and "roly-poly."

Northey's success as a pinch hitter paved the way for Forrest (Smoky) Burgess, a former National League catcher who was strictly a hitter for the Sox in two of his three-plus seasons here, 1965 and 1966. A wicked left-handed slugger, Smoky stood only 5-foot-8. His figure would make Navarro look svelte.

smoky-burgess-1966.gif

Chicago sportswriter Edgar Munzel described Burgess as a "year-round Santa." Writing in the Sporting News, Munzel said, "Smoky is so rotund that he looks like he ought to be wearing a bar apron and drawing foaming steins in a beer garden."

Munzel had the correct location, but Burgess no doubt was on the receiving end - not the serving end - of those suds. But, man, could he hit. In '65 and '66, Burgess's slash was .298/.392/.790. He hit a couple of homers in 1965. Those were the only times he scored because, like Northey, a pinch runner emerged from the dugout after every hit (or walk) to take Smoky's place on the bases. Not occasionally or frequently but 100 percent of the time.

Of course, the Sox have had other men of girth over the years. Few were as interesting and colorful as knuckleballer Wilbur Wood, who was an effective reliever until manager Chuck Tanner made him a starter for the 1971 season. Tanner figured - accurately as it turned out - that anyone as good as Wood for an inning or two could stretch out a lot longer without damaging his arm. Over the next five seasons, Wood won 106 games. Being a genuine White Sox, he also lost 89. He was 24-20 in 1973, pitching 359 innings, which was 17 less than the year before.

Wood was listed at 180 pounds on his six-foot frame, but, judging from his substantial midsection, that seemed hardly possible. But it didn't matter because the guy often pitched on two days' rest and once even started - and lost - both ends of a doubleheader.

Those of us who would be very content with a more modest waistline while we disdain another trip to the gym need look no further than guys like Albers and Navarro for comfort. Who needs a Giancarlo Stanton when we can take pleasure in seeing Matt and Dioner contribute to the ballclub that has the best record in the American League?

They should keep consuming three squares a day. If they want seconds, go for it. Seems to be working just fine.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

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1. From Sam DiCola:

When I think of overweight ballplayers, I remember Pat Seerey (sometimes referred to as Fat Pat Seerey). Coming from Cleveland, he only played with the Sox for a little over a year. My best memory of him was in a game in 1949 when the Sox were probably losing 1-0 with two outs in the ninth inning; Luke Appling walked and Fat Pat came up and hit a high homer that just made it into the left field stands for a walk-off victory.

Editor's Note: He also had a four-HR game for the Sox in 1948.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

For completists, there wasn't a column on Friday.

"A newly published study from Oxford's Jon Penney provides empirical evidence for a key argument long made by privacy advocates: that the mere existence of a surveillance state breeds fear and conformity and stifles free expression. Reporting on the study, the Washington Post [Thursday] described this phenomenon: 'If we think that authorities are watching our online actions, we might stop visiting certain websites or not say certain things just to avoid seeming suspicious,'" Glenn Greenwald writes for the Intercept.

"The new study documents how, in the wake of the 2013 Snowden revelations (of which 87% of Americans were aware), there was 'a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned al-Qaeda, car bomb or Taliban.' People were afraid to read articles about those topics because of fear that doing so would bring them under a cloud of suspicion. The dangers of that dynamic were expressed well by Penney: 'If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate.'

"As the Post explains, several other studies have also demonstrated how mass surveillance crushes free expression and free thought."

obamamic.jpg

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U.S. Surveillance Court A Bigger Rubber Stamp Than Chicago City Council
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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

Where Have 4.8 Million Syrian Refugees Gone?

Note: This article is part of a collaboration with Point Taken, a new program from WGBH. The show features fact-based debate on major issues of the day, without the shouting.

The Syrian civil war has entered its fifth year with few signs of ending.

The fighting has forced more than 13.5 million Syrians to flee their homes. Most of the displaced have not left Syria, but have simply moved around the country in an attempt to get out of the way of the fighting.

But approximately 4.8 million others have traveled beyond their nation's borders in a search for security.

In my book Cultures of Migration, I argue that mass migrations and refugee crises don't simply happen. They have a history and a trajectory. That work has led me to ask: Who are the Syrian refugees? What made their migration happen?

Things We Misunderstand

It is hard to characterize over 4.8 million people - that's a million more than live in Los Angeles. But it is fair to say that many of our common assumptions about Syrian refugees are based on misinformation.

Despite what politicians on the campaign trail tell us, most refugees aren't young men. More than 75 percent of the refugees fleeing Syria are women and children. More than 40 percent of those children are under 14 years of age.

Reaching the shores of Europe is not a goal for most. Only about 13.5 percent of the refugees have attempted the difficult and sometimes deadly journey to European Union countries. Fewer than 0.5 percent of the total number of Syrians who have fled their homeland have landed in the U.S. The majority have found a place to stay in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey as they wait for the violence to end at home.

A Complex Conflict

The exodus from Syria began in 2011, the same year the Syrian civil war began. Syria's upper and middle class - those who could best afford the high costs of crossing the border - fled first.

As the war escalated, what had been a regional problem grew more complex. The number of refugees seeking security increased and so too did their needs. A trickle became a flood, as Syrians of lesser financial means risked all to escape political instability and violence.

The majority of Syrian refugees are now spread across the Middle East and northern Africa. More than 650,000 Syrians are sheltering in Jordan. Lebanon is home to over 1 million and there are at least 2.6 million living in Turkey with smaller but substantial groups in Iraq, Egypt and Libya.

Some Syrians have found permanent homes in countries like Canada, which has taken in more than 20,000 refugees and serves as a model for other countries. But with the exceptions of Germany, home to more than 250,000 refugees, and Sweden where more than 30,000 have settled, many of the world's wealthiest nations - including the U.S. and Australia - have done little to settle Syrians fleeing violence in their homeland.

Syrian families rely on their savings and the support of friends and relatives to cover their expenses. Yet gaps remain that governmental and nongovernmental programs are left to cover.

Turkey, Syria's neighbor to the north, has borne most of the financial costs of the crisis. The country spends well over $500 million monthly, totaling in excess of $7.5 billion to date, on Syrian refugees. And while the UNHCR spends approximately $1,057 for each refugee annually, it also estimates that there is a $2.5 billion dollar deficit that must be covered if all refugees are to be supported.

Few Have Settled In Camps

The UNHCR estimates only about 10 percent or about 490,000 Syrians have shelter in a camp.

The other 90 percent struggle to cover their expenses and are forced to find shelter wherever it may be available. Mercycorps notes that many Syrian families in Lebanon and Turkey are living in rooms with no heat and no running water, some in abandoned chicken coops and storage sheds.

syrian.jpgZaatari refugee camp in Jordan. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Those who settle in camps have their own struggles. The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which is home to over 85,000 people, has become what New York Times reporter Michael Kimmelman describes as a "do-it-yourself metropolis." The camp features distinctive neighborhoods and an expanding economy that includes pizza delivery and an airport shuttle service, just two indicators of the efforts refugees make to regain a degree of normalcy in their lives.

Nevertheless, the challenges facing the refugees are many. Resources cannot keep pace with growth and families are continually in need of food, medicine and shelter.

Work is always difficult to find. Until the recent easing of labor rules that allows some refugees to fill local jobs, any formal work was forbidden. Now Syrian refugees who have registered and settled in Turkey for at least six months can apply for work, and earn the local minimum wage of approximately $575 a month. Even with the change in law, however, the reality is that there is little work available. Even professionals are often forced to engage in manual labor and informal day jobs that can disappear at any moment.

Writing from Lebanon, the British journalist Martin Armstrong quotes one worker:

"Sometimes I get work for three days, $30 a day . . . But sometimes it will only be four hours work and that's it. I haven't worked in three days. I don't know how I will pay rent."

Educations Interrupted

Millions of Syrian children lack access to schools and education and must wait to learn. The UNHCR's report on education notes that 10 years of educational reforms are in danger in Syria and quotes Nadia, a 14-year-old refugee in Jordan who says:

"Our lives are destroyed. We're not being educated, and without education there is nothing. We're heading towards destruction."

With towns filled, camps overflowing and a war showing few signs of ending, most Syrian refugees remain in limbo. The March 2016 agreement between the European Union and Turkey addresses some issues. Enumerated in a detailed EU press release, the agreement seeks to limit refugee movement and cover expenses with an additional 3 billion euros to Turkey. Yet the agreement also holds refugees in secured facilities. It may also encourage refugees to seek new routes into Europe and take bigger risks to get there.

Eva Cossé, the Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch, critiqued the current policy, stating:

"The EU's policy, carried out in Greece, has locked up families and others who have fled horrors such as ISIS terror, Taliban threats, or Syrian-government barrel bombs . . . When alternatives to detention exist, as they do on the Greek islands, there is no legal or moral justification to hold asylum seekers and migrants behind bars."

As one refugee, Frayha, told the Guardian: "If I can't go to Greece, then of course I'll find another way."

The Path Ahead

Pope Francis visited Lesbos last month to highlight the human costs of the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis. He asked that we look beyond our differences and seek solutions that are built upon dignity, unity and compassion. To underscore this message, he brought 12 refugees with him back to the Vatican.

syrianpope.jpgPope Francis welcomes a group of Syrian refugees to Rome. REUTERS/Filippo Monteforte

Opening borders and welcoming refugees will not end the civil war in Syria.

But opening borders could, I believe, help us to avoid disasters that come when crises are ignored, as they were in Kosovo in the 1990s.

And opening borders will give Syrian children the opportunity to return to their books, Syrian workers a chance to find jobs and refugee families the prospect of living in security and without fear.

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Jeffrey Cohen, is an anthropology professor at Ohio State University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Previously:
* The [Tuesday] Papers: You have a better chance of winning the Illinois Lottery - and getting paid - than a terrorist has of slipping into the United States posing as a refugee.

* The [Wednesday] Papers: Why I want to hug a woman wearing a hijab today.

* Here's The Story Of One Syrian Family That Resettled In Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:38 AM | Permalink

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