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« June 2016 | Main | August 2016 »

July 30, 2016

TrackNotes: At The Top Of A Supremely Tasty Pipe

Do we love our four seasons in Chicago?

When you can't live in Palm Springs, that's what you say.

We're in the middle of the baseball season, which will soon turn into a race. What am I here? George Carlin? The football season is right around the corner. And our Blackhawks are already preparing for their season.

Tangent: Not to step on the Beachwood baseball turf of Marty or Roger, but why do the MLB morons not have the Cubs and Sox play an odd number of games so as to allow bragger's rights? Screw Padres at Red Sox. But when it come to Cubs-Sox or Yankees-Mets, have they no meaning? And don't get me started on the umpiring.

Simply put, it's always Thoroughbred horse racing season, 364 every year, with cleansing on Christmas Day.

But you'd miss out if you didn't know or feel the rhythms, nuances, sine and cosign of the waves of racing. And right now, we are on the very top of a supremely tasty one, a Banzai pipe, East and West. Hang on. It's Duke Kahanamoku time.

The preparation races and the Triple Crown itself seem like a long time ago. Why, Ragin' Rajon and D-Wade came to Chicago, Chris Sale perfected his tailoring skills and Rahm Emanuel is hanging on for dear life to the undercarriage of the #126 on Harrison on the way to Austin Boulevard. A lot has happened since the Belmont.

Del Mar is running strong. Saratoga is, as always, in stride. As jim dandy of a day Jim Dandy Day is today, it's also just a prelude to Travers Day, the Summer Derby.

We had a couple for the ages just last week.

Songbird, the jaw-dropping and most-beautiful-in-every-way bestest filly in the land got it started Sunday in the prestigious Coaching Club American Oaks - 99th edition - at Saratoga.

Class willed out as 'Bird and the fine Carina Mia battled into the last furlong-plus, Songbird looking to me like she may have needed the race, although it was her second off the layoff. But our darling found much, much more and ran away from Carina to win by more than 5. Did I mention jaw dropping? She's only 3-years-old.

Good gosh, California Chrome is good and nice smart and man, do people like him more and more.

'Chrome is not America's horse just because his connections say he is, but those in the know understand he's as compelling a horse and a story as America has.

Chilling since his thrilling victory in the Dubai World Cup in March, our 'Chrome was set to go in the 75th San Diego Handicap, the one where Native Diver made enough bones to have a race named after him.

His chief rival figured to be Dortmund and that's exactly how it turned out. Triple Crown performer in 2015, appearances in the Kentucky Derby (third) and Preakness Stakes (distant fourth) and off since that very same Native Diver Stakes in November, it didn't show much as he and 'Chrome, in the two and one holes, respectively, hooked up from the git go and duked it out all the eight-and-a-half furlongs.

Boy oh boy does that California Chrome have heart. He never does it or makes it looks easy - or does he? - and in one of the best races of 2016, he finally repelled Dortmund to cross the wire a neck and short shoulder ahead. Next stop? The Pacific Classic.

Now we're talkin'. The surf is still up so grab some board and paddle to the 53rd Jim Dandy, nine furlongs from Saratoga.

With the stars Creator, winner of June's Belmont Stakes; chronic, mediocre wiseguy Laoban; talented but stumbling, Nyquist foil Mohaymen; and Destin, needing one since a win in the Tampa Bay Derby and a very tough nose beat in that same Belmont.

We'll also see at The Spa super distancer Flintshire in the 10.5-furlong Bowling Green on the turf. As good as he is, he brexited from Europe - second in both the Dubai Sheema Classic and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 2015 - to dominate in America in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Turf and the Manhattan Stakes six weeks ago.

Saturday's nightcap will feature the ladies in the 46th Clement L. Hirsch, Grade I, mile-and-a-sixteenth from Del Mar.

We'll have another marvelous opportunity to see Beholder, the six-year-old wonder mare, who seeks her ninth straight win. She comes in off a win over rival Stellar Wind, who runs here too, in Santa Anita's Vanity Mile June 4th.

Trainer Richard Mandella is very cautious with his superstar; she's only run twice this year. But all she does is win. Who am I to say?

You right-coasters hang tight down the Hudson, jump on the turnpike and land at Jersey Shore's Monmouth Park on Sunday for the weekend's best race, the 49th Haskell Invitational.

Coming off a Kentucky Derby win and a puzzling third in the Preakness, Nyquist leads the way, albeit with some what-have-you-done-lately curiosity from the fans. Breeders' Cup Juvenile, San Vicente and the Florida Derby also in his saddle bags, Nyquist drew the words "Triple Crown" from the mouth vapor of the knuckleheads who believe the fans "deserved" a Triple Crown winner back-to-back off the legendary American Pharoah.

You've never seen so many Conestoga Bandwagoneers jump so fast in your life. Ward Bond, I mean Doug O'Neill, has to be seeking vindication or revenge, or something, but he has to be at least a little worried over the chance of slop over that New Jersey ridge up ahead.

Nyquist still has a chance to be Horse of the Year in 2016, but he'll have to earn it, starting Sunday.

Lo and behold, who's that in the six hole? None other than Exaggerator, who broke through in the Santa Anita Derby slop and won in the Preakness slop. Oh, look, Curley said. There's a chance of slop in Springsteen Country on Sunday.

And there's also Gun Runner, winner over not much, but talented nonetheless. He finished third to these previous two in the Derby. This is a must-break-through race for him.

One more thing, Columbo. Watch out for American Freedom. Coming off a win in the Iowa Derby - don't laugh, that's called spotting a horse - he wheels back in 11 days under the tutelage of Bob Baffert, who has won this race eight times! Including 2015 with, what's his name? American Pharoah. The silver-haired one knows how to win this race.

Yes, these are the days, and races, of our 2016 lives. The drama only promises to build from here.

Gold Note
It's a sad note, but he's worth remembering.

Seeking the Gold, a great runner and a great sire, passed away Thursday at Claiborne Farm. A stately 31 years old, he was euthanized due to the infirmities of old age.

Talking about pedigree, he was the son of Mr. Prospector out of the Buckpasser mare Con Game; 'Gold won the Dwyer, Peter Pan and Swale Stakes, and was a bridegroom second in the Travers Stakes, Wood Memorial, Haskell, Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile), and the Gotham Stakes. He ran second to the legendary Alysheba in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic. He won more than $2.3 million racing.

Some of whom I remember, he sired Dubai Millenium, Seeking the Pearl, Heavenly Prize, Flanders, Catch the Ring, Bob and John, Cape Town and Jazil.

He more than earned his keep in the breeding shed, demanding as much as $250,000 per foal. He was pensioned (retired) in 2008.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:20 PM | Permalink

July 29, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #113: Aroldis Chapman Already Putting The K Back In The Kubs

Epic PR fail reminiscent of bad old days. Plus: Tommy Boy LaStella To Sell His Brake Pads In Des Moines; The Adam Warren Commission; Chris The Tank Engine; The Bears Are Already Grinding Coach Coffman's Gears; and Olympic Gamesmanship.


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SHOW NOTES

* 113.

:24: Tommy Boy LaStella To Sell His Brake Pads In Des Moines.

* A Bitter Betty.

* Perhaps this has something to do with it:

* A numbers game.

* The Cubs are carrying three catchers and 13 pitchers, which shortens their bench considerably, though one catcher is also a left fielder, which, just makes this move all the more perplexing.

* Rhodes: "The contract's in the belly, it's eaten, it's now coming out the other end."

5:20: Aroldis Chapman Already Putting The K Back In The Kubs.

* Gangler: The lovable losers are gone. So are the lovable winners. Now it's just about winning.

* Cubs Screw Up Chapman Introduction.

* To wit:

* Just two months ago: Chapman Still Says He Did Nothing Wrong.

* Chapman Open To Reunion With The Yankees: 'God Willing, Yes.'

* Rhodes vs. Haugh:

So it was just to fool the public, and as a reporter covering the team I'm fine with that.

* He's always thrown in triple digits - in public!

28:23: The Adam Warren Commission.

* Unable to adjust to the way Maddon used him here.

35:05 Chris The Tank Engine.

* Trade Sale, Quintana, Robertson, Cabrera and whoever else for position player prospects who are major-league ready, or close to it, then sign a couple big-time free agent pitchers in the offseason and you're good to go!

* It was the Phillies:

* Sale sucks.

47:17: The Bears Are Already Grinding Coach Coffman's Gears.

* Pup McPhee.

* Fluish Floyd.

* Kyle Long Gets The Boot.

* Khari Lee (sprained shoulder).

* T-Ball Journal.

* The Matt Slauson Mystery.

* Bears' Teenage GM Violates Child Labor Laws.

* O'Shea: Ex-Bears Abound On Fantasy Top 20.

58:26: Olympic Gamesmanship.

* How Does Simone Biles Have Such Incredible Balance?

* A Plea: Make Jousting An Olympic Sport.

* HBO's Real Sports: The Real (And Human) Cost Of The Olympics.

Trailer:

* Tribune: Chicago's Bid For 2016 Olympics Leaves Pricey Legacy 7 Years Later.

* Rio 2016: Athletes Warned To Keep Mouths Closed While In Feces-Infested Water.

* Russia Decision Muddies Legacy Of IOC President Thomas Bach.

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STOPPAGE: 3:16

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:53 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Alvvays at Wicker Park Fest on Sunday night.


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2. Ought at Wicker Park Fest on Sunday night.

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3. Drake with Kanye West at the big ol' arena on the West Side on Wednesday night.

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4. Jane's Addiction at the Metro for a Lollapalooza aftershow on Thursday night.

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5. M83 at the Vic for a Lollapalooza aftershow on Thursday night.

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6. Ne Obliviscaris at Reggies on Monday night.

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7. Black Crown Initiate at Reggies on Monday night.

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8. Potions at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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9. ADT at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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10. Mekaal Hasan Band at Schubas on Monday night.

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11. The Bourne Identity at House of Blues for a Lollapalooza pre-festival aftershow on Wednesday night.

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12. The Last Shadow Puppets at House of Blues for a Lollapalooza pre-festival aftershow on Wednesday night.

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13. Daughter at Thalia Hall on Wednesday night.

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14. Hog MaGundy at the Elbo Room on Tuesday night.

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15. Kris Kristofferson at RiverEdge Park in Aurora on Monday night.

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16. Collective Soul at Northerly Island on Tuesday night.

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17. Goo Goo Dolls at Northerly Island on Tuesday night.

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18. John Primer at SPACE in Evanston on Monday night.

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19. Diana Ross at Ravinia on Wednesday night.

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20. Bastille at the Vic for a Lollapalooza aftershow on Wednesday night.

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21. Major Lazer at the Aragon for a Lollapalooza aftershow on Thursday night.

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22. alonXoTheRebel at the Tonic Room on Wednesday night.

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23. Ted Nugent at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Thursday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Red Plastic Buddha at the Burlington last Saturday night.

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Acceptance for a Warped Tour aftershow at the Metro last Saturday night.

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Sykes in Tinley Park for the Warped Tour last Saturday.

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Whitechapel in Tinley Park for Warped last Saturday.

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Veils of Maya at Warped.

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Oceans Ate Alaska at Warped.

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Tonight Alive at Warped.

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Chelsea Grin at Warped.

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Sleeping With Sirens at Warped.

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The Interrupters at Warped.

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Reel Big Fish at Warped.

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Ice Nine Kills at Warped.

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From Ashes To New at Warped.

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State Champs at Warped.

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Less Than Jake at Warped.

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New Found Glory at Warped.

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The Color Morale at Warped.

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Sum 41 at Warped.

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Yellowcard at Warped.

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Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! at Warped.

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Good Charlotte at Warped.

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Marilyn Manson at the Open Air Fest in Bridgeview on July 17.

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Disturbed at Open Air on July 16.

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Deafheaven at Open Air on July 16.

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Bullet For My Valentine at Open Air on July 17.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:40 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Revolution Books

You say you want it.

revbooks.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:29 AM | Permalink

Corporate Democrats Have Always Hated The Left - Now They're Shocked To Learn The Left Hates Them Back

Since the 1970s, the American left has been on the defensive.

Facing both an increasingly ambitious business offensive against the core tenets of the New Deal and a Democratic Party establishment that was slowly beginning its rightward shift, progressive activists were pushed out of the mainstream, where they had remained a solid force during the Roosevelt era and through the 1960s.

These consequential shifts were, in large part, due to the changing composition of the Democratic Party's donor base - a base that moved away from union halls and into the lucrative embrace of corporate America.

To justify their rightward lurch, ambitious Democrats urged us to consider the dangers posed by, to use the words of former Northwestern and University of Illinois-Chicago professor Adolph Reed, "the relentless Republican juggernaut." Simultaneously, the party also became increasingly hostile toward those on their left, those who remained opposed to the corporate interests Democrats were attempting to attract.

"The administration is being run by the far right. The Democratic Party is in danger of being taken over by the far left," said Indiana Senator Evan Bayh in 2003, in a comment that captures quite well the posture of the Democrats of the 1980s and 1990s.

Looking to chart a new course - a "third way" - for liberals who were apathetic or even hostile toward organized labor and friendly toward organized wealth, the Democratic Leadership Council emerged as a powerful voice within the party's establishment, touting the benefits of "private-sector economic growth" and attempting to counter the perception that Democrats are the party of unions and "big government."

Coming to fruition with the election of Bill Clinton, DLC liberals have since held tremendous sway over the party's ideological trajectory - President Barack Obama, putting to rest any lingering hope that he is a leftist at heart, has touted his own position within the ranks of the New Democrats.

"As it stands," writes historian Lily Geismer, "the Democratic Party is much more than a repository of liberal values. It's a party that consistently favors its upper middle-class base in both presidential campaign platforms and its governing agenda."

But in 2016, in the face of unprecedented income inequality and rising anger against an impotent political establishment, a revolt has taken place, a revolt that has challenged the centrist bent of the party and forcefully argued that radical change is necessary to confront the deepest issues facing the United States and, indeed, the entire planet.

As Jedediah Purdy notes in a recent piece in the Atlantic, the 2016 presidential race has, in many crucial ways, been a referendum on "the Obama style" of politics, a major aspect of that style being his commitment to technocratic liberalism and market-based economics.

Purdy observes that, far from "lifting all boats," Democrats' commitment to growth-oriented capitalism has in many ways contributed to the already existing status quo, in which "a vast share of new growth in recent decades has gone to a tiny upper echelon of high-earners and to the already wealthy."

The campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, though vastly different in almost every way, have channeled the opposition to this new normal.

While Trump has used hysterical bigotry to exploit very real material anxieties, Sanders has offered an ambitious way forward, focusing largely on the growing gulf between the wealthiest and everyone else, and its horrendous consequences. To shrink this gulf, Sanders has put forward proposals previously favored (at least in word) by Democratic Party loyalists, from single-payer health care to the seemingly uncontroversial goal of getting corporate money out of politics.

For his efforts, Sanders has largely been repudiated by both the Democratic leadership and ostensibly liberal pundits, who went from carelessly dismissing Sanders's candidacy as a side-show to condemning his progressive movement from every possible angle.

Yet even after months of ridiculing Sanders and his supporters, Democratic politicians and pundits seem rather startled by the relatively mild resistance they are confronting not just outside the walls of the well-guarded Wells Fargo Center, the site of their corporate-funded convention, but also from inside the lavishly decorated arena, on the convention floor.

Even Bernie Sanders, one Beltway commentator marvels, cannot convince his supporters "roll over and play nice with the presumptive nominee."

The underlying assumption here is, of course, precisely the problem: Complacent Democrats have come to expect the left to "roll over and play nice" with any candidate they put forward, no matter how awful, given the alternatives. And in a system that operates in such a way as to virtually guarantee two-party dominance, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, the alternative is usually horrifying.

For years, this strategy worked. Democrats pointed to the Republicans, a party explicitly dedicated to the needs of the wealthiest, and that was sufficient to garner votes, no matter how reluctant.

Of late, though, as Thomas Ferguson has noted, voters have come to realize that Democrats, while they continue to pay fealty to progressive causes, have in many cases done as much harm to the vulnerable as the other side.

Now, Ferguson observes, "Increasing numbers of average Americans can no longer stomach voting for parties that only pretend to represent their interests." Polling data offers some support for Ferguson's assertion: One survey suggests that almost half of Sanders's millennial supporters "are thinking about backing a third-party candidate."

The 2016 revolt is in part a reaction against the system that Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page describe in their remarkable 2014 study, in which they conclude that "In the United States . . . the majority does not rule - at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose."

And that's the point: The people "generally lose," and they're tired of it. They see what's happening to them, to their kids, and to their communities, and they are no longer satisfied with the explanations of those who insist that everything is just fine.

Progressive activists have long been waiting for a candidate who represents their interests, a candidate who is willing to use the presidential primary process as a vehicle to drive key issues to the fore. They found that candidate in Bernie Sanders.

But by supporting Sanders in large numbers, progressives also brought to the fore a powerful faction within the political establishment - and within the media establishment - that is downright scornful of the mass politics Sanders' campaign has provoked.

So disconnected are they from the needs of the people, Democrats continue to peddle an ahistorical approach to change that eschews popular revolt in favor of what Matt Karp calls "fortress liberalism."

"Mass politics just does not compute with the professional-class worldview that suffuses today's Democratic Party," Karp writes. "For liberal elites, effective political struggle is something that happens inside committee rooms, not at strikes, rallies, or protests. (The Clinton campaign itself embodies this vision of the world, where politics means deal-making and democracy means voting - nothing less and nothing more.)"

This contempt for democratic action has emerged in full force as Sanders delegates refuse to pay complete deference to the norms of party politics on the floor of the usually euphoric and commercialized convention.

But instead of making a good-faith attempt to examine the material conditions from which this outrage against establishment politics emerged, prominent analysts have been content to gaze from their perches at the unserious rubes who don't understand the intricacies of political change.

Their comfortable position in the cultural hierarchy prevents them from seeing that, in fact, those they make a career of ridiculing understand political change better than anyone else.

People understand that they have been sold down the river by a party increasingly committed to the highest bidder - a party more interested in organizing seating arrangements at big-money fundraisers than in organizing the working class and fighting for economic justice.

They see that the party now expecting them to fall in line makes nice with war criminals and bankers, with CEOs and notorious despots.

They see that Democrats favor loyalty to the president over principled opposition to corporate "trade" pacts that threaten workers and the environment.

They see that, far from putting forward an agenda that matches the severity of the issues we face, Democrats are using fear - fear of Trump in particular - as their primary strategy.

They see that, as Hamilton Nolan puts it, "All is not well."

"The Democrats are supposed to be the party of the people, of the progressives, of the left," Nolan adds, "and yet the Democratic Party is roughly equivalent to a major corporation, operating with all of the ruthlessness and profit-driven mindstate that that implies."

Recognition of this fact has driven the left for decades, and the movements that have spawned in large part from opposition to insulated Democratic Party politics have made crucial progress.

Bernie Sanders did much to bring the left back into the mainstream, and electoral losses will not change this fact, as long as the conditions, the anxieties, and the crises facing American families remain unaddressed by the nation's dominant political parties.

Nor will the vitriol spewed by prominent journalistic outfits and Democratic Party loyalists be enough to dissipate the resurgent left. But it is enough to clarify an important point, one that Fredrik deBoer, among others, has made repeatedly: Elite liberals harbor a striking level of disdain for the left.

This year, thanks to those protesting both on the convention floor and in the streets, we have a voice (however limited) with which to say to the corporate liberals within the ranks of the Democratic Party: The disdain is mutual.

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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 12:34 AM | Permalink

Does Practice Make An Olympian? No.

We've all heard that "practice makes perfect." Is this true?

Some would unequivocally say "yes." In 1993, psychologist K. Anders Ericsson and colleagues proposed the deliberate practice view, which suggests that high-quality practice - deliberate practice - largely explains performance differences across people.

In other words, the theory holds that if "Person A" is an expert and "Person B" is mediocre, then the large difference in their performance levels is attributed to a similarly large difference in how much each has practiced. The primary evidence provided for this claim was that the "best" student violinists in the 1993 Ericsson et al. study had, on average, accumulated 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, which was more than the averages of the lower-skilled groups.

This research was the precursor to the 10,000-hours rule coined by Malcolm Gladwell in 2008. The 10,000-hours rule - that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert - is a widespread idea discussed in many pop psychology and self-help books.

The notion that we can become anything we set our minds to with hard work and determination is one many people embrace. People can make major life decisions based on this idea, from how to raise one's children to whether to quit one's job in pursuit of becoming a PGA-level golfer.

As the Olympics get underway in Rio, we might well wonder if we - or our children - could have been on a field of our dreams had we practiced until we were nearly perfect. As a psychologist and researcher who studies expertise, I have data from studies that suggest that practice is no guarantee of proficiency.

This is important not only as the Olympics get underway but also as school sports begin a new year. Is the goal for your child to have fun? Learn new techniques? Socialize? Or, is it so your kid can practice hard and receive the best training in order to become the next Tiger Woods or Serena Williams? If the goal is the latter, you may want to reconsider.

kjt.jpgHeptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson/John Silber of Reuters

My colleagues and I recently published a meta-analysis - an examination of effects across all relevant studies previously conducted on a topic - on deliberate practice and sports performance. We found that deliberate practice accounted for an average of only 18 percent of sports performance variance.

That is, when comparing higher-skilled athletes in a sport to less-skilled athletes in the same sport, practice explained only a minority of the differences in their performances.

While 18 percent is nothing to scoff at, it is a far cry from the idea that deliberate practice - training with the goal of improving - largely accounts for the variance in performance across athletes. It is also a far cry from the notion that an expert will emerge at the end of 10,000 hours of practice. Furthermore, it runs counter to the idea that starting earlier is better because higher-skilled athletes started their sport at about the same age as their less-skilled counterparts.

We also found the amount of explained performance differences by deliberate practice did not change significantly when considering different types of sports or athletes.

For example, deliberate practice explained similar amounts whether it was a ball sport or a nonball sport, or whether it was a team sport or an individual sport. The amount of explained performance variance was also similar when examining youth athletes and adult athletes.

One of the few significant factors to affect the outcome was skill level. When examining only elite athletes - those competing at the national, international and world championship or Olympic levels - the effect of deliberate practice was reduced to a scant one percent of the variance in performance. This result suggests that practice is necessary to reach a high level of performance, but that it does not distinguish the good from the great.

For example, the average professional tennis player and Serena Williams have probably practiced similar amounts and continue to train hard. Practice was an important factor for both these players in reaching the elite professional level. However, Serena Williams - the current dominant number one - is a much better tennis player than the average professional tennis player. At the elite level, differences in performance do not correspond to differences in the amount of practice.

If not practice, what?

boyd.jpgInjuries can sideline even the best of athletes, as Australian Alana Boyd knows/Lucy Nicholson for Reuters

Other factors that are likely to play a part include propensity to injury; personality traits like confidence; cognitive abilities that affect how quickly one processes or responds to information; and genes that affect physical traits such as height, percentage of fast/slow twitch muscles, maximum blood oxygenation level and how well a person's body responds to physical training.

Sports performance is complex. Identifying whether your child is on a road headed toward the Olympics or a road headed toward recreational enjoyment may not be easy. However, the evidence is clear that practice alone does not define the path.

This does not mean that parents, coaches and others who work with young athletes should discourage their charges from practicing. People should be able to make well-informed decisions about their time, effort and money.

If people believe that practice is the only important factor for expertise and have the goal of making their child a master athlete, they may be setting themselves - and their children - up for disappointment. If other kids keep performing better than their child, parents and their children may feel like failures and think, "I must not have tried enough. I must have given up too easily."

Instead, with evidence-based knowledge, parents can make decisions about which activities to pursue based on their children's abilities, traits, enjoyment and interest. If other kids keep performing better, it is an opportunity to assess whether the resources are worth the benefits to the athlete or whether something else might be more fulfilling.

In other words, if children are focused on only one activity in pursuit of becoming the best, they might miss out on finding the activities that better match their unique contributions. That is, they might not have a chance to discover or have time to pursue the area or areas where they could really excel.

If activities are pursued based on abilities, traits, enjoyment and interest, there is a better chance of effort translating to excellence. Knowledge of current scientific evidence - as opposed to only appealing notions from self-help and pop-psychology books - improves your ability to make decisions that lead to your children's best chances of success and lifelong satisfaction.

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Brooke Macnamara is an assistant professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

July 28, 2016

Leak Confirms DNC Aimed To Quash Reporters' Questions Over Sleazy Hillary Clinton Fundraising Scheme

The Democratic National Committee tried to hide the fact that Hillary Clinton's campaign allegedly benefited from a controversial joint fundraising project her team claimed was helping down-ticket candidates, according to leaked e-mails.

The e-mails, released last week ahead of the Democratic National Convention, are "validating concerns raised by campaign finance watchdogs, state party allies, and Bernie Sanders supporters" about the Hillary Victory Fund, write Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf.

For three months after concerns were raised about the fundraising venture, officials at the DNC and on Clinton's team were publicly defending the scheme, but privately working to shut down "questions raised by reporters, as well as Sanders' since-aborted campaign, about the distribution of the money."

State officials were urged to ignore questions about the transferring of money between the fund, state parties, and the DNC.

When Politico e-mailed Ohio Democratic Party communications director Kirstin Alvanitakis to inquire about the trajectory of two donations - which went from the Hillary Victory Fund to the Ohio party to the DNC within a day - Alvanitakis e-mailed the DNC stating, "I would prefer not to respond to this. There is no reason to share that level of strategic information with a reporter. Please let me know if you would like to proceed differently."

In another instance, the DNC's deputy communications director Eric Walker e-mailed a group of officials in late April:

Messages coming in from lots of state parties now.

He's asking about FEC reports that show transfers from state parties to the DNC of exact dollar amounts raised by the HFA / state party JFAs. So in other words, let's say HFA raised 300k for PA Dems . . . PA Dems sending that money back to DNC.

Clinton's allies have long claimed that the extravagant donations the committee solicited that paid for large portions of Clinton's presidential run also contributed to campaigns of down-ticket Democrats from 40 states - but in reality, those parties "kept less than one half of one percent of the $82 million raised" through the Hillary Victory Fund, Politico reports.

Vogel and Arnsdorf write:

The e-mails show the officials agreeing to withhold information from reporters about the Hillary Victory Fund's allocation formula, working to align their stories about when - or if - the DNC had begun funding coordinated campaign committees with the states. They also show one official blaming Sanders for putting the DNC between "a real rock vs hard place" by forcing "a fight in the media with the party bosses over big money fundraising."

The e-mails have scandalized the Democratic party and forced the ouster of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who came under particularly harsh scrutiny after it was revealed that the committee worked to sabotage Sanders' campaign from the beginning.

Federal Election Commission filings show that state parties who are engaged with the Hillary Victory Fund received $7.7 million since the fund's inception, but within a few days of most transfers, $6.9 million of that money went straight to the DNC in chunks of up to $300,000 at a time, Vogel and Arnsdorf report.

The only instance in which state parties received donations from the fund and didn't hand it over to the DNC was the day that Politico published a story in May exposing the setup.

In that case, state parties received $10,000.

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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 7:56 AM | Permalink

Set It And Forget It: How Default Settings Rule The World

We've seen how design can keep us away from harm and save our lives. But there is a more subtle way that design influences our daily decisions and behavior - whether we know it or not. It's not sexy or trendy or flashy in any way. I'm talking about defaults.

Defaults are the settings that come out of the box, the selections you make on your computer by hitting enter, the assumptions that people make unless you object, the options easily available to you because you haven't changed them.

They might not seem like much, but defaults (and their designers) hold immense power - they make decisions for us that we're not even aware of making. Consider the fact that most people never change the factory settings on their computer, the default ringtone on their phones, or the default temperature in their fridge. Someone, somewhere, decided what those defaults should be - and it probably wasn't you.

Another example: In the U.S. when you register for your driver's license, you're asked whether you'd like to be an organ donor. We operate on an opt-in basis: that is, the default is that you are not an organ donor. If you want to donate your organs, you need to actively check a box on the DMV questionnaire. Only about 40 percent of the population is signed up to be an organ donor.

20160727-organ-donation.jpgMagnus D/Flickr

In countries such as Spain, Portugal and Austria, the default is that you're an organ donor unless you explicitly choose not to be. And in many of those countries more than 99 percent of the population is registered.

A recent study found that countries with opt-out or "presumed consent" policies don't just have more people who sign up to be donors, they also have consistently higher numbers of transplants.

Of course, there are plenty of other factors that influence the success of organ donation systems, but the opt-in versus opt-out choice seems to have a real effect on our collective behavior - an effect that could potentially make the difference between someone getting a life-saving transplant or not.

Behavioral economist Richard Thaler and legal scholar Cass Sunstein pretty much wrote the book on the implications of defaults on human behavior. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness is full of ways in which default options can steer human choices, even if we have no idea it's happening.

Besides organ donation, the list of potential "nudges" include everything from changing the order of menu items to encourage people to pick certain dishes to changing the default temperature of office thermostats to save on energy.

But my favorite has to do with getting kids to eat their vegetables.

What if I told you there was one simple change you could make in a school cafeteria to get children to eat more salad? It doesn't cost anything, force anyone to eat anything they don't want, and it takes only a few minutes to fix. And it happened in real life: a middle school in New York moved their salad bar away from its default location against a wall and put it smack in the middle of the room (and prominently in front of the two cash registers, as seen in the diagram below). Salad sales more than tripled.

20160727-salad-bar.gifAAEA

You see the same effect when you change the placement of fruit in a lunchroom, or healthy snacks at the checkout counter.

Another example is from the realm of personal finance. Most Americans are pretty bad at saving money for the future, especially for that ambiguously defined golden yonder called "retirement." And the current defaults don't make it any easier. Many companies' retirement plans, like 401(k)'s, are opt-in: You have to hike over to HR and get enrolled, and sometimes you have to understand a bit about investing. But an alternative strategy has seen massive success: automatic enrollment. This means that employees are enrolled by default, unless they decide not to contribute. Research shows that under these circumstances, participation in 401(k)'s skyrockets and the retirement savings don't appear to cut savings in other accounts.

20160727-401k-chart.gifDCIIA

As an added bonus, unlike tax subsidies for contributing to your retirement savings, automatic enrollment programs cost the government nothing.

The same mechanism that gets so many people enrolled in the first place (it's the default) keeps them stuck at the low default contribution rate (often 3 percent). That's not much to be contributing year after year.

To combat the problem, many employers now implement automatic escalation, which means you agree upfront to raise your contribution by 1 or 2 percent every year. One variation of automatic escalation called "Save More Tomorrow" ties the increased contribution to your next pay raise, so you don't "miss" the money so much.

In a 2013 paper in Science, economist Thaler estimates that automatic escalation programs have boosted annual savings by $7.4 billion. Little defaults can add up to a lot of cash.

Defaults could also help get out the vote. Automatic voter registration would automatically sign up eligible citizens to vote when they interact with government agencies (say, to get their driver's licenses).

Instead of our current cumbersome and error-prone system that says you can't vote unless you register, this modern reform would default to registration unless you opt out.

Five states have already approved automatic voter registration measures and 24 more are considering legislation.

While some defaults might only come up once a year or on Election Day, others seep into our most mundane daily activities.

Take, for example, the default font of your favorite word processing program. For many, that's Times New Roman. It was not only the default font of Microsoft Word for many years, but since its early days as a newspaper typeface it has managed to infiltrate books, magazines, legal documents, high school essays, and almost every personal computer around the world. Times New Roman has permeated every crevice of textual society - so much so that Matthew Butterick, author of Typography for Lawyers, calls it the "default font of every­thing."

He goes on to say:

When Times New Roman appears in a book, document, or advertisement, it connotes apathy. It says, "I submitted to the font of least resistance." Times New Roman is not a font choice so much as the absence of a font choice, like the blackness of deep space is not a color . . . If you have a choice about using Times New Roman, please stop.

Of course, it didn't help that early web browsers also defaulted to rendering text in Times New Roman. The results left us with the canonical "early '90s web" that is so familiar today.

20160727-90s-sites.jpg

Times New Roman is not the only notoriously hated default. Much to the chagrin of designers everywhere, Adobe Illustrator's default font is Myriad Pro.

And don't even get chart makers on the subject of Excel default chart styles. More than one extensive blog post has been written about how to convert Excel's defaults to passable looking graphics.

Defaults can also reflect a legacy of attitudes we're not proud of. The default skin color, in things like "flesh-colored" band-aids and crayons, was long a light tan or peachy color - hardly a reflection of the diversity of human skin tones. More recently, the default images for emoji icons depicting humans had light skin tones, and only recently have other tones been available. The default is a cartoonish yellow (which is still controversial), but some smartphones now at least give people the option to pick their own default from a more diverse selection of colors.

Oftentimes, your default situation is determined by outside forces (the company you work for, the country you live in, Adobe's whims). But not always.

In many cases, you can change the defaults yourself. For example, designer David Kadavy suggests rearranging the icons on the home screen of your smartphone strategically. The trick is to bring forward the apps you want to use the most, not the ones you already use the most.

As Kadavy puts it: "If you design your world to make it hard to do things that are bad for you, and easy to do things that are good for you, your behavior will shape to that design."

You can probably imagine all the ways you could redesign the defaults around you to steer your own behavior. Rearrange the pantry to make junk food harder to reach. Put your running shoes by the bed so you see them first thing in the morning. Bury the Facebook app on your phone. Set up automatic deposits from your paycheck to a savings account so you don't have to remember to transfer money every month. Change the default font to anything but Times New Roman.

So what are you waiting for? Go on and change some defaults.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:16 AM | Permalink

The 2016 Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide Pt. 1: New World Order - The Top 20

It may be Chicago baseball rivalry week, but I think all Chicago baseball fans could use a distraction right about now. So let's start talking about fantasy football.

Fantasy football analysts have been predicting the devaluation of the top-tier fantasy RB for many years. Yet, year after year, many of us have ended up stacking our top 10 and top 20 rankings with RBs, so it sure seemed like RBs were more prized than ever. Perhaps we realized that rarity is a big part of what creates value.

But those days are over for many reasons, among them the rise of point-per-reception leagues, the evolution of the NFL into a passing league, and the fact that most NFL rosters now feature a much more evenly-talented 1-2 punch (or sometimes even a 1-2-3 punch) at RB.

Still for WRs to take over more of the top rankings from RBs, we need to see huge and highly consistent talent at the WR position.

We finally have it. With no further delay, my overall preseason top 20 fantasy football rankings:

1. Antonio Brown, WR, PIT.

All-world for the second straight season with a whopping 136 catches, 1,834 yards, 10 TDs, 114.6 YPG in 2015. No one thought he could better his 2014, but he did, and even while his starting QB missed a handful of games. Best stat: 10 games 100+ yards.

2. Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, NYG.

Yes, he dropped a few easy passes last season, and you can make an argument for the next two guys to be ahead of OBJ. But, he still is improving heading into his third season, suggesting 96 catches, 1,450 yards, 13 TDs, 96.7 YPG in 2015 is just a start.

3. Julio Jones, WR. ATL.

The only WR targeted more than 200 times last year tied Brown for most catches, and led the NFL with 1,871 yards and 116 YPG. If not for notching just eight TDs last year and ATL's tendency to feed its RBs near the end zone, he'd challenge for No. 1.

4. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU:.

Third in receptions with 111 and receiving yards with 1,521 despite having the worst QB among this top tier of WRs. If new HOU QB Brock Osweiler proves to be half-decent, Hopkins could run away with the receiving triple crown this year.

5. Todd Gurley, RB. LAR.

First RB at No. 5? Not everyone will agree, but that's how good the top tier of WRs are. Gurley's not bad either, as he proved with 1,106 rushing yards and 10 TDs in 13 games as a rookie. Fell off a bit late season, but heads a shrinking class of bell cow RBs.

6. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN.

Still led the NFL last year at age 30 with 1,485 rushing yards and 11 TDs. Should be easy for him to again play near top-tier RB level, but some dropoff has to be coming at 31. Guessing RB mate Jerick McKinnon will see a few more snaps.

7. David Johnson, RB, ARI.

One of the breakout stars of 2015 had 12 total TDs (eight running, four catching). His season didn't really start until December, when he was give the starting RB job, but small sample of 581 rushing yards and and 457 receiving yards suggest a great dual-threat.

8. A.J. Green, WR, CIN.

His 86 catches, 1,297 yards and 10 TDs were almost subpar for him, but he should get more targets and more end zone chances this year with CIN having lost two starting WRs to free agency and last year's TD savant TE Tyler Eifert on the mend from injury.

9. Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE.

Speaking of TE TD savants, Gronk's 1,176 yards and 11 TDs last year keep him in the top 10, though QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension, and the arrival of fellow TE Martellus Bennett could make me revisit this ranking in the coming weeks.

10. Allen Robinson, WR, JAC.

Entered 2015 as sleeper PPR threat, exited with sub-top-tier 80 catches, but tied for WR lead with 14 TDs, and managed 1,400 yards. JAC has another talented "Allen" in fellow WR Hurns, but thinking Robinson will earn his rep as a PPR artist this season.

11. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL.

RB class is thin enough that a rookie who figures to get a decent amount of work makes the top 19. May have to deal with Darren McFadden vulturing some chances, but DAL's O-Line is still great and Cowboys have leaned hard on their RBs lately.

12. Dez Bryant, WR, DAL.

Injuries limited him to nine games, and he stunk fantasy-wise in most of them, not catching more than five passes in any game, and surpassing 100 yards receiving just once, with three TDs. Yet, the talent is there for top 12 stats if he - and his QB - stay healthy.

13. Lamar Miller, RB, HOU.

Odd 2015 featured drop in rush yardage from 1,099 to 872 and yards per carry from 5.1 to 4.5, but increase in catches from 38 to 47 and receiving yards from 275 to 397, making him a better dual threat. Now in HOU, which keeps dual threat RBs very busy.

14. Le'Veon Bell, RB, PIT.

Would have made overall top 10, but in trouble again and might be suspended up to four games. Even if not, injury and suspension last year cost him 10 games, and despite 92.7 YPG and 4.9 YPC, he looked more second-tier than top-tier during his short season.

15. Brandon Marshall, WR, NYJ.

Tied for position lead in TDs with 14, surpassed 100 catches and 1,500 yards yet again. How is he this low? I actually like him more than most, but Jets' QB controversy isn't settled yet and he's 32. Still, I may move him up before draft day.

16. Jamaal Charles, RB, KC.

Two big injuries in last two seasons and rise of other RBs in KC lower his draft spot in my mind, yet average rushing YPC last five season is a strong 5.2, so he could still surprise with top-tier fantasy numbers.

17. Jordy Nelson, WR, GB.

Coming off a 2015 lost to major injury, so skeptics abound, but his QB loves him and GB's rich WR depth didn't amount to much in his absence. Another season of 1,500 yards and 10+ TDs seems possible, unless injury recovery slows him out of the gate.

18. Alshon Jeffery, WR, CHI:

Massively frustrating fantasy asset in 2015, as he only played nine games and was inconsistent, collecting 521 of his 807 total receiving yards in just four games. Still, those four games keep him in the discussion as a potential top-tier breakthrough.

19. Mark Ingram, RB, NO.

Most promising part of 12-game season was 50 catches for 405 yards, when no one thought he'd be targeted much in passing game. His 769 rushing yards were pedestrian, but that new dual threat status should boost his draft position.

20. Mike Evans, WR, TB.

2015 breakout candidate was considered a bust even though he collected 1,206 yards. The issue was his 74 catches on 148 targets showed how often he dropped passes. If he nears 100 catches this year, he could lead the league in receiving yards.

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Notably MIA from the top 20:

Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL: At some point last year, I surely called him the No. 1 overall player going into 2016. More than 1,500 total yards and 14 total TDs will inspire that, but he fizzled a bit near season's end, and ATL already has suggested some of his workload will be handed to RB mate Tevin Coleman.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN: The only WR with more than 100 catches last year who didn't make my top 20 actually had a down season, and comes back this year with either Mark Sanchez or rookie Paxton Lynch at QB. Too iffy for me, though could easily rebound with a Top 10 season.

Eddie Lacy, RB, GB: Everyone's heard about his off-season weight loss, which is promising and could make him a huge bargain if drafted after the second round. Maybe I'm still feeling too burned for trusting him last year, but I need to see a couple 100-yard games to put him any higher.

Cam Newton, QB, CAR: Stunning 2015 fantasy numbers with 3,803 passing yards, 636 rushing yards and 45 total TDs, but WR richness and need to draft a RB in Round 2 if not Round 1 push all QBs into at least Round 3 this year.

Matt Forte, RB, NYJ: No real surprise here, but worth mentioning since he was top five overall last year. Forte probably will be splitting carries more with the Jets than he did with the Bears. I think he's got another good season or two left in the tank, but Jets may not allow it to happen.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

July 27, 2016

The [Wednesday] Papers

Thursday note: The Papers will return sometime between now and Monday, possibly as The Weekend Desk Report.

An e-mail I sent to a Bernie-or-bust friend Tuesday:

"I would normally agree. I've never voted for a Clinton, nor an Obama, nor John Kerry or Al Gore. I hate Democrats. But this is different. Trump is not McCain, Romney or Bush. And while Clinton is horrible, she is, as someone whom I cannot remember right now said, "ordinarily bad," (I think it was Romney who said that), but Trump is a fucking Nazi. This is no longer Coke vs. Pepsi. It's a Nazi vs. a corporate, warhawk Democrat who will function within the system to the relative extent of all of our criminal presidents. Trump will not only be a daily Constitutional crisis, he'll destabilize the world economy, every aspect of American life, and unleash white militias everywhere. This is the moment. Indeed, voting for Hillary is about protecting people - including the Sanders people. This is the one time the argument against third-party voting is correct."

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Submitted by our very own Tim Willette, from New York magazine:

"So he wasn't worried about any fracturing of the party?, a reporter asked. 'I do not think there's any fracturing of the party,' Biden replied. 'I wish we could put something on every Sanders delegate walking into a booth,' by which he seemed to mean some sort of vote-tracking device. 'If we were able to find out, I bet you everything I have that hardly anyone is gonna pull the lever for Trump. Come on, man, are you kiddin' me? They're gonna show up! But look, they worked really hard! They did more to change the attitude in the party than anything that's happened in a long, long time. It's all for the better!"

My reply:

"Yup. He also said Dems should show a little more class and let Sanders people be angry. That's exactly right. Why treat them as a problem? Total horseshit."

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Oh, so now we're gonna worry about Obama's unprecedented worldwide spying regime.

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A lot of misunderstanding about this:

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And Al Gore never claimed he invented the Internet or discovered Love Canal. Etc. Etc., Iraq War.

Most of what you think is true isn't.

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Clintonism . . .

vs.

Trumpism . . .

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Have Obama's Ed Policies Weakened Dems?
Hint: Yes.

Language Arts: Groundswell
Nancy Simon returns to our pages to investigate the etymology behind a word experiencing itself.

Plea: Make Jousting An Olympic Sport
Steel armor and 12-foot poles, what's not to like?

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BeachBook

Author Sandra Cisneros Left Chicago After Rahm Dissed Her.

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Secret Offshore Deals Deprive Africa Of Billions In Natural Resources Dollars.

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TweetWood
A non-DNC sampling.

Sad!

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Maybe he was blackout drunk.

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The Daley family, on the other hand . . .

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Mmm, tronc line.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:35 AM | Permalink

Have Obama's Education Policies Weakened The Democratic Party?

PHILADELPHIA - Are you better off now than you were eight years ago? For the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the answer to this election question has to be a resounding 'No.'

Over the last decade-and-a-half, the union - which represents the city's public school teachers, nurses, counselors and support staff - has been nearly halved, its ranks shrinking from 21,000 to 11,000. Come election time, that means 10,000 fewer members to go door-to-door campaigning; 10,000 fewer people paying union dues to finance political ads and get-out-the-vote efforts.

While teachers unions have long played a key role in getting Democrats across the country into political office, the PFT's decline is the result of bipartisan policies.

Over the course of President Barack Obama's eight years in office, a coalition formed among his administration, governors, many of whom are Republican, and big city education reformers.

Together, they doubled down on former Republican President George W. Bush's education policies, pledging to turn around long-struggling urban school districts like Philadelphia's by holding schools accountable for their students' test scores.

If results didn't improve, officials could tap federal funds for turning around schools, to either close a school or transform it into a privately operated, publicly funded charter school, the vast majority of which employ non-unionized staff.

The Obama administration also, through its Race to the Top program, increased federal funding to promote the expansion of charters and touted charters like Mastery, Philadelphia's largest charter network.

Now, a third of Philadelphia's public school students attend charter schools and the union has withered, in a state that will be a key battleground this November. In Ohio, another key state, three in 10 public school students now attend charters in Dayton and in Cleveland.

As the Democratic Party gathers in Philadelphia for its convention this week, an open question is whether Obama's education policies weakened a key element of the party's political machinery - and whether Hillary Clinton, the presumptive presidential nominee, will continue the policies that did so.

Despite the PFT's huge membership losses, Hillary Linardopoulos, the legislative representative for the PFT, says that she doesn't think of her union as weakened, but energized in the face of threats.

"It's not that we have been weakened, but we have been under constant action," said Linardopoulos. "Look at what was happening in my classroom; I realized that I needed to become more politically active, got engaged in the political battle against [Pennsylvania's former governor, Republican Tom Corbett's] re-election bid . . . And it wasn't just me - our members saw so clearly what he had done to their working conditions and our students' learning conditions."

Elisabeth Heurtefeu, a former principal from Chicago, traveled to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this week to protest Clinton and support the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.

Linardopoulos points to recent Democratic victories in state and local elections as proof that PFT still is an important player.

"We fought to get a really progressive mayor, who campaigned on our platform of community schools," said Linardopoulos. "Our members spent evenings and weekends making phone calls and knocking doors."

"What I'm most proud of is our membership getting Helen Gym elected," she added, referring to a local progressive activist who won a seat on the city council last year. "And thanks to the work of Helen and rank-and-file teachers, education has become an issue that has defined recent election cycles. We had well over 1,000 members volunteering for Helen, 2,000 members out in the street for [Democratic Governor] Tom Wolfe on Election Day."

Ten thousand - the number of members the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has lost in the last decade-and-a-half.

Terry Moe, a political science professor at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think thank, argues that unions can't help but be weakened when they lose members.

"It's not good if you lose members; you are going to lose money and ground troops. But the connection between those things and political power is very unclear," said Moe. "It could help if teachers unions think of themselves as in crisis, that they have to do something. If they feel like charters are taking over, for example, they can increase the numbers of their members who are activist. I wouldn't be surprised if that is what's happening in cities where teachers see charters encroaching."

Moe says that from a national perspective, it's important to remember that charter schools remain relatively rare.

"Nationwide, charter schools enroll just 6 percent of students," said Moe. "Okay, yeah, Obama was a supporter of charter schools, but it's not like they've vastly expanded during his term. But in a small number of cities, the local unions there have taken a hit. Has this happened in New York City? No. New Orleans is an outlier, but in Washington, D.C., charter schools enroll half the kids and the union is very weak. The same dynamics are at play in Dayton, in Philadelphia. There are probably, eight or nine cities where charter schools have made a big factor."

At the national level, the two major unions - the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association - will surely continue to be among the biggest donors in this election cycle. Together, they've contributed $133 million since 1990 - 96 percent of which went to Democrats. So far this election cycle, the unions have spent $17 million and are poised to easily surpass the $19 million given during the 2012 election.

The nomination of teachers union darling Hillary Clinton, who was endorsed by both unions in her failed nomination fight with Obama eight years ago and then again in her primary battle with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders this year, is expected to help increase 2016 contributions.

But Phillip Dine, a labor expert and author of State of the Unions, thinks that the teachers unions' swift endorsement of Clinton is at odds with the mood of their members.

"I think that unions generally are on her side and I think that's going to lead to grassroots efforts on her behalf," said Dine. "That said, there's been a gulf between leadership endorsements and rank-and-file sentiment . . . That's especially the case in trade and manufacturing. And while teachers' jobs can't be exported, teachers have other issues with her, her relationship to special interests and her Wall Street ties."

Amy Roat, a teacher in Philadelphia and a leader in an activist caucus of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said she's reluctantly backing Clinton.

"We are uninspired," said Roat. "We endorsed Hillary Clinton before she went to the conference and said how great charters are. I'm going to hold my nose and vote for her . . . Democrats have let us down. I like our new Mayor [Jim] Kenney, but for him, too, show me the money. We are at a point where we are worried about potable water in schools and mold. We have beautiful parks downtown, but extremely underfunded schools."

"I think she's going to be like Obama," said Heurtefeu, the former Chicago principal. "I voted for him, who I've been disappointed with since he appointed Arne Duncan, who charterized Chicago public schools."

"Trump and Hilary are for privatization and school choice," she added. "I wanted kids who could be critical thinkers. They just want kids who can work at Walmart and the other big corporations that give them money."

Linardopoulos, of the PFT, thinks former Gov. Corbett, who authorized deep cuts to education, is the primary culprit behind the Philadelphia union's membership losses, not Obama, but she's hoping that a Clinton administration will take education policy in a different direction. Moe suspects that Linardopoulos's instincts are right.

"Obama is a union supporter, and Hillary Clinton is a union supporter, but when it comes to education Obama is a reformer and Clinton is not," said Moe. "Clinton is a teachers union candidate and Obama never was; he supported reforms the unions didn't like, and Clinton won't. She's their candidate and she won't do things they don't like."

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 AM | Permalink

A Plea: Make Jousting An Olympic Sport

LONDON - British enthusiasts have launched a bid for the ancient sport of jousting, in which riders in steel armor charge and try to knock each other off their horses with a 12-foot pole, to be made an Olympic sport.

Long a feature of themed medieval fairs, jousting deserves to be recognized as a "Western martial art" and added to the roster of Olympic events, said professional jouster Dominic Sewell.

"You can see jousts from Russia to Australia to Western California," Sewell, suited up in chain mail, told Sky TV on Thursday.

"It's becoming a truly international sport and that's why we are calling for it to be recognized on an Olympic level."

Jousting.JPG

Sewell is backed by English Heritage, a charity that curates 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites, and has launched an online petition to promote jousting ahead of the Rio Olympics.

Medieval knights turned to jousting to showcase their strength, skill and horsemanship, with the first tournament held in 1066 and similar spectacles patronized by King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.

Encounters often ended in injury or death - including of French King Henry II in 1559 - but the hollow lances used nowadays are designed to shatter on impact, reducing the risks.

Sewell said jousting combines the demands of the Modern Pentathlon with the horsemanship of other equestrian events already on the Olympic roster. He described his armor as "personal protection equipment - it just happens to be made of steel."

It would take years, however, for jousting to be considered for inclusion in the Summer Games.

First it would have to be recognized as an Olympic sport and then scrutinized for a period of at least seven years. A recognized international jousting federation would need to be established and world championships held.

While no new sports have been added for Rio, baseball and softball, karate, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing have been recommended for inclusion at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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Beachwood bonus material.

Full Contact Jousting!

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Best Joust Ever.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

Language Arts: Groundswell

There's a popular contemporary song by the musical artist Andra Day entitled "Rise Up," in which Day sings "You're broken down and tired of living life on a merry-go-round and you can't find the fighter, but I see it in you so we gonna walk it out and move mountains . . . I'll rise up, I'll rise like the day, ooh, ooh, ooh."

Those words help connote the sentiment behind a term that has taken center stage at a time when society has become tired of the status quo, frustrated with elected officials, angry at law enforcement officers, and anxious for change.

If you had to encapsulate in a singular word what the lyrics of "Rise Up" are trying to relay - that there is a fresh idea, a new movement, rapidly gaining momentum that offers promise and hope and the opportunity to move in a new direction away from all things Establishment - you are likely to hit upon the word groundswell.

As defined by Merriam-Webster, our tried and true authority on all things etymological, groundswell means: "A fast increase in the amount of public support for something (such as a political cause or candidate.)" Or, as a second, equally good option: "A rapid spontaneous growth (as of political opinion), e.g., a groundswell of public support."

Dating back to the year 1786, before our nation even had its first president, sailors coined this term as a reference to a deep ocean swell.

According to Alden Harwood at Worldwide Words, it was not until the start of the 19th century that groundswell took on a more figurative use that conjured up thoughts of social or political agitation.

For some, that may associate groundswell with negative activity. Yet, in today's society, groundswell has been attributed to a host of grassroots, advocacy-inspired movements, e.g., Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders' "Feel the Bern" devotees. While high-spirited activism has accompanied both of these examples, the overriding mission is to be a platform for under-recognized groups, and a medium for building change.

In such and numerous other instances, alluding that something has a groundswell of support is not to say that there's been a disturbance or uprising (which also bring about a negative image frequently involving violence and/or confrontations with authority figures). Au contraire, in our contemporary times, a groundswell can indicate a strong movement afoot with intentions to deliver clarity, not chaos.

Thus, rather than act in a destructive manner and lack a clear and unified message, a groundswell harkens the image of a powerful coalition that, as it inches forward, continues to attract increasing numbers of supporters from broad cross-sections of society.

Take for example, some of the media's recent uses of the word groundswell:

  • In April, a Washington Post commentary noted, "The groundswell of American anger has sustained the unexpected presidential candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Both candidates have pledged political revolutions - albeit of very different forms - to 'make America great again.'"
  • In June, a CBS News commentary chided Donald Trump for "squandering yet another opportunity" - saying that perhaps Trump doesn't really want to win the presidency but instead just "got caught off guard by the groundswell of support his candidacy provoked."
  • In July, a Reuters commentary posited that Hillary Clinton's ascendant nomination was "against a background of largely female protests about abortion rights and other women's health issues that both the midterms and then the 2016 presidential campaign will be fought. Having been beaten into second place by Barack Obama, there is a groundswell of support for Hillary Clinton among women of both parties. There is a sense, particularly among older women, that since we have now elected an African-American to the White House, it is time the United States elected a woman president."

The term's popularity is not just limited to national politics. Take, for example, the Groundswell Festival, which has been held since 2011 in Hossegor, France, combines surfing, music and eco-sensibilities to attract scores of hip and adventure-seeking enthusiasts. Separately, the GroundSwell Music Festival is marking its second anniversary this November in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Closer to home, in New York City, the non-profit organization Groundswell (est. 1996) describes itself on its website as "a group of New York City artists, educators, and activists . . . with the belief that collaborative art-making combines the sanctity of personal expression with the strength of community activism - and produces unique and powerful outcomes."

With the plethora of mentions and uses that have sprung up for groundswell, there may just be a groundswell of support for the word itself.

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Previously in Language Arts:
* Pushback.

* Locavore.

* Going Rogue.

* Rebalancing.

* Poor.

* Collective Bargaining.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:02 AM | Permalink

July 26, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

This is the issue; we can lock up Hillary later.

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But the narrative!

Bernie supporters on the floor - and in the precincts - are pissed. And they should be. Besides, the DNC e-mail leak showing the game was indeed rigged, they are as opposed to Hillary as they would be, say, Mitt Romney or John McCain. A lot of charts like this are going around (there's a better one, but I couldn't find it; if you know the one I mean, send it to me!), they explain why:

berniechart.jpg

So it's understandable - and even appropriate - that there's a lot of discord (even rage) on the convention floor. So be it. That's what conventions are for, even if journalists thinking through the prism of political strategists instead of journalists think they should be exercises in unity. You want a lockstep piece of pre-determined theater? You want to cover a three-day commercial instead? Cover the divisions as they are - based on the issues and on institutional corruption - and not on the cynical calculations of a lot that has lost their way.

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Remember, the concern trolling of conservatives is just that: trolling.

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Hint, hint.

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Yes, I love the grace of their kill lists, drone wars, unprecedented attacks on journalists and whistleblowers, and worldwide spying regimen the likes of which the planet has never before seen. At least they're funny on late-night talk shows while ignoring the poor and chatting up their banker friends.

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*

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Obama Sold Access For Cash
Pay to say.

Aboard The Dethloon Express
One man's perilous journey to the heart of Minnesota Nice.

Field Finds World's Freakiest Island Of Animals
Where the small species have become big, and the big species have become small.

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BeachBook

Documents Raise Disturbing Questions On Detainee Abuse Under Obama.

But I'm going to miss his grace and compassion!

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Oil Lobby Paid Washington Post And The Atlantic To Host Climate-Change Deniers At RNC (And Will At DNC Too).

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The Greatest Country That Ever Was.

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Viking Ship Sailing Great Lakes Getting Conquered By U.S. Regulations.

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How To Live Your Life Like A Horny Male Writer Is Profiling You.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Keep troncin'.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:06 PM | Permalink

DNC Leak Reveals Party Insiders Promised Obama Access In Exchange For Cash

Potential wealthy donors to the Democratic National Committee were courted with promises of access to the president, a Washington Post analysis of internal DNC e-mails released by WikiLeaks has found. The party insiders' pitches appear to be in violation of White House policy, the newspaper notes.

On Monday, the Post reported:

"The DNC e-mails show how the party has tried to leverage its greatest weapon - the president - as it entices wealthy backers to bankroll the convention and other needs. At times, DNC staffers used language in their pitches to donors that went beyond what lawyers said was permissible under a White House policy designed to prevent any perception that special interests have access to the president.

"Top aides also get involved in wooing contributors, according to the e-mails. White House political director David Simas, for instance, met in May with a half-dozen top party financiers in Chicago, including Fred Eychaner, one of the top Democratic donors in the country, the documents show."

On at least one occasion, a White House lawyer asked DNC employees to alter the language of an invitation to a high-dollar event so it would not appear to be soliciting donations in exchange for access to President Barack Obama - demonstrating that employees were made aware of the policy.

"Let's remove the word round table on page 2 at the top ('$33,400 - Round table discussion guest'). As you know, WH policy restricts the use of language that gives the appearance that contributors can pay for policy access to the President," Ruthzee Louijeune, an associate at Perkins Coie LLC, wrote to a DNC staffer in reference to a May event featuring Obama.

The Post noted, however, that "the e-mails show several instances in which DNC fundraisers pitched donors with promises of a 'roundtable' chat with Obama. On May 6, the southern finance director emailed ­Cockrum, [a] Tennessee donor, about packages available for the Philadelphia convention."

The newspaper continues:

"If [you] were willing to contribute $33,400 we can bump you up a level to the Fairmont," [the southern finance director] wrote, referring to a luxury hotel. "Additionally, your generous contribution would allow you to attend a small roundtable we are having with President Obama in DC on May 18th or a dinner in NYC on June 8th."

On the afternoon of the event, the place of honor, at Obama's side, went to New York philanthropist Phil Munger. Kaplan noted to Shapiro in an e-mail that Munger was one of the largest donors to Organizing for Action, a nonprofit group that advocates for Obama's legislative agenda.

"It would be nice to take care of him from the DNC side," Kaplan wrote, adding: "He is looking to give his money in new places and I would like that to be to us."

The Democratic Party collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single dinner with the president. On May 24, an e-mail with the subject line "Daily Number" gave the donation tally at that point for a June 8 dinner in New York, hosted by venture capitalist and Huffington Post co-founder Kenneth Lerer, with the president in attendance:

Guests 48

Committed
$143,400

In Hand
$576,113

Total
$719,513

Not only does the DNC appear to be pitching access to the president in exchange for donations, a McClatchy investigation on Thursday also revealed that large-ticket donors often demand such special favors. It also found that DNC insiders attempted to find ways to appease such donors - occasionally arguing about which donor deserved a reward more.

McClatchy reports:

In one exchange, National Finance Director Jordan Kaplan and Mid-Atlantic Finance Director Alexandra Shapiro argue which contributor should be allowed to sit next to Obama at a DNC event.

Kaplan told Shapiro to move Maryland ophthalmologist Sreedhar Potarazu and give the seat to New York philanthropist Philip Munger because he is the largest donor to Organizing for America, a group that pushes Obama's policies."It would be nice to take care of him from the DNC side," Kaplan wrote.

But Shapiro explained that the Potarazu family had contributed $332,250 while Munger had only donated $100,600.

Both the DNC and the Republican National Convention have "stepped up their hunt for huge checks since a series of legal changes in 2014 gave them leeway to collect expansive contributions for new accounts to pay for building, legal and convention expenses," the Post observes.

The Post reports that in addition, in 2015 "the DNC, in consultation with Clinton's campaign, also decided to reverse a ban on donations from the PACs of corporations, unions and other groups."

Former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who announced her resignation on Sunday after the leak revealed the DNC favoring Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign over Bernie Sanders', actively solicited large donations from super PACs and lobbyists after the new rules were established.

"After those limits were lifted," the newspaper continues, Schultz "and other top party officials showered corporate lobbyists with calls, e-mails and personal meetings seeking convention support and PAC contributions to the party, according to a spreadsheet logging the contacts."

And the resulting donations have been quite significant - particularly when it came to funds solicited to pay for the party convention in Philadelphia. The Post writes:

The top-tier donor package for this week's Democratic National Convention required a donor to raise $1.25 million or give $467,600 since January 2015, according to a document in the e-mails. In return, a contributor got booking in Philadelphia at a premier hotel, VIP credentials and six slots at "an exclusive roundtable and campaign briefing with high-level Democratic officials," according to the terms.

Those perks were aggressively pushed to donors this spring as DNC staffers worked to try to pay for the party's share of the convention, a tab that had been covered by public funds in previous years.

The DNC also appeared to look for ways around the remaining rules that limited donations, in search of more contributions: "When Pietrzak, who had already given his annual maximum to the party, expressed interest in attending the May 18 event with Obama," the Post notes, "a party staffer responded to her colleague: 'No chance of getting more $ out of them, is there? Push the convention packages as an incentive?'"

Such revelations appear to confirm the argument that relying on large donations from wealthy individuals and large corporations inevitably leads to corruption of the political process. Indeed, both Sanders and Green Party presumptive presidential nominee Jill Stein have condemned the DNC's fundraising practices and called for campaign finance reform:

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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 7:16 AM | Permalink

Field Museum: Phillipine Island Has More Freaky Mammals Than Anywhere Else On Earth

We're taught that evolution is all about "survival of the fittest." But that's not always the case. In fact, sometimes evolution can be the result of a lucky animal finding "any port in a storm." And the finding that Luzon, an island in the Philippines, has the greatest concentration of unique mammals in the world - even more than Madagascar - is the perfect example.

Islands are often examples of an evolutionary free-for-all, where a newly introduced species may find themselves in the perfect situation, whether that's a new and different type of habitat and resources or even a complete lack of competitors and predators. Being introduced to an island ecosystem can turn a rather mediocre mainland species into a weird and wonderful new creation.

Examples of species found on one island and nowhere else (known as island endemics) can be found almost anywhere we look. The lemurs on Madagascar are found nowhere else on Earth; the Galapagos islands are home to flightless cormorants and aquatic iguanas; and there are even quirky examples of island species from across the British Isles such as the Scilly shrew or the Orkney vole.

However, islands are not just a melting pot for new species - they're also responsible for some rather strange adaptations, often allowing species to develop physically in ways that we would never expect to see in their mainland counterparts. This is maybe best shown by the "island rule" which, when all the complicated bits are stripped away, means that small species become big and big species become small.

For proof of this, just look at the dwarf elephants which once lived in the Mediterranean or even dwarf humans in Indonesia. At the other end of the scale, consider how tortoises from Madagascar and Ecuador washed up in the Seychelles and the Galapagos respectively and thrived as giants.

turtle.jpgTake a normal tortoise. Remove predators. Give lots of food. Leave for 5m years/Shutterstock

Luzon Laboratory

It seems islands are nature's evolutionary laboratories, the places where natural selection runs wild. But even between islands, some are more spectacular than others. Scientists from the Field Museum in Chicago have just published a study where they looked for the world's greatest concentration of unique mammal species.

It turns out that Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, holds this honorable prize. Their 15-year study concluded that out of 56 species of mammals (not including bats) on the island, a staggering 52 were found to be endemic. With 93% of its non-flying mammals found nowhere else on Earth, Luzon is a biological treasure trove.

But if all islands are special for the development and emergence of new species, then what makes Luzon more special? The team puts it down to the island's size - at more than 40,000 square miles, it's larger than Cuba or Iceland - and because it has never been connected to the mainland.

With lots of space (in different habitats) and across lots of time, Luzon has given any colonizing animals just the right ingredients to adapt and evolve into new species. For animals that swam across from other islands or were swept over on rafts of mangroves or palm trees, it was the perfect opportunity not only to adapt into new species themselves but then for these new species to diversify into yet more species.

mouse.jpgThis long-whiskered 'tree mouse' is found on Luzon - and nowhere else/Larry Heaney, The Field Museum

Even within this one island, high, forest-covered mountains then acted as "sky islands" - separate ecosystems cut off from the land below, with different evolutionary pressures. This in turn increased the likelihood for even further species diversity. From unusual mice that mainly hunt and eat earthworms, to other rodents with long elegant whiskers stretching the entire length of their bodies, Luzon is an incredible example of island evolution.

Sadly, the fragile nature of these ecosystems often means island species are often threatened with extinction. In the Galapagos, introduced goats outcompete tortoises for food, while snakes accidentally taken to Guam, where the birds had never seen a snake before, are destroying the fine balance of island ecosystems there. With pollution and hunting and the ever-increasing threat of climate change all also taking their toll, maybe nowhere are conservation efforts needed more than when dealing with unique island species.

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Ben Garrod is a Fellow in Animal & Environmental Biology 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 6:48 AM | Permalink

July 25, 2016

Breakfast In America: Aboard The Dethloon Express

Last Wednesday, I fulfilled a 10-month/lifelong dream and attended the AFC Bournemouth-Minnesota United friendly in Blaine, Minnesota. Here is my trip report.

Rough Itinerary: Metra/Blue Line to O'Hare, Spirit Airlines to Minneapolis, Blue Line light rail to hotel, Blue Line/bus to bar, fan bus at bar to game.

5:44 a.m.: I wake up one minute before the alarm. Everything is going to go so smoothly today. For turning off the alarm before it wakes up a spouse, don't you get marital karma points or something?

6:10 a.m.: Transportation in the form of my father-in-law arrives.

6:15 a.m.: Arrive at train station in plenty of time for 6:33 a.m. train.

6:20 a.m.: Train arrives. Nice, the train is early. This is going to be a grand day.

6:50 a.m.: Mentally note all the people who did not quite make the train. Man, what a pisser.

6:51 a.m.: Wait. Crap.

6:52 a.m.: I'm on the EXPRESS train that does not stop at Jefferson Park. I'm a dolt.

6:54 a.m. Train conductor: "Where are you going?" Me: "Jefferson Park, but I'm on the wrong train." Conductor: "You are on the wrong train. You need to switch at Clybourn."

7 a.m.: Intercom "Next stop Clybourn."

7:04 a.m.: Train pauses but passes Clybourn. Intercom: "Next Stop Ogilvie Station."

7:30 a.m.: Board northbound train.

7:50 a.m.: Arrive at Jefferson Park and transfer to Blue Line.

8:05 a.m.: Wait, I forgot to print my boarding pass. Damn it, Spirit charges $10 for that. Those bastards!

8:15 a.m.: Watch gentleman attempt to balance on left foot while train is moving, only to repeatedly stumble back. Too pissed off at Spirit to record the inevitable injury. Disappointingly, he exits at Rosemont without incident.

8:20 a.m.: Check in at kiosk. Worst fears unfounded. Also, Spirit prints "TSA Precheck" on my boarding pass. I love Spirit!

8:21 a.m.: Damn it, middle seat. I hate Spirit.

8:45 a.m.: Approach gate agent. "If I want a better seat, can I pay you for that?" Agent puts me in 2F. I love Spirit!

9:30 a.m.: Plane finally boards around expected departure time. I hate Spirit.

9:35 a.m.: It's pretty clear this is a fairly empty flight. I hate Spirit even more.

9:55 a.m.: Push back from gate.

11:15 a.m.: After taxiing O'Hare roughly four times because of "weather between here and Minneapolis" and "waiting in line" and "switching runways" we finally take off. I hate O'Hare more than Spirit.

12:15 p.m.: Land at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

12:35 p.m.: Find (Other) Blue Line stop at airport. Try to buy "Go Card," but machine eats my $20. I drop a few F bombs. Somewhere a Ventra employee earns his wings.

12:55 p.m.: Reach American Boulevard stop. Damn, it's hot. To cope, I stop believing in global warming and suddenly it feels like 74.

1 p.m.: Check into Hyatt Place. Buy two bottles of water, thinking "HEY, I'm going to be drunk when I get back."

1:05 p.m.: Hey, nice room! Wait, it's a little hot in here, too. Discover air temp controls are of the old-timey analog "Lo Cold/ Hi Cold" nature. I summon more cognitive dissonance about global warming.

1:45 p.m.: After lunch, take refreshing shower.

1:50 p.m.: Wait, it's not very cool in here yet. I call on climate-change deniers to explain the heat away.

2:10 p.m.: Call front desk. Male attendant states somebody will be up "ASAP" to look at it. I figured the right answer is "Let's switch rooms." I wait a moment to think about how sunspots are the real cause of global warming.

2:25 p.m.: Manager greets me at front desk. She immediately arranges a new room. Guy sulks in background. He's probably one of those climate alarmists I read so much about.

2:40 p.m.: Depart for (other) Blue Line. How is it even hotter? Good thing the manager gave me this bottle of water for free. Because I'm pretty sure global warming was invented by the Illuminati to suck the sun's power away through massive solar panels.

2:55 p.m.: Train arrives. Wait, I have my previous ticket allowing me a free transfer, so I went right in. Weird. What a friendly mass transit policy.

3:15 p.m.: Arrive at Riverview stop to transfer to bus. Look for Route 22 Northbound. I am very confused with the 22B bus that arrives. Bus driver is a little fed up with my repeated questions about being on the right bus. [Editor's Note: He doesn't understand you are suffering from Post-Traumatic Wrong Train Syndrome, and will be for the rest of your life.]

3:18 p.m.: It's pretty apparent I'm on the right bus. My stop is the first stop.

3:19 p.m.: Try to enter the Nomad World Pub, which sponsors the Dethloon Express. Minnesota United is also known as the Loons, the state bird. Person picking up cigarette butts informs me that both daytime bartenders are on vacation and they will not open until 4. He recommends The Acadian, which is a block away. By now, it's so hot I need to start blaming libtards for their "Commie global warming talk" to keep from sweating through my shirt.

3:25 p.m.: Walk in and discover two genuine Bournemouth fans, Steve and Roz, complete with accents! I know Steve from the AFCB message board I frequent.

3:26 p.m.: More importantly, I order a beer. I want a Summer Shandy or a simple pilsner. This place does not believe in such silly things. But the Acadian set-up reminds me a bit of the Beachwood Inn. And that makes me sad. I sample two beers with descriptions that are too long for me to care about. The Beachwood used to serve Point in bottles, and that would have made me happy.

3:50 p.m.: I get the same beer again, not because I loved it but because I really don't want to hear two more descriptions.

4:15 p.m.: We go to the Nomad World Pub. Thankfully, it's now open. Four MN United fans are in already. We received some friendly dirty looks.

4:20 p.m.: Though I still want a Summer Shandy or pilsner, they have lagers and something called a "Ginger Shandy." They sure are friendly beer snobs.

4:25 p.m.: Steve and Roz talk about how friendly Americans are. For instance, they share a story about stranger who offered them a place to stay overnight in Wisconsin. I didn't have the heart to tell them about Wisconsin's serial killer problem.

5 p.m.: One of the Dethloon Express leaders announces "Welcome! We leave at 5:30 p.m. We'd also like to welcome our guests today. We're cool before the game and after the game, but during the game, we are not cool." Everybody laughs, in that "Shucks, you know we are friendly, right?" sort of way.

5:10 p.m.: One of the regulars introduces himself and talks about his favorite EPL club, Tottenham. Adele supports Tottenham. That is why she is so, so, so sad.

5:30 p.m.: Bus leaves. It's a yellow school bus. First song after the free beers are handed out: "We're drinking on a bus and you're not." Well done.

5:40 p.m.: 95-degree day plus yellow school bus vinyl seats equals removal of epidermis from back of my legs.

6:10 p.m.: Steve and Roz are especially enamored with all the songs until "When The Loons Come Marching In." AFCB's rival, Southampton, sings the same melody. Steve and Roz immediately start booing. Some of the MN U fans are slightly offended. So after a short break, they sing it again.

6:30 p.m.: We arrive. A Dethloon regular invites us to the pregame "picnic," which consists of two picnic tables and two coolers of beer.

6:35 p.m.: Steve: "We could never do this in England. That is great!"

6:36 p.m.: I point out a young guy wearing mirrored sunglasses and a Southampton jersey. Steve: "Wow, he even looks like a Southampton fan. He looks . . . looks very . . . " Me: "I think in America we would say 'douche.'" Steve agrees. I ask Steve if he wants to talk to him. Before I finish the question, he says "No." That's why they can't do this in England.

6:40 p.m.: More people come up to Steve and Roz. Earlier, Roz expressed concern with where to get in, so I lurk about. Just before exiting the current conversation, a new person wants to interview them. I walk away for a bit and find them answering the same questions. Steve and Roz politely answer them once again, but I can tell they are being a little robotic.

6:50 p.m.: We walk in just time for some quick food. I buy a bratwurst with sauerkraut. I add mustard. Three others add ketchup and relish to theirs. They might be friendly, but their condiment selection has much to be desired.

6:58 pm We all stand for the national anthems, starting with England's. Two Loons fans put their hand to their heart. Either they are really friendly or the Loyalist threat still remains.

7:10 pm Minnesota United is so friendly they have their goalkeeper throw the ball into his own net. They sure know how to make a club feel welcome!

7:45 p.m.: Just before whistle I head toward the other goal. On my way, I spot Bournemouth player (and Chelsea loanee) Nathan Ake being escorted by MU staff. Two other neutral fans stop him for pictures. The staffer asked Ake "How long have you been a Bournemouth fan?" Ake: "I actually play for Bournemouth." After our picture, I say "Isn't this better than Chelsea?" Ake laughs nervously. I forget to drop my "Chelsea fans kill puppies" line. Dammit.

7:47 p.m.: I almost immediately run into Steve and Roz. They said "It's hard to watch the game because everybody wants to talk to us." They are smiling, but their eyes appear to be slightly wearied.

7:50 p.m.: I get a halftime snack and field AFCB questions from an MU fan. As expected, he's friendly. Ugh. Would somebody talk a little trash, please?

8:20 p.m.: I've grown tired of the friendliness. I stand in the lawn between the two MU supporter sections. A neutral fan keeps yelling "Pass it to Gradel!" mispronouncing his last name.

8:25 p.m.: In the corner, Gradel and an MU player go toe-to-toe after a hard tackle. Both head-butt each other slightly. Both are sent off. Finally, some unfriendliness.

8:26 p.m.: The MU supporter section sings "You'll be relegated, you'll be relegated." Finally. That's more like it.

9:15 p.m.: On the trip back, we run into typically friendly Minnesota friendly. A three-mile backup develops because everybody refuses to use the zipper merge. Yes, friendliness is bad sometimes.

9:45 p.m.: Steve and Roz talk me into having "one more." Steve hands me a beer, while he is held up at the bar. This leave me with a beerless Roz.

10 p.m.: Steve: "People here are friendly." It's said in a part matter-of-fact and part exasperated tone.

10:05 p.m.: I can tell Steve, Roz and I are "talked-out." Two separate MU fans approach the table in a pincer-like movement. The nearest one to me wants to talk about EPL club Arsenal. I want to talk about how much I dislike that team, but there is a problem: He's much too friendly.

10:30 p.m.: Both fans leave. I wish to converse with Steve and Roz, but I'm afraid that if I stay longer, more MU fans will stop by with more stifling friendliness. So after some goodbyes, I depart. Usually, I express thankfulness for the beer and comraderie, but Steve and Roz need some rudeness to restore their faith in humanity.

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Beachwood Sabermetrics: Based on all historical data available from the beginning of time, soccer is more fun to watch when fans are not so friendly.

Sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid: England hired "Big" Sam Allardyce for their dumpster fire of a national team. This also improves Sunderland's chances of relegation. Hull City's manager Steve Bruce also resigns. But given the size of both men, this news causes the sugar futures market to plummet based on oversupply concerns. Because like me, they are pretty fat.

Population of the Cherry Nation: Four, up one from last week. Me, my high school friend who lives in Montana, the new Bournemouth signing American Emerson Hyndman (who didn't play at MN), and a guy in Florida.

Percent sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid: This Week: 100%. Last Week: 100%/0%.

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Previously in Breakfast In America:
* Which EPL Team Are You?

* Know Your Terminology.

* Lowest Common Denominator™.

* Recruitment Do's And Don'ts.

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Breakfast In America on Facebook.

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Breakfast proprietor Eric Emery welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:41 AM | Permalink

No Longer Lovable

As the Cubs inch closer to September, the biggest "deal" there is out there is what they are going to do at the trade deadline. Or, what more they are going to do at the deadline as they made a deal for some bullpen help already with Mike Montgomery. The move that seems like it's a done deal involves the Cubs picking up Aroldis Chapman, he of the 30-game suspension for violation of the league's domestic violence policy (he wasn't criminally charged due to "conflicting stories and a lack of cooperation from all parties involved."

To some Cub fans, acquiring Chapman goes against the "good time" vibe of the present-day Cubs, a bunch of mostly young kids holding dance parties after wins and wearing pajamas on road trips at the behest of their favorite uncle, who happens to manage the team.

Chapman and the Cubs sure don't seem like a good fit, do they?

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been all about "character guys," starting with bringing Anthony Rizzo here in January 2012, just months after arriving themselves. But we have to remind ourselves that the Cubs are in a whole different world now. Just look at the Wrigley Field, no longer the lovable little ballpark nestled in a neighborhood. Nope. Now it's one cog in the Rickettsville money machine.

Lots of modest yet memorable landmarks (the McDonald's!) are gone or going, to be replaced with modern structures designed to make sure the already ultra-rich Ricketts family vacuum every nickel out of your pockets as possible.

Lovable losers are gone. So too, now, are lovable winners. Now it's just about winning.

So you can be torn if you like on welcoming a not-so-nice guy to the team, but management doesn't much care. They no longer have to sell lovable. They have reached their goal: to be a winning machine that makes an assload of money.

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Week In Review: The Cubs went 4-2, taking two of three from the hated Mets and two of three from the not-really-so-hated Brewers. I was at Miller Park on Saturday night, and I sweated out that loss with a lot of wet, smelly Cub fans. It was nice to see some Brewer fans there as well. But I have to say that if I was a Brewer fan, I would have stayed home and caught the next series. Even I was tired of all the Cub love after awhile.

Week In Preview: The boys in blue stay in town for the Crosstown Classic, jumping on the Red Line to play two at the Cell then "coming home" for two more at Wrigley. Maybe they'll wear some throwback jerseys in honor of Chris Sale on Thursday, when he should be starting. Oh, and the Mariners come to town this weekend as well. Time to get fat on some bad teams.

Musical Outfielders: And no we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. Willson Contreras (can we call him the L?) seems to have locked down left field, with five starts there last week. Now right field seems up for grabs, with Ben Zobrist getting two starts there, and Kris Bryant and Szczur each getting one. Albert Almora Jr. (not to be confused with Sr.) came in as a defensive replacement in center as well as getting one start out there. Then he got sent down as Dexter Fowler is now back and should be taking most of the CF starts, for a while anyway. There will be a DH this week for two games, so that is good. There never seems to be enough positions for all these guys.

Former Annoying Cub Of The Week: When I was at Miller Park on Saturday, I noticed a number of Matt Garza banner things, and I have to say, man, sorry Brewer fans. To have to print out Matt Garza head shots on anything to promote your team has to be really painful. I hope the rebuild works, because Matt Garza is the worst, and he is not missed.

Current Annoying Cub Of The Week: Mike Montgomery had just been acquired by the Cubs when he promptly gave up a three-run bomb cementing, the loss at Miller Park on Saturday night. The extra annoying part is that I really liked Dan Vogelbach, whom the Cubs gave up to get him. Sure, Big Dan didn't really have a spot to play as he is a first baseman - and not even a good one - but I was hoping the National League would finally get a DH and we could see this dude rake for a while. Montgomery will probably be fine, but he was certainly annoying last week.

Mad(don) Scientist: I am really looking forward to the Maddonism spin when the Cubs get Chapman. Big Poppa Joe will be asked about it and he'll somehow slither away without taking any heat. Because that is what he is good at, but I honestly do not know what his angle will be.

Kubs Calendar: Fans attending the Cubs-Mariners game on Saturday will receive a Cubs misting fan. When asked about how Cub fans feel about getting Chapman, you can just shoot the misting fan in the face of the questioner to avoid any soul-searching insight.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that winning is the only thing.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Warhorses at the Burlington on Saturday night.


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2. The Coathangers at Wicker Park Fest on Sunday night.

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3. Witchcross at Star Bar in Chicago Ridge for Festival of the Witch on Saturday night.

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4. Hellgrind at the witch festival on Saturday night.

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5. Rich Robinson at City Winery on Friday night.

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6. Acceptance at the Metro on Saturday night.

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7. Screamking at the witch festival on Saturday night.

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8. Julion Alvarez in Rosemont on Sunday night.

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9. Culture Club at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.

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10. The Mountain Goats at Wicker Park Fest on Saturday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Don Felder at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on July 14th.

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Rita Coolidge at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on July 17th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:14 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bears Skies Cloudy All Day

Does anyone have an encouraging word about the Bears?

Heading into the start of training camp this week in Bourbonnais you won't hear it from me, at least not until I unload all sorts of discouraging ones.

Let's just dive right in: How have the Bears not better addressed deficiencies at safety?

The plan is apparently Adrian Amos, the second-year man who did not make one big play last year and, well, who the hell knows?

There is one other small problem on that side of the ball: Tell us the truth, Bears. Linebacker Pernell McPhee is still hurt, isn't he? And that is a major, major problem.

The Bears signed plenty of free agents in the offseason (linebackers and depth on the offensive line in particular) and grabbed a few extra draft picks. But their roster still looks like this?

And don't get me started about the offense. Actually, we might as well go ahead.

Hey John Fox, we know that you have earned a certain amount of "my way or the highway" leeway after two successful coaching stops in the NFL prior to coming to the Bears. But do you really think it was the right call to dump Martellus Bennet because you didn't like him and in so doing leave the tight end group so bereft? Zach Miller is your main guy? The same Zach Miller who has suffered injury after injury after injury after injury in his career?

You knew your running back group wasn't good enough. That was why you tried to sign Denver's C.J. Anderson as a free agent. But when you didn't get him, you just decided to go all in on Jeremy Langford?

And I am actually considerably more optimistic about Ka'Deem Carey's potential at the position than many Bears fans. So I would be inclined to be a little more optimistic here. But that Anderson thing sticks in my craw, big time.

And of course, the quarterback is still Jay Cutler. The lead item when position-by-position previews of the 2016 Bears have worked their way around to quarterback in the past few weeks has been that the Bears finally have an established backup. The established backup threw four picks in the first half of a playoff game in January but at least he was in a playoff game. Brian Hoyer is established!

The problem is, the backup doesn't matter (oh, and did we mention he's not any good anyway?). The starter matters. And for all the talk about Cutler's maturation last season, the bottom line was, he again failed again to lead the Bears to any victories of consequence.

And let's also be clear about the fact that Fox and Co. still don't want him even trying to win games with his arm. They want to win games with stout defense and a strong running game. Anyone who has paid attention to the Bears the last few years knows Cutler isn't the guy to lead them back to the playoffs after five years away.

One other thing about the offense: the Bears added a bunch of linemen, but are they really certain Charles Leno can handle left tackle? He was barely average last season.

And it sure would be great if someone, anyone, could explain to me the release of Matt Slauson.

When I was watching the Bears last season, I saw a hard-nosed offensive line that finished in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing yards/game.

And I saw that rushing offense especially excel when Slauson, who even in the land of giants that is the NFL is still a beast who can dominate foes, slid over to center.

And they just released him? I'm guessing this had to do with Slauson's personality, or maybe the Bears saw a problem in his personal life. Because it didn't make a damn bit of sense based on what he did on the field.

Woo boy, I've made it to near the end of this column and I'm still complaining. I suppose I'm encouraged that Vic Fangio is still the defensive coordinator. But I'm not encouraged about the offense at all. On special teams, Robbie Gould seemed to begin to decline last year and punter Pat O'Donnell is the picture of mediocrity. No one stands out as a particularly good returner or blocker/tackler on the roster.

The best news is, the Olympics will distract us for a big ol' chunk of the next month. And the Cubs should be entertaining into the early fall. But when baseball ends . . .

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:46 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

Insert Tim Kaine, progressive, conservative, neoliberal and neoconservative for an American equivalent. Hell, insert Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, for that matter.


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Previously in Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter!:

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

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

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

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

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

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

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

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

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

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

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

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

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

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

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

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

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

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

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

That Time In Chicago When The Mafia Almost Fixed The Democratic National Convention

After a dramatic Republican National Convention in Cleveland which saw Donald Trump finally become the party's official nominee, Hillary Clinton will this week accept the formal nomination of the Democratic Party.

U.S. national conventions have always been big business opportunities. As one long-time ally of the Bush family reportedly said, "For people who operate in and around government, you can't not be here."

Although some of the usual donors to the Republican National Convention, like Ford and UPS, stayed home this year, the host committee was able to raise nearly $60 million from American businesses.

Yet historically the "people who operate in and around government" are not only legitimate businesses but also, sometimes, less-than-legitimate ones.

Take the 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

As I explain in my book about the hidden power of organized crime, from which this article is adapted, the nomination that year had come down to a contest between two New York politicians.

Al Smith was a reform-minded former governor aligned with Tammany Hall, the Manhattan-based Democratic political machine. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the sitting governor, was running against him, and he was not aligned with Tammany.

fdr.jpg

If Roosevelt was to win the nomination at the Democratic National Convention, he needed to neutralize the Tammany threat. That meant figuring out what to do about the Mob.

Through their control of liquor and vice markets in southern Manhattan, Tammany's stronghold, the Italian-American Mafias and Jewish-heritage gangs that made up the New York Mob had developed growing power in Tammany affairs over the preceding years.

The Mob leadership now saw a huge strategic opportunity at the Democratic National Convention to leverage that power into something even bigger: influence over the next occupant of the White House.

Mob leaders Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello and Meyer Lansky all accompanied the Tammany Hall delegation to the convention in Chicago. Their Mafia associate Al Capone provided much of the alcohol, banned under Prohibition, and entertainment.

Costello shared a hotel suite with Jimmy Hines, the Tammany "Grand Sachem," who announced support for Roosevelt. But another Tammany politician, Albert Marinelli, announced that he and a small bloc were defecting and would not support Roosevelt.

Marinelli was Tammany's leader in the Second Assembly District, its heartland below Manhattan's 14th Street. During Prohibition he had owned a trucking company - run by none other than Lucky Luciano. Luciano had helped Marinelli become the first Italian-American district leader in Tammany, and in 1931 forced the resignation of the city clerk, whom Marinelli then replaced. This gave Luciano and Marinelli control over selection of grand jurors and the tabulation of votes during city elections.

Now, the two were sharing a Chicago hotel suite.

An Offer He Couldn't Refuse

Why were Costello and Luciano backing rival horses, and through them, rival candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination? Was this a disagreement over political strategy?

On the contrary, the evidence suggests that the Mob was playing both sides, to place themselves as brokers in the Democratic nomination process.

Roosevelt needed the full New York state delegation's support - and thus Tammany's - if he was going to win the floor vote at the convention. But he also needed to avoid being tainted by the whiff of scandal that hung stubbornly around Tammany - and the Mafia.

Roosevelt responded to the split by issuing a statement denouncing civic corruption, while carefully noting that he had not seen adequate evidence to date to warrant the prosecution of sitting Tammany leaders, despite an ongoing investigation run by an independent-minded prosecutor, Sam Seabury. Picking up his signal, Marinelli threw his support behind Roosevelt, giving him the full delegate slate and helping him gain the momentum needed to claim the nomination.

fdr2.jpgRoosevelt on the campaign trail in 1932/FDR Presidential Library, CC BY

The Mob's role may not have been decisive. Roosevelt's nomination had numerous fathers, not least John "Cactus Jack" Garner, a rival presidential candidate to whom Roosevelt offered the vice presidency in return for the votes of the Texas and California delegations. But it was a factor.

If the Mob leaders were not quite kingmakers as they had hoped, they were certainly players. As Luciano reportedly put it, "I don't say we elected Roosevelt, but we gave him a pretty good push."

It Takes One To Know One

Luciano was nonetheless a newcomer to national politics, and seems to have been quickly outsmarted by his candidate. Having secured the nomination, Roosevelt loosened the reins on Seabury's corruption investigation, making clear that if it developed new evidence, he might be prepared to back prosecutions after all.

Seabury quickly exposed significant Tammany graft in the New York administration. The city sheriff had amassed $400,000 in savings from a job that paid $12,000 a year. The mayor had awarded a bus contract to a company that owned no buses. A judge with half a million dollars in savings had been granted a loan to support 34 "relatives" found to be in his care.

Against the backdrop of Depression New York, with a collapsing private sector, 25 percent unemployment and imploding tax revenues, this was shocking profligacy and nepotism.

By September 1932, the mayor had resigned and fled to Paris with his showgirl girlfriend. In early 1933, Roosevelt moved into the White House and broke off the formal connection between Tammany Hall and the national Democratic Party for the first time in 105 years.

He even tacitly supported the election of the reformist Republican Fiorello La Guardia as New York mayor.

Luciano was pragmatic about having been outsmarted. "He done exactly what I would've done in the same position," he reportedly said. "He was no different than me . . . we was both shitass double-crossers, no matter how you look at it."

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James Cockayne is the Head of Office at the United Nations, United Nations University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:03 AM | Permalink

Sale's Scissors

According to general manager Rick Hahn, the White Sox are "mired in mediocrity," but when it comes to crazy off-the-field, clubhouse shenanigans, they're leading everyone. And Chris Sale is the ringmaster under the Big Top.

After Sale's spring training tirade aimed at vice president Kenny Williams following Adam LaRoche's bizarre walkout - as opposed to a walk-off which LaRoche failed to register in his one season on the South Side - the ace left-hander again went ballistic Saturday evening after being instructed to wear the uniform made famous by the South Side Hit Men 40 years ago.

Before examining exactly what is happening with this team and its best pitcher, let's review the attire in question.

When owner Bill Veeck introduced the duds in 1976, they already were a throwback. One feature was a sewn-on collar meant to emulate how players dressed at the turn of the 20th Century. In addition, these were the only jerseys in history intended to be untucked, something in vogue today wherever millennials gather.

My guess is that the untucked style agrees just fine with Sale when he dines out, but when he pitches, the leisure mode is not conducive for a guy leading the league with 14 victories.

Thank heaven the front office didn't insist that the players also wear the shorts that the 1976 team wore for the first game of a doubleheader in August of that season. Had Sale been handed shorts and knee socks, there's no telling what degree of devastation might have ensued.

When the uniforms were introduced in a fashion show during the winter before the 1976 season, they achieved the desired effect, which was nationwide publicity, or exactly what happened again last weekend. Instead of headlines about the Cooperstown Hall of Fame induction of Junior Griffey and Mike Piazza, fans were scratching their heads over the news of Sale taking a scissors to any of the throwbacks within reach.

Ironically, the shirts and shorts were designed to accommodate the athletes, not to impede them.

"Players should not worry about their vanity, but their comfort," Veeck said when the uniforms were rolled out, as recounted by Rolling Stone two years ago.

"If it's 95 degrees out, an athlete should be glad to put on short pants and forget his bony knees. I've got a worse-looking knee than any of my players. It's solid wood," said Veeck, who lost a leg in World War II.

Lucky for Sale he wasn't a member of the Sox contingent back then because those teams displayed the untucked style for six seasons.

Sale's competitive, brash, and occasional out-of-control demeanor is well-documented. Without it, he probably wouldn't be the guy who is the mainstay of the pitching staff and the team's most valued member. With the trade deadline looming in a week's time, the rumor mill is churning, with teams like the Rangers and Red Sox reportedly talking to Hahn about acquiring Sale for a stable of present and future big leaguers.

Then there was last Monday in Seattle when manager Robin Ventura lifted his ace after eight innings and exactly 100 pitches, even though Sale had blanked the Mariners on one hit.

My pal Tim texted, "Imagine telling [Cardinal Hall of Famer Bob] Gibson he's coming out" of a one-hit shutout three outs short of a complete game. "Sale should have been telling his manager, 'This is my game. Give me the ball.'"

Gibson approached the game like a war. His 255 complete games speak volumes about his fierce determination to finish what he started. Of course, today's game, with it closers and set-up men, is far different than in Gibson's day, but Sale has some of the same fire as pitchers of bygone eras.

In came closer David Robertson, who because of injury and the All-Star break hadn't pitched in 12 days. With a 3-0 lead, Sale's 15th victory seemed assured. Two singles and a walk set the stage for pinch hitter Adam Lind, who had four hits in his previous 35 at-bats. Lind took an 0-1 offering from Robertson over the right centerfield fence for a three-run homer and a 4-3 Seattle win. If Sale needed a reason to self-destruct, Ventura and Robertson certainly provided one.

How much is a guy supposed to endure? Here's Sale, the all-time White Sox leader for strikeouts in a season; a career ERA of 2.95; 71 wins in a Sox uniform against just 43 losses; and the favorite to win the Cy Young Award this season.

Through no fault of his own but rather because of the ineptitude of his teammates, manager and front office, a trade to another team has become a genuine possibility. He's pulled from a one-hit shutout with three outs to go and a hundred pitches thrown, only to see the vaunted closer blow it. On top of it all, he's told to wear a jersey he considers ugly and uncomfortable. Forget the $12 million he's being paid this season. Where are the scissors?

The Sox failed to discipline Sale last March over the LaRoche outburst, but destroying team property in such a manner got him canned for five days. If Sale has been pitching with a chip on his shoulder, he figures to have boulders on both shoulders if Ventura starts him on Thursday, when he returns, in the last of four games at Wrigley this week.

And how did the Sox do on Saturday and Sunday without Sale around? It depends on how you look at it. Saturday's game against the Tigers was suspended because of rain after eight innings with the teams deadlocked at 3-3, so the game resumed on Sunday. Adam Eaton's walk-off single gave the local crew a 4-3 win as Ventura employed seven relievers to cover for Sale, who was sent home like an expelled schoolboy.

The regularly scheduled game provided another masterful performance by Jose Quintana, who lately is every bit as good as Sale. He left with two outs in the seventh and a three-hit shutout intact. Nate Jones yielded a solo homer in the eighth, and Ventura summoned Robertson once again, after he picked up the win in the suspended game earlier in the afternoon.

Either Robertson is playing hurt or he is masquerading as a batting practice pitcher judging by the three - count 'em - solo home runs he served up in the top of the ninth as the Tigers evened the count at four, resulting in another no-decision for Quintana. Twice Robertson was within a strike of saving the game for Jose. It should be noted here that Quintana not only didn't savage any jerseys, he didn't so much as kick the Gatorade jug.

Maybe Robertson is more into wins than saves; Melky Cabrera's run-scoring single in the bottom of the ninth gave the embattled closer his second W of the day. Consider that between the Monday and Sunday appearances, Robertson pitched 1 2/3 innings, giving up seven earned runs and four homers. You'd have thought he was pitching to Giancarlo Stanton in the Home Run Derby.

In fact, in 17 innings of relief last week, the Sox bullpen was tagged for 15 earned runs and nine homers. How they won three of seven games is a mystery to me.

So now it's two against the Cubs at The Cell, which will be filled with Cubbie blue, followed by two more on the North Side. One team is young, fresh, looking forward, playing in front of goo-goo-eyed devotees confident of a World Series appearance; the other is in tatters.

Sox fans can be excused if they're expecting the worst. Being embarrassed by the Cubs would be yet another low blow. But whatever transpires this week, the Sox will have their jerseys neatly tucked into their trousers.

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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 5:17 AM | Permalink

July 23, 2016

The Weekend Desk Report

The Papers will return on Tuesday.

I don't like Hillary Clinton, despite the accusations thrown at me eight years ago when I repeatedly told the truth about Barack Obama based solely on the reporting (and local sources in a position to know) that was buried amid waves of mythology and narrative-building. In fact, I've come to loathe Hillary Clinton.

I have also been a vociferous supporter of the right - even the duty - of citizens to vote their consciences, instead of enabling the cynical electoral strategies of a political establishment beholden only to themselves. There are no wasted votes - and in fact, the research shows clearly, despite what the punditry continues to repeat, that Nader voters did not swing the 2000 election to George W. Bush any more than Perot votes swung the 1992 election to Bill Clinton. Those are the facts.

So you might expect me to support, in this instance, Bernie Sanders voters - particularly in non-swing states where their votes won't "matter" in the only sense that political professionals can conjure - to pull the lever for their guy with enthusiasm.

I do not. This election is different.

Donald Trump and his supporters must be not just defeated, but defeated soundly. Thrashed. We need every vote for Candidate X - who in this case is noxious, yes, but that's the choice we have - to bury Trumpism, or at least relegate it to the fringes.

A Hillary Clinton presidency based on a close election will wreak havoc on the country. Trumpists will be emboldened, and the courageless chicken-hawks of the Republican Party will appease fascist neo-Nazism even further, some out of political fear and opportunism, and some out of the continuing delusion of folks like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell that Trump can be controlled and their agenda can still be advanced.

Even a solid, "normal" margin of victory for Hillary Clinton will cast a foreboding cloud over the country, and thus the world.

This is what we get for the Democrats not holding a true primary, and for a two-party system that has gelatinized into inertia.

But we can deal with that after the election, just as we can deal with Hillary Clinton after she becomes president.

As I've written before, Hillary Clinton at this moment in time is like Michael Madigan. Her existence is grotesque, but right now we need her on that wall. After the emergency has passed, we must do everything in our power to make sure such a moment doesn't come again.

But right now, extraordinary measures must be taken. And that means we must give Hillary Clinton the greatest margin of victory we can muster.

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Barack Obama bequeathed to us Mayor Rahm Emanuel and, quite possibly, President Hillary Clinton. What a transformational change agent.

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Feel free to comment.

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Beachwood Sports Radio: Trade Bait
Grinding Coach Coffman's Gears! Plus: The Harry Caray Death Cult; Asset Sale; The Sad Sack Sox!; Derrick Rose Still Dim; In The Olympic Swim; and Dennis Green Crowned Their Ass.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Babymetal, Five Finger Death Punch, Heart, Slipknot, Al Stewart, King Sunny Ade, Dale Watson, Alabama Shakes, Old Crow Medicine Show, Cheap Trick, I Prevail, Creeper, Marco and the Polos, Sawyer Fredericks, Joan Jett, Sublime with Rome, Gregg Allman, Rammstein, Chevelle, Erykah Badu, Blackberry Smoke, Peter Frampton, Angelcorpse, At War, Razor, Drowning Pool, Korn, and Vince Neil.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Moby became the face of techno with the blockbuster success of his 1999 album Play. In his new memoir Porcelain, he explores his origins in the underground rave scene of '80s New York up until his mainstream success. Moby joins Jim and Greg for a conversation. Plus, a review of the new album from post-Riot Grrrl band The Julie Ruin."

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Weekend TweetWood

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We can - and should - deal with this sort of thing even while trying to crush Trump.

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The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: Gut check time.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

July 22, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #112: Trade Bait

Grinding Coach Coffman's Gears! Plus: The Harry Caray Death Cult; Asset Sale; The Sad Sack Sox!; Derrick Rose Still Dim; In The Olympic Swim; and Dennis Green Crowned Their Ass.


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SHOW NOTES

* 112.

:36: Cubs Stove.

* Mike Montgomery.

* Fangraphs: Scouting Dan Vogelbach & Co.

* Baseball Prospectus: The Legend of Vogelbach.

* Fowler indeed activated, Almora indeed back to Triple-A.

* Hail Szczur!

* Staving off panic.

* Here come the Cardinals!

* From Jake Young to Cy Hendricks.

* Randall Delgado.

22:26: Ryan Dumpster Fire.

* Jay Pharoah.

* Sager sucks.

* Stone: Cub Fan, Bad Man?

* The Harry Caray Death Cult.

34:40: Asset Sale.

* Franchise fail.

* Tank Time.

* Free Rick Hahn.

* DH: Jose Abreu.

* The sad sack Sox!

* Jerry Reinsdorf's cold, cold heart.

* Free Robin Ventura.

55:00 Derrick Rose Still Dim.

56:55: In The Olympic Swim.

* Katie Ledecky.

* Simone Biles:

* Gabby Douglas.

1:05:55: Dennis Green Crowned Their Ass.

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STOPPAGE: 7:54

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:48 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

You can find my real-time commentary on Donald Trump's acceptance speech and the rest of the doings at the Republican National Convention last night at @BeachwoodReport.

Meanwhile:

But:

"It's been a great week for gay escorts in Cleveland," the New York Post reports.

"Male prostitutes contacted by The Post said business is booming and Republican National Convention attendees - most of them married - are clamoring for their services.

"'Business has been way better. I've seen 10 clients so far,' one male escort said.

"'Most of them were first-timers. You could tell they were nervous, but once they became more comfortable, they seemed to be having a good time.'"

So . . . you know. Figure it out.

Law And Disorder
"Former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb has recommended more than 50 reforms to address problems in the city of Chicago's Law Department, which has come under fire in recent months for its handling of potential evidence in police misconduct cases," the Tribune reports.

"But Webb's seven-month review found no intentional misconduct during Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration beyond a previously reported instance, according to the 74-page report released Thursday."

So the city's law department is incompetent, not corrupt.

*

"In a gently worded report that focused more on future reforms than past failings, Webb's group called for new, robust training concentrating, in part, on 'reinforcing a culture of compliance in discovery.'"

So the current culture is one of insufficient compliance with the basic requirements governing evidence.

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"The report also recommended that the Law Department stop interviewing defendant officers in a group setting, a practice that critics have said promotes the department's code of silence by allowing officers to align their stories."

Wait, what?

Interviewing police officers in a group setting instead of separately is a willful technique to obscure truth in favor of building a unified, if untruthful, defense.

"Webb's team said group interviews are not unethical but should be avoided because of the potential conflicts involved."

I beg to differ.

Unethical: "unwilling to adhere to proper rules of conduct . . . not in accord with the standards of a profession."

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"The report stresses that city attorneys need a stronger understanding of how police records are maintained. For example, city lawyers told Webb's team that they only recently learned about GPS data maintained by the Police Department and that some search warrant-related documents are stored on the West Side."

Maybe city attorneys should FOIA the CPD.

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"'Almost uniformly, (police litigation division) attorneys acknowledged during interviews that they could benefit from a more comprehensive knowledge of the universe of CPD or other City documents that exist, and that at times they have experienced challenges during discovery as a consequence of not possessing a complete knowledge of all CPD and other City entity information generation and record-keeping,' the report states."

Again: What?

This is a damning report no matter how Webb has presented it. City attorneys don't know what records the CPD keeps, they have trouble getting all records relevant to their cases, and seemingly no one has cared enough up 'til now to do anything about it.

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"In an interview with the Tribune, Webb said he and his team found the Law Department eager to improve and quick to adopt changes as the review went on."

Now that they were asked by Dan Webb! Never occurred to them before.

"The problems at the department were more about the flow of information between the department and Chicago police, he said, as opposed to an intentional withholding of records to gain an advantage in court or to further a code of silence that protects problem cops."

I'm struggling to see the distinction.

"I didn't find that there was a culture inside the Law Department for management to put their head in the sand and not want documents to be discovered that should be produced," Webb said.

And yet, it seems like that's exactly what Webb found.

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"Local plaintiffs' attorneys - many of whom were interviewed as part of the review - considered Webb's findings to be something of a paradox. Despite the conclusion that the city does not intentionally conceal documents, the report's recommendations indicate that the police litigation division is understaffed, needs more supervision and had a poor communication policy with city agencies responsible for producing documents."

More like: "Despite the conclusion that the city does not intentionally conceal documents, the city abides concealed documents."

You can decide for yourself what the motivation for that might be.

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"'This scenario created a de facto unintentional practice and policy of civil plaintiff's attorneys either not getting requested documents or getting them late in discovery because of these failures,' said attorney Antonio Romanucci, who was interviewed by Webb's team as part of the review."

If the practice was indeed unintentional, it was indeed malpractice.

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"Webb's findings come one month after a Tribune investigation that detailed how the Law Department routinely fights requests to turn over potential evidence in police misconduct cases."

Back where we started. The city's law department passively ignores documents it never gets and aggressively withholds the documents it does have.

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"Webb said in an interview it wasn't possible to review all 1,800 cases - most involving police misconduct - that the civil rights division handled over the past five years. Instead, he and nine other lawyers from his firm, Winston & Strawn, scrutinized 75 'sample' cases 'where I would expect to find the biggest problems,'" the Sun-Times reports.

"For a report that says they didn't find much, to make 50 recommendations is pretty shocking," [lawyer Steve] Greenberg said. "But some of these recommendations are basic common sense that they should have been doing all along."

Again, it's so inconceivable that they haven't been attending to such basics that the department is either soaked in corruption or massive incompetence.

Attorney Jon Loevy told the Sun-Times that "The city has again spent a lot of money to hire people to tell them what they already know: that there is a serious problem."

You get the sense that "everyone" knew this was the law department's modus operandi.

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"Steve Patton, City Hall's corporation counsel, acknowledged 'there is room for improvement' on discovery issues."

That's the kind of response that indicates significant improvement is not on the way.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Hello, St. Joe
At the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Amtrak station around the corner in Michigan, which has shared its building with Silver Beach Pizza since 2005.

Federal FOIA Failures
Meet the Most Transparent Administration Ever.

Fantasy Fix: Replacing Clayton Kershaw
You can't replace Clayton Kershaw.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: Trade Bait
Is in post-production.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Is in production.

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BeachBook

Who The Republicans Could Have Picked.

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Stanford-Bound Chicago Teen Pens Defiant Open Letter To Dentist Who Shamed Him For Affirmative Action.

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TweetWood
A non-Trump sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Content harvesting.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:45 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Babymetal at the Open Air festival in Bridgeview on Sunday.


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2. Five Finger Death Punch at Open Air on Sunday night.

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3. Heart at Northerly Island on Tuesday night.

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4. Slipknot at Open Air on Sunday night.

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5. Al Stewart at City Winery on Tuesday night.

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6. King Sunny Ade at Millennium Park on Monday night.

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7. Dale Watson at City Winery on Wednesday night.

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8. Alabama Shakes at the Aragon on Wednesday night.

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9. Old Crow Medicine Show at Thalia Hall on Monday night.

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10. Cheap Trick at Northerly Island on Tuesday night.

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11. I Prevail at Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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12. Creeper at Beat Kitchen on Wednesday night.

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13. Marco and the Polos at House of Blues on Sunday night.

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14. Sawyer Fredericks at SPACE in Evanston on Tuesday night.

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15. Joan Jett at Northerly Island on Tuesday night.

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16. Sublime with Rome at Northerly Island on Sunday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Gregg Allman at Northerly Island for the Laid Back Festival last Saturday night.

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Rammstein at Open Air last Friday night.

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Chevelle at Open Air last Friday night.

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Erykah Badu at the V103 Block Party on Northerly Island last Friday night.

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Blackberry Smoke at Laid Back last Saturday.

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Peter Frampton at Laid Back last Saturday night.

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Angelcorpse at Reggies for Metal Threat Fest last Thursday night.

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At War at Metal Threat last Saturday night.

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Razor at Metal Threat last Saturday night.

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Drowning Pool with old guy at Open Air last Friday.

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Korn at Open Air last Saturday night.

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Vince Neil at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles last Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

Delayed, Denied, Dismissed: Failures On The FOIA Front

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act, which was designed to give the public the right to scrutinize the records of government agencies.

Almost no one needs public records more than an organization like ProPublica, whose mission is producing work that "shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them."

Yet almost every reporter on our staff can recite aneurysm-inducing tales of protracted jousting with the public records offices of government agencies.

Local, state and federal agencies alike routinely blow through deadlines laid out in law or bend them to ludicrous degrees, stretching out even the simplest requests for years. And they bank on the media's depleted resources and ability to legally challenge most denials.

Many government agencies have gutted or understaffed the offices that respond to public records requests. Even when agencies aren't trying to stymie requests, waits for records now routinely last longer than most journalists can wait - or so long that the information requested is no longer useful. This, in turn, allows public agencies to control scrutiny of their operations.

There's little reason to hope things will improve. Last week, President Obama, who has repeatedly broken promises to deliver new levels of transparency, signed the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016. The act writes the presumption of disclosure clearly into law, pledges to strengthen the FOIA Ombudsman and creates a single FOIA portal for agencies to receive requests, among other user-friendly provisions. But the act explicitly provides no new resources for implementing these provisions.

To provide a sense of the difficulties encountered by ProPublica reporters trying to access public records, we are recounting some of our battles on the Freedom of Information front at all levels of government:

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Cezary Podkul

Last year, a whistleblower reached out to ProPublica with an enticing tip: Shoddy oversight by New York city and state regulators was allowing real estate owners to improperly collect more than $100 million in tax breaks while depriving tenants of rent-regulated apartments as required by law.

The tip from Steve Werner, an analyst at the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development, eventually led to our "Rent Racket" series, which sparked outrage and prompted state and local lawmakers to introduce legislation to address the problems.

But my experience with New York State's FOI law along the way shows how public officials can easily, and without penalty, abuse it.

Werner told me he had years' worth of memos and other documents detailing the problems he'd noticed and his repeated warnings to superiors. He couldn't provide us with copies, however, because he was, and still is, employed at the agency. And we feared that asking him to do so could compromise his job or subject him to retaliation. So instead I filed a FOIL request for the information. Getting it via official channels, I thought, would protect Werner, give the agency a chance to weigh in, and still allow us to press ahead.

Knowing that documents exist makes such requests interesting tests of both the integrity and transparency of government agencies. In this case, I thought I would be able to describe the documents clearly enough that it would be hard for the agency to say they couldn't find them.

So last October, I sent HPD a FOIL letter requesting emails between Werner and his superior that contained a few specific terms, such as "J-51" and "421-a," the names of the two tax breaks at issue. I quickly got letters back denying this and similar requests because they did not "adequately describe the records you seek."

I knew this wasn't true because inside the agency two of my requests had been shared with Werner, who told me he was able to locate the exact records I sought. But, he said, as he was assembling the records for the agency's then-FOIL officer, Donald Appel, he was told by his superior to stop working on my request.

So I filed a follow-up request asking Appel to provide me with "copies of any records Stephen Werner has assembled in response to my previous FOIL requests." Appel gave this request a new number, 1527-15, and denied it a few days later on the grounds that HPD "does not possess or maintain any records responsive to your request."

A few days after my second denial, Werner e-mailed HPD's deputy general counsel, Mary-Lynne Rifenburgh, and cc'd me. He informed Rifenbrugh that he'd assembled 340 pages of records in response to my FOIL requests and included the keywords in the titles and bookmarks of an attachment he'd e-mailed Appel.

I then responded to politely remind Rifenburgh that HPD did, in fact, have the records I was requesting and that I would refile a fresh request to receive them.

That same day, I filed yet another request, this time for the records Werner referenced in his e-mail to Rifenburgh - about as specific as one can get with any FOIL request. Then I waited. And waited.

Finally, in April 2016, after five months had passed, I sent HPD an e-mail demanding immediate action. I cc'd ProPublica's president (our lawyer) and New York's Committee on Open Government, which helps reporters navigate the FOI law. HPD then issued a vague summary denial citing sections 87(2)(a) and 87(2)(g) of the Public Officers Law. The two sections prohibit disclosure of records that are specifically exempt by state or federal law, and inter- or intra-agency communications that are not statistical or factual tabulations of data, among other things.

It is unclear why this denial was not sent in reply to my initial request or why the agency said it couldn't locate the records when it clearly could. But it raises important questions:

Does the agency routinely lie - without consequence - about the existence of public records? Do higher-ups interfere with the workings of the FOI law? Does the agency routinely drag out such requests to penalize and interfere with reporting efforts?

I asked HPD these questions. A spokeswoman said the agency handled my request "appropriately."

Werner, 70, works as an analyst and programmer in the agency's statistical division, so there is a very good chance that much of the work he's produced is, in fact, statistical or factual in nature and not exempt from disclosure.

At a City Council hearing in February, he described some of the work he's done and how its disclosure could help better inform council members and policymakers about lax oversight over important housing tax breaks. That sounds like information that would have strengthened my reporting and helped document how long agency officials were aware they had a problem.

But short of suing the agency - an expensive proposition that could take years if the agency actively resists and appeals when it loses - I can't find out. And neither will the public - unless lawmakers ask the agency for the records and ask the tough questions that I couldn't get answered.

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Justin Elliott

A simple, solitary FOIA request tells you everything you need to know about living under what President Obama has called The Most Transparent Administration Ever.

To wit:

On March 16, I submitted a request for e-mails to the Department of Justice. This was no fishing expedition: I wanted the e-mails of just two officials, the former U.S Attorney General and his chief of staff, and to make it even easier, I only wanted those from a few-months-long period and about a single lawsuit.

When I was given an estimated completion date of April 27 on the government's FOIA website, I was satisfied; that would give me plenty of time to incorporate any documents into my story. So far, so good.

April 27 came and went and I received no word. A week after the deadline, I called and spoke to the FOIA officer handling my request.

"I've got to apologize because I had overlooked this one," he told me. "And that means I need to work on it today."

Ten days later, on May 13, I had still not received even an acknowledgement of my request. I called back.

"Unfortunately it doesn't appear that they took any action in response to my e-mail," the FOIA officer told me, referring to another office in his department. This had happened, he explained, "because I sent them an e-mail with a tagline from the system, which they tend to ignore. I need to send an e-mail saying we need action on this immediately."

Um, not reassuring.

Finally, on May 16 - several weeks after I was supposed to have had the documents I requested in hand - I received a form letter officially acknowledging that my request had been received. But now there was a new wrinkle. My request had been placed on the dreaded "complex" track.

I called my FOIA officer, James Davis, back. Why had my request, which I deliberately crafted to be as narrow as possible, been deemed complex?

"The complexity factor is based on the fact that we have to go to the Attorney General's office and get the e-mails," my FOIA officer told me.

Huh? The FOIA office, it turns out, is part of something called the Office of Information Policy. And, cue incredulous look, the only request to the Justice Department that would be deemed simple would be a request for materials from the Office of Information Policy itself. "Anything that goes outside our office is not a simple request," he said.

So by asking the Justice Department for materials related to the man who headed it, my request automatically qualified as having "unusual circumstances" and was placed on the "complex" track.

Two weeks later, in June, I called for an update. My request, I was told, had been transferred to another FOIA officer.

By this time I should not have been surprised when the new officer told me it would be at least three more weeks before another part of the agency would even do a search for the e-mails I requested. At that point, they would need to be reviewed and redacted. Then all redactions would be sent for review and approval by the Attorney General's own lawyers. That process would take at least an additional two months. If I'm lucky, I'll receive any e-mails in the fall, months after my story will have been published.

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Paul Kiel

In the summer of 2010, with the foreclosure crisis still grinding on, I filed a FOIA with the Treasury Department. By that time, I had already published plenty of stories about the government's flat-footed response to the crisis, the centerpiece of which was a program called the Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP.

To homeowners facing foreclosure, HAMP was a four-letter word, an acronym that served as a symbol for the anxiety and rage they felt at the sheer incompetence of the nation's largest banks, which had been trusted with cleaning up the mess they'd made and were doing a really poor job.

My FOIA was pretty specific: I wanted the government's audits of the big banks in the program. HAMP was premised on the idea that, with the proper financial incentives (billions of dollars), banks would willingly make the mortgages of struggling homeowners more affordable.

But the program was long on carrots and short on sticks. I knew that auditors were supposed to be checking out these banks to see if they were following the government's rules for performing modifications. For the Treasury Department, it should have been simple to find these reports and send them to me.

Instead, my experience turned out to mirror that of a homeowner caught in HAMP. Simply getting a response at all was the big challenge. Then, when the response came after 10 months of phone calls, it was a flat no. Why? Because releasing the reports would violate the banks' trade secrets. I appealed.

Among my points: How could breaking government rules constitute a trade secret? I also found that some of the banks had not even objected to having the documents released. So why was Treasury withholding them?

Months later, I was gratified to learn that I had won my appeal. But the Treasury Department released the documents in drips and drabs and with hefty redactions. As I read through them I knew why.

In late 2012, two years after starting the process, I had enough material to publish my story. Headlined "Secret Documents Show Weak Oversight of Key Foreclosure Program," the story revealed that the government had not completed a major audit of the two largest banks in the program, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, until over a year after the program launched. It also showed the friendly back and forth between the banks and auditors, even as the banks failed to comply with the program's guidelines with no consequences.

It was an important story, but because of the Treasury Department's unwarranted delay in releasing public records, it came late in the game. The crisis had passed its peak, and for millions of homeowners, it was too late. By dragging its feet, the Treasury Department had succeeded in keeping information from the public when it might have had the greatest effect.

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Charles Ornstein

A few years back, after we'd compiled the first-ever public database of drug company payments to doctors, we thought it'd be smart to see if any doctors working for the federal government were taking money or meals from the companies, perhaps in violation of the government's rules.

It should've been easy to find out. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management considers the names, titles and salaries of most federal employees to be a matter of public record and will release that information in response to a FOIA request. So, I filed one. (Here's a sample of what an organization has done with the data.)

Some agencies - the CIA, the FBI, the Secret Service and the National Security Agency - won't release the names of their employees for obvious reasons: They could be targeted.

But doctors paid with tax dollars? No problem, I figured.

The Office of Personnel Management sent me a trove of records from most federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs. But a short time later, I received a letter from the Defense Department, which had been forwarded my request, saying it wouldn't release the names of any of its employees, be they active-duty personnel or civilians. The reason: Since 9/11, we are at war.

I quickly appealed. The military health care system is vast and doctors who treat service members receive scant scrutiny.

"While I understand that some personnel are involved in sensitive operations, I cannot understand why a blanket exemption would apply to all DOD personnel," I wrote in my appeal letter in March 2011. "For instance, what justification is there for denying information on civilian staff members, including clerical workers, political appointees and medical personnel? Even for enlisted men and women, not all are stationed abroad or involved in dangerous operations."

A few months later, the Pentagon's FOIA office sent along court rulings supporting its decision and said I would likely lose if I proceeded with my appeal.

After a phone conversation, the DOD asked if I wanted to narrow my request. That seemed fair, so I asked for information only on medical personnel. I noted that the Center for Public Integrity got some of this information by looking at DOD travel disclosure forms.

"It seems that if the names are included in those public records, it's hard to understand why they couldn't be released in the context of my request," I wrote.

Then I waited some more. By now my seemingly simple request had taken three years(!), well past the time most journalists can afford to spend on a story.

In May 2014, I received a forehead-smacking e-mail from a DOD FOIA appeals analyst: "I believe that due to the age of the request, it would be in your best interest to withdraw the appeal and submit this as a new FOIA request."

No. I did not want go back to square one of the FOIA board game. "It's frustrating," I responded, "because I was asked at least once before whether I wanted to proceed with my appeal and every time, I have said yes. I don't want to restart a process that could take many years to resolve. The military apparently does not believe it has to disclose this information - or respond timely to an appeal."

Finally, in November 2014 - more than 3 1/2 years after I filed my appeal - I received a final response: Denied. We are at war, I was told, and I am not entitled to the records.

There was no explanation of how doctors would be put at risk by releasing their names. No sense of when or if this "war" would ever end - or whether the DOD could use it as an excuse forever.

While I am frustrated that I never received the records I requested, I am more troubled that it took years to process my FOIA appeal. How could it have taken nearly as long putting a kid through college to formulate a response?

It underscored just how broken the FOIA system is.

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Jesse Eisinger

On a hot and sunny day in late July 2015, I filed a FOIA request with the Securities and Exchange Commission for all the investigative files from its closed probe of a certain bank.

For a while, save for a note acknowledging the receipt of my request, I heard nothing. Finally, on Nov. 15, I received a reply: The agency had determined there were 20 boxes of material containing such files. Since a pre-release review of the boxes would take longer than 32 hours, I would be placed in the "First-In, First-Out" track. Then came the kicker: "At present we anticipate that it may take thirty-six months or more before we can begin to process a request placed in our FIFO track."

Despite being a finance reporter, I struggle with math. It took me a moment to take that in. The SEC was saying it couldn't start working on my request for . . . three years.

My editors are pretty patient at ProPublica, but not that patient.

The letter helpfully offered a possibility that things might go faster if I narrowed my request. So I got on the horn with a very nice FOIA officer at the SEC. He really seemed to want to help me. We walked through what materials might be in those 20 boxes in order to see if I could pare things down. Finally, we decided I'd only ask for the transcripts of interviews the SEC lawyers had conducted.

A few weeks later, he called me back. That had narrowed things down to 12 boxes. I was still FIFO'd.

I asked: Ok, what's in those 12 boxes? I'd be fine starting with only a handful of executive interviews.

"We don't know."

"Come again?"

"They are not labeled," he said.

They were in a warehouse and all pertained to the investigation into the bank, but they couldn't tell specifically what was in the boxes. I am not often surprised by government responses, but this was an exception.

I stifled my skepticism and asked if the SEC could look in the boxes and then tell me. But the FOIA officer explained that looking in the boxes would take longer than 32 hours - putting me back into FIFO.

Here I felt something like Jack Nicholson's character in Five Easy Pieces. I just wanted some goddamn toast. Was that so hard?

I made a suggestion: Let's pretend I was an SEC attorney who was interested in a specific interview from the case. How would I go about getting it? Would I have to look through every box?

He said he didn't know because he wasn't an investigating attorney. In fact, he wasn't a lawyer at all. Nobody in the FOIA office was. I was stuck.

I whined to a big firm lawyer I knew, who came up with an ingenious solution: Ask for one box, any box. I wrote a new request. I asked for one box, any box of their choosing. I offered to waive any media privileges and pay any fees the SEC incurred. I offered to come to their offices and go through the box myself. I tried to give them no out.

Seven months after my initial request, they came through. They gave me the materials from one of the boxes. I opened up the files eagerly. They all had all the names redacted. Even the SEC attorneys. Even names of deals. I couldn't understand a thing. It was like looking at the scroll of code from the Matrix.

The lawyer thought we would have a great case to challenge the SEC's response. She thought we'd win and get them to un-redact most of the names and details. But by that point, my story was done and I was moving on with a new project. The SEC had won.

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Julia Angwin

In November 2013, a U.S. customs official refused to let Toronto resident Ellen Richardson board a flight to New York because she had been hospitalized for depression - and was therefore considered a mental health risk.

A Canadian privacy commissioner investigated and found that Ontario police were routinely uploading suicide calls into a database that was accessed by the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

And it turned out that there was an obscure provision in the immigration law that allows border agents to deny admission to people who have mental disorders that could pose a threat to themselves or others.

Curious about how many other people might have been turned away at the border on mental health grounds, I filed a FOIA on May 19, 2014 to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services seeking complaints by individuals denied admission on mental health grounds, as well as training manuals governing such denials and other related documents.

I heard nothing. And then, two years later, I got an e-mail from Yael Schacher, a professor at the University of Connecticut, who said she had received my FOIA response at her home address in West Hartford.

"I opened it, thinking that the name was wrong and it was for me because, as a Harvard PhD student studying immigration, I submitted several FOIAs to USCIS in 2013 and 2014," that were still outstanding because they had been referred to other agencies for review, Schacher wrote to me. But inside the envelope was not her FOIA response, but mine.

Kindly, she mailed the response to my office. The contents were underwhelming to say the least. The two-year wait had produced a three-page printout of an e-mail thread, in which an immigration service employee outlined the criteria for when the agency must consult the U.S Department of Health and Human Services on mental health immigration denials.

The e-mail answered a question I hadn't asked, and was - to be honest - beside the point.

Meanwhile, Schacher is still waiting for her FOIA. "Who knows who has received my long awaited FOIA documents!?" she wrote to me. "If you happen to get any of my documents, please send them to my home address."

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grabell.jpg

Michael Grabell

Back in 2010, during the depths of the recession, the Obama administration awarded $7 billion in grants and loans to help bring high-speed internet to rural areas and inner cities.

It was a key part of President Obama's $800 billion stimulus package and an endeavor often compared to the New Deal program that brought electricity to farming communities.

As part of my reporting on the stimulus for ProPublica and a book I was writing, I spent some time driving the unpaved back roads of rural Vermont, talking to families who were desperate for faster, more reliable connections to the outside world.

To see when, and if, they would get it, I filed a FOIA request with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in October 2010, seeking the grant applications for six of the largest projects.

My goal was to see what was being promised, so that when the projects were completed, I could check if the companies - and the Obama administration - followed through.

I'm no stranger to FOIA delays.

But despite the president's pledge of unprecedented transparency with stimulus spending, I heard nothing for four-and-a-half years.

Meanwhile, construction on the broadband projects began. My book was published (you can buy it here!). And controversy grew over whether the government money was competing with private investment, whether the internet speed was fast enough, and why some communities weren't getting connected.

Finally in April 2015, the USDA sent me a letter, saying they had located approximately 4,000 pages related to my request.

But they couldn't give them to me yet.

First, as is standard, they had to notify the companies behind the broadband projects to give them a chance to object to any information they might consider proprietary.

It wouldn't take much longer, the agency assured me in the letter. The companies had to respond by the end of the month.

That was the last I ever heard of my FOIA request.

Since then, much of the money has been spent. While the administration promised to connect millions of rural households, in March 2014, it lowered that number to 729,000, according to congressional investigators at the Government Accountability Office.

More than 40 projects were terminated before they even began.

The agency was releasing so little information, the GAO said, that it was difficult to determine if the program had worked.

"We are left with a program that spent $3 billion," a GAO investigator told Politico last summer, "and we really don't know what became of it."

Back in rural Vermont, a $116 million plan by VTel Wireless to bring broadband to all unserved households is officially considered complete.

But the state's congressional delegation recently sent a letter to the USDA asking why they're hearing it's "only available in a few areas."

I decided to ask some local reporters how the grant application might inform their work, so I called John Lippman, who's been covering the broadband project for the Valley News, which covers several communities in central Vermont and New Hampshire.

To my chagrin, Lippman said he already had the grant application. He received it under FOIA last year, he said, and it took only a matter of weeks. He published a story about it here.

"It was very valuable because it gave me some insight into a number of things," he said. "In the application they said they were going to be doing x, y, z. So I was able to match what they said they were going to do with how far they were in the process."

Vermont's state auditor Doug Hoffer got a copy too - but heavily redacted.

"It's a 949-page document, and 650 pages were redacted. It's a complete joke," he said. "I have to say, not only as the state auditor, but as a citizen, I'm outraged about what the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to in terms of redactions at the behest of the company. It's appalling. We basically were not given any information."

As I called people around Vermont, I heard back from the USDA's chief FOIA officer, who was trying to track down my request. She said it was still in process and gave me the direct number for the analyst handling my request. So I called the number and got an automated message: The number was not in service.

After I notified her, she provided the right number and, suddenly, I started receiving the applications.

I'm still waiting for two more, including a project in Western Kentucky worth more than $100 million in federal funding.

But the USDA says they'll send them to me next week.

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willis.jpg

Derek Willis

Tillamook County, Oregon, is famous for its cheese.

The Cheese Factory there has large bins at which visitors can freely sample its cheddar and other varieties before deciding what to take home.

Getting precinct-level election results from the county, however, is an exercise in frustration and expense. No free samples, or free anything.

In the middle of 2015, I began requesting precinct-level election results from counties in Oregon for OpenElections, a side project funded by the Knight Foundation.

The Secretary of State maintains county-level results, typically in electronic PDFs, so to get down to precinct level we need to ask county clerks across the state for their data.

Many of them post precinct results on their websites, but some don't, so we e-mailed a few to ask for results from 2000-2014.

In doing so, we were prepared to pay reasonable fees for them, as the Oregon Revised Statutes permit.

Local officials were quick to get back to us in every case, and their responses were straightforward. Here's an example, from Art Harvey, the Josephine County clerk and recorder:

"The reports you are interested in are available in PDF format. The cost would be $10.00 per election."

Other counties charged fees ranging from $25 (Umatilla County) to $45 (Wasco County) to $86.50 (Linn County, which sent us paper printouts of election results that we scanned).

And then there's Tillamook County, where Tassi O'Neil, the county clerk, set a price of $664 for PDF copies of precinct-level results for elections from 2000-2014.

I wondered how that price was calculated, so I asked.

O'Neil responded:

"The fee for each election is $3.75 locate fee and then .25 cents per page. That is the fee if it is a paper copy or if we send it in a PDF. That is the charge that the Oregon Revised Statutes say that we can/or should charge."

That is true, but there are two points here: One is that members of the public are being charged for pages of an electronic document. There are no paper copies involved in this process - the report itself is generated by a computer.

The other is that the Oregon Revised Statutes also say this:

"The custodian of any public record may furnish copies without charge or at a substantially reduced fee if the custodian determines that the waiver or reduction of fees is in the public interest because making the record available primarily benefits the general public."

There is no question in my mind that the public availability of election results is in the public interest. But O'Neil disagreed. When we asked for a waiver, she denied it.

There is an appeals process in Oregon, but it involves the county's district attorney, who is an elected official just like the county clerk. There is no independent board or state office that can review such appeals.

In the end, our volunteer project couldn't afford $664 for Tillamook's results, so we settled for paying more than $250 for elections from 2010-2014, which arrived promptly. As scanned PDFs.

As a final note, this year I checked to see if the Tillamook clerk had posted precinct results from the May presidential primary. She had not. As a desperate measure, I e-mailed a county commissioner and laid out the situation, making my case that election results should be freely available. In reply, the commissioner sent a copy of the precinct-level results PDF, but added no comments.

Knowing who to ask when the actual custodian of records is seeking to make money from your public records request is a skill, but it's not one that most people should have to develop.

But my sojourn in Oregon underscored a few other points: The current public records laws are out of date for the digital age; public officials like O'Neil can pretty much do whatever they want without fear of consequences; and too often treat public records as belonging to them, not the public.

When Sandra Fish, one of our volunteers, sought to take pictures of election results in Park County, Colorado, she was told that state law banned phones and computers from the clerk's office (it doesn't).

She eventually got the results, but only after filling out a form, waiting several days and paying for them.

Given the cost and effort involved to get this basic record of our democracy, it would hardly be surprising if people gave up before getting what they requested. I doubt that's what the authors of state and federal open records laws had in mind.

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

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Previously:

* Obama Worst FOIA President Ever.

* How Obama Undermined FOIA Reforms.

* Obama's FOIA Fail.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More Than Obama.

* Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

* Technologists Turn On Obama.

* EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

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

* Oscar And Pulitzer Award-Winning Journalist Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches.

* Obama: No Questions, Please!

* Sunlight Wins 13 Years Of Federal Contract Data.

* Workshop On Government's Openness Is Closed To Public.

* Government Could Hide Existence Of Records Under FOIA Rule Proposal.

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:26 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Hello, St. Joe

The St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Amtrak station around the corner in Michigan has shared its building with Silver Beach Pizza since 2005.

summerstop.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:14 AM | Permalink

July 21, 2016

Fantasy Fix: Replacing Clayton Kershaw

Let us start this exercise by admitting that it is impossible to replace Clayton Kershaw.

But, he's been out for a month, and quite possibly could be out for the rest of the season.

You're certainly not going to drop him, given there's still a chance he'll be back, but you're going to need another SP on your roster for the foreseeable future.

Here are a few recommendations among SPs who are surging, but not so widely owned:

Adam Conley, MIA: In his first full year in the majors, he's been inconsistent, and is now past 104 IP, finding himself in the late-season crucible that tests a young arm's ability to put up with long-term usage.

Having said that, he's been stunning over the last month, with three wins, 31 strikeouts in 29 IP, a 2.76 ERA and 0.99 WHIP for a contender. Could be the right time to buy.

Available in 59% of Yahoo! leagues.

Brandon McCarthy, LAD: Kershaw's roster mate will get more chances in Kershaw's absence.

He's always an injury concern, and in fact just started his season this month after coming back from Tommy John surgery.

But in a small sample size of three games, he's been great, with two wins, 22 strikeouts in 15 IP, 1.69 ERA, and magnificent 0.75 WHIP.

Available in 44% of Yahoo! leagues.

Anthony DeSclafani, CIN: Who is tied for the lead in wins over the last month among all SPs?

This guy, that's who.

The Reds aren't winning much, but they also haven't had to do much offensively with DeSclafani on the mound lately. Over the last 30 days, he has 36 strikeouts in 41 IP, 2.59 ERA and 0.98 WHIP.

Available in 41% of Yahoo! leagues.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:49 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

I'm having some internet issues so I'm just going to Twitterize today's column.

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There's never an egg timer around when you need one.

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Yes, and they're Trump delegates.

Trump got 34,000 primary votes in Chicago, so it wouldn't be hard to assemble a crowd like this again.

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Because that wouldn't be "objective."

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From our very own Tim Willette: She was thrown out of this convention for being too racist. That takes work.

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BeachBook

Stock Analysts Boost Papa John's On Belief That Civil Unrest Will Encourage More Pizza Delivery. Really.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Amused to death.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:56 AM | Permalink

July 20, 2016

U.S. Bombings In Syria Kill 77 Civilians, Including Children

Dozens of civilians, including children, were killed on Monday and Tuesday by U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria.

The strikes appeared to have been a mistake, with the civilians taken for Islamic State militants, the U.K.-based human rights group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group told the AFP news agency.

Fifty-six civilians were killed on Tuesday by coalition forces, and 21 civilians were killed by the coalition on Monday. The 77 civilian deaths included at least 11 children.

The BBC reported Tuesday:

"At least 56 civilians have died in US-led coalition air strikes near the Islamic State stronghold of Manbij in north Syria, opposition monitors say.

"The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said residents had been fleeing the village of Tokhar when they were hit.

"An opposition activist network said 90 had died in Tokhar and nearby Hoshriya.

"There was no immediate comment from the coalition, which has been providing air support for the Kurdish-led offensive to drive IS militants out of Manbij."

On Monday, France24 reported:

"Air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition killed at least 21 civilians in and around a stronghold of the Islamic State group in northern Syria on Monday, a monitor said.

"At least 15 civilians were killed in raids in a northern district of Manbij while six others were killed in a village near the city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights."

The UN Commission on Human Rights warned Friday that 70,000 civilians were likely trapped in Manbij, where the international body believes the situation is "deteriorating dramatically as fighting continues between ISIL and the Syrian Democratic Forces which is being supported by airstrikes."

Before the airstrike in Tokhar on Tuesday, Airwars, a website tracking U.S.-led coalition killings of civilians in Syria, said this is the "worst ever week" for deaths caused by the coalition in the two years since the conflict started.

The U.S. has in recent months been intensifying its airstrikes in Syria, as journalist and radio host Sonali Kolhatkar wrote in May.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights, an advocacy group based in the U.S. and the U.K, reported on social media that by Tuesday evening local time the civilian death toll from the day's strikes had reportedly climbed to 65, although the rights group has yet to verify that number:

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Airwars reported that nine families were among those killed by the U.S.-led coalition on Tuesday:

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Middle East Eye reports that the coalition did not respond to requests for comment on the recent civilian deaths. The news organization added:

"Raed Saleh, the leader of the Syrian Civil Defence Force which conducts humanitarian rescue missions in the rebel-held areas, told Middle East Eye in June that he had confronted the U.S.-led coalition about civilian deaths in September 2014.

"'Mistakes are likely to happen,' Saleh said he was told at the time."

Airwars estimates that the total number of civilians killed in Syria by the U.S.-led coalition is 1,422, at minimum, to date.

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

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Previously in Syria:
* 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.

* Syria's Stateless Children.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:50 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Before it was discovered to have been plagiarized from Michelle Obama, Melania Trump's speech yesterday at the 2016 Republican National Convention had initially been praised by members of both parties as one of the best speeches of the RNC, a moving performance," Oren Nimni writes for Current Affairs.

"If anything, the whole plagiarism scandal reflects somewhat poorly on Michelle Obama. One reason Obama's words were able to play so well at the RNC was that in the lifted passages, Obama was speaking using the conservative language of 'bootstrapping.' Obama's sentence, that 'the only limit' to one's achievements is the height of one's goal and the 'willingness to work' toward it, is the Republican story about America. It's the story of personal responsibility, in which the U.S. is overflowing with opportunity, and anyone who fails to succeed in such a land of abundance must simply not be trying hard enough.

"People on the left are supposed to know that it is a cruel lie to tell people that all they need to do is work hard. There are plenty of people with dreams who work very hard indeed but get nothing, because the American economy is fundamentally skewed and unfair. This rhetoric, about 'hard work' being the only thing needed for the pursuit of prosperity, is an insult to every tomato-picker and hotel cleaner in the country. It's a fact that those who work the hardest in this country, those come home from work exhausted and who break their backs to feed their families, are almost always rewarded the least."

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"Trump delegate Cynthia Schaffer of Tinley Park denied plagiarism. She says they were words 'anyone would say about her husband.'"

I give up.

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This would only be cool if Carson was actually introducing Him.

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The Kurson Convention

Ken's brother is Chicago author Bob Kurson, whose wife is the Kurson in Reyes Kurson, as in Victor Reyes. (Ken was, as many will remember, in the Chicago band Green.)

And:

Assignment Desk: The Kursons!

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Redaction Rahm
"A Cook County judge on Tuesday ordered the Emanuel administration to turn over e-mail chains sought by the Chicago Tribune related to the multimillion-dollar no-bid Chicago Public Schools contract that led to a federal criminal investigation and the resignation of schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett," the Tribune reports.

"Judge Anna Demacopoulos ruled that the city must turn over email chains the Tribune sought in a 2015 Freedom of Information Act request. The Tribune had sought 25 e-mail chains that contained correspondence to or from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and two of- his senior aides between Sept. 1, 2011, and Aug. 31, 2013. The city had withheld six email chains entirely, and it redacted portions of the remaining 19."

A spokesman for the city's law department responded to the ruling in what I can only imagine was a heavily redacted e-mail.

"The City is committed to complying with the Freedom of Information Act and each year it responds without objection to thousands of requests. While in this case we believed that the requested records were correctly withheld or properly redacted, we respect the court's ruling and will comply with it," Bill McCaffrey said in an e-mail.

I can state something here that the city's journalists will agree is 100% objective: The Emanuel administration is not committed to complying with the Freedom of Information Act.

The City may respond without objection to thousands of requests each year, but that's only because not everyone has the time, energy and resources (such as money) to object to being dealt with unlawfully.

When it comes to complying with the Freedom of Information Act, the Emanuel administration is a serial lawbreaker. Fact.

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"Demacopoulos' ruling was the latest legal victory for the Tribune in its ongoing disputes with the city over Freedom of Information Act requests. In late May, a Cook County judge ruled that Emanuel's e-mails, texts and other communications are not exempt from disclosure simply because they are transmitted over private devices. The city is seeking to appeal.

"In early June, another Cook County judge ordered the Chicago Police Department to give the Tribune e-mails from former police Superintendent Garry McCarthy's account. The Tribune had filed a lawsuit accusing the department of violating the Freedom of Information Act by failing to produce the e-mails."

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If you want to know how Rahm sets the tone of his administration from the top when it comes to transparency, revisit this classic 2012 interview he gave to the Trib's invaluable David Kidwell.

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Rahm's Happy Hour
"At the end of a year when he lost more principals than ever under his tenure, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to make nice with school leaders, inviting principals to a first happy hour reception the night before their budgets are due," the Sun-Times reports.

"'An evening with Mayor Rahm Emanuel for Chicago's principals,' read the invitation obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

"'We invite you to join us for a celebration to express our gratitude and appreciation to the principals of Chicago Public Schools. We wish to thank you for your hard work over the past year and to personally recognize you for your ongoing commitment to the students, teachers, families and communities of Chicago,' it continued.

"Drinks and appetizers are to be served Thursday evening in the Cancer Survivors Garden at Maggie Daley Park for 'all active principals,' Board of Ed members and top CPS brass. Added guests are not welcome 'due to limited capacity.'"

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Kremlinology:

Restricting the event to "all active principals" means mayoral thorn and possible election opponent Troy LaRaviere, the president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, is not invited.

Prohibiting "added guests" means "No teachers!"

"Due to limited capacity" means "We really mean it, Troy is not invited!"

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LaRaviere spoke to the Sun-Times and got off a good line:

"Rahm wants to buy you a drink. Ask him if he can buy you an assistant principal and a special-education teacher instead."

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Every principal who attends needs to ask Rahm to tell the world the truth about their budgets (see the item Mystery Meat).

The latest:

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"CPS declined to comment on the party, referring all questions to the mayor's office. Mayoral spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said the party had been planned before the budget deadline was set. She said the mayor is footing the bill - no city or district money will be used for the party. The mayor's office says more than 200 have said they will attend the event."

But capacity is limited - if your name is Troy and the principals at the event elected you to be their leader.

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Police Payoffs
"With frustration and resignation, the City Council's Finance Committee on Tuesday signed off on three more police misconduct settlements totaling $4.72 million, including the last of 25 lawsuits stemming from the dirty work of former Special Operations Section kingpin Jerome Finnigan," the Sun-Times reports.

Finnigan link added because readers can hardly be expected to remember his "dirty work," which is hardly described sufficiently later in the article. Hell, reporters don't even remember Finnigan's handiwork.

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"Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) asked for the 'grand total' of settlements triggered by Finnigan's actions. He was surprised to learn that the total - not including $550,000 to Cook - was $1.38 million.

"'Both this administration and the prior administration, given the large number of cases, I think did pretty well with settling many of them for a small amount of money,' [city lawyer Jenny] Notz said."

I'll say. The city got off easy on the Finnigan settlements - which is good for taxpayers, but bad for citizens that these cases weren't fully aired in court.

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An idea that I haven't fully researched:

"A petition to place a police insurance amendment on November's ballot was approved at a Minneapolis City Council committee meeting [last week]," the Minnesota Daily reports.

"Though the measure requires another step of council approval before it's placed on any ballot, the proposal - backed by the Committee for Professional Policing and more than 7,000 signatures - would require every Minneapolis Police Department officer to carry professional liability insurance.

"Under the amendment, Minneapolis would pay the base rate of the insurance. But if misconduct or lawsuits cause premium overages, the officer responsible would pay out of pocket."

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Meanwhile:

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DePaul DeMilo DeTwittered
"On Tuesday evening, [Twitter] permanently suspended the account of conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, a day after he incited his followers to bombard Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets," BuzzFeed reports.

Yiannopoulos's talk at DePaul in May was shut down by protesters who rushed the stage, touching off a furor (mostly) in right-wing precincts.

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U.S. Bombs In Syria Kill 77 Civilians Including Children
Before the airstrike in Tokhar on Tuesday, Airwars, a website tracking U.S.-led coalition killings of civilians in Syria, said this is the "worst ever week" for deaths caused by the coalition in the two years since the conflict started.

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Chicagoetry: I Walked Into Rainbo
And I need to take the Metra BNSF. And there's just no way.

-

BeachBook

Why Michael Jordan's House Has Been On The Market 4 Years.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Jarring.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: I Walked Into Rainbo

I Walked into Rainbo

I walked into Rainbo

I was naked, of course,
I was dreaming, of course, but

The place was packed and
I became naked (I
Didn't walk in naked)
But I was suddenly naked so
What do you do?

Where was Grigoroff?
I was looking for Grigoroff

Or was it Johnny Wetzel?
In this dream

We'd just marveled at how easily we went
Right back nearly 50 years
To familiar routines

In Moser Highlands
In Naperville

To sleeping bags on the floor of the
Rec room in front of the TV
For "Creature Features"

But I was also just in an apartment
With Grigoroff
And Blue Oyster Cult

They started the riff for "Don't Fear

The Reaper" and Buck Dharma
Had metal blades for legs
Like that guy from the Olympics

Pistorius, right, Oscar Pistorius

I knew the band was doing
Hard drugs and I said so
Afterwards to Grigoroff

"They were doing hard drugs,
Weren't they?"

Then we were in front of this diner
Near Ashland and Grand

Feeding plants with a clear gelatin
And I was singing "Chewy Chewy"
By 1910 Fruit Gum Company

Then we went into the diner
And I lost Grigoroff

Then I became naked again
And stressed about my naked butt
Brushing up against the tables
Full of people

Then I thought maybe
I was looking for Johnny Wetzel
Who wasn't there either

I was really uptight
About being naked in front
Of all those people
But what can you do?

You're embarrassed and anxious but
There's nothing you can do

And maybe you're just dreaming
But you're still embarrassed
You have to endure
The anxiety anyway

Then I had clothes on again thank God
And went outside
To find Grigoroff
And to remember the name of this diner

But it had just changed
And in fact they were changing it again
Right there as I stood in front with a few people
Asking if anyone remembered

What the old name was

And some guy said
It used to be a tire shop
But I didn't remember that
I couldn't figure it out

So I headed home
And that guy came along
Even though I didn't want him to
Heading west

Through backyard gardens
Just south of Grand
Heading west from Ashland to Western
But it was more like

Backyard gardens back

In Naperville
On 75th Street
Heading west from
Washington to Modaff

But we were just south of Grand
Heading toward
My old flat in West Town
When the guy ran ahead to my relief

Then I remembered

I live in Oak Park now shit
I actually need to get to the Blue Line

But then I was suddenly
In another diner where the Busy Bee
Was and I went up to the second floor
And out the window

Onto a ledge above Damen
And the waitress closed
The window behind me

I was stuck out on a ledge
Only a story up but still
No way down
And then I woke up

That always happens
In dreams
I'm heading to a home
I no longer have

Often in a landscape of
Compressed locations
Combining Naperville and Chicago

Like I'm nearing my boyhood home
Near St. Raphael's and I want
To ride my bike downtown
To Phyllis'

Then I remember Phyllis' is
In Chicago in Wicker Park
Not Naperville

And I need to take the Metra BNSF
And there's just no way

Almost home
Near St. Raphael's
When I remember
I don't live there anymore

And my mother is in fact now
Near the Carillon on the Riverwalk
At least that's real

Or again I'm headed toward
That old flat in West Town
When I remember
I don't live there anymore

But at least my sister
Is just a few blocks away
Then I remember
She doesn't live there anymore either

And in fact
I have to get back
To Oak Park

That naked thing in public
Recurs as does losing
Teeth; for some reason the teeth
Thing is one I recognize as likely
Being a dream

But am never convinced
Until I wake up
The naked thing is not so easily
Recognizable

And you're damned embarrassed
But what can you do?
That embarrassment, the anxiety, is real

I also often
End up on ledges but
Usually super-tall ones
This one was only about

A story up above Damen

But still
No way down
And I had to find
The Blue Line

I woke up to more
Sounds of night jet
Racing bikes on the
Expressway out front

That some of you may remember
From a previous poem
More of them than usual
Which must be

A Saturday night thing
And I pondered the
Anxiety that brought the dream on

The anxiety
Is real

And I know damn well
What that anxiety is

About

-

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

-

More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

July 19, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

The Politico Playbook summary of Day One of the Republican National Convention:

On Monday morning, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's campaign chief, said John Kasich, the popular governor of Ohio, was "embarrassing his state." Trump went on Fox News and said there is "something going on" with President Barack Obama's body language when he talks about violence in America. A mid-afternoon floor fight - which had the anti-Trump people squaring off against the rest of the party on live television - consumed the first few hours of the convention. Then, during the evening session, when the mother of a victim of the Benghazi attacks was on stage, Trump was conducting a simultaneous phone interview on Fox News. One of the GOP's rising stars, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, spoke to a mostly empty arena. And Melania Trump delivered an address that included entire paragraphs that appeared to be lifted from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech.

That's pretty good, but they missed a lot of white supremacy stuff, the further derangement of (America's Mayor) Rudy Giuliani, the absolute nuttiness of (America's Sheriff) David Clarke, and a speech by celebrity D-lister Scott Baio, literally because Trump ran into him the other day and said, "I got to have me some Chachi!"

*

The tweet in question from the Baio link:

*

To be fair:

*

*

*

You can think what you want - that's what makes it such a great meme!

*

Back to Clarke: The media likes to note that he is a Democrat, but they never seem to mention the reason why: He holds an elective office in Milwaukee County, which is akin to holding elective office in Cook County. It has nothing to do with ideology; he's as right-wing as they come.

*

A lot of variations of this data being heavily shared on social media to counter the Republicans' message of fear.

*

Oh, I almost forgot the former underwear model who is sure Barack Obama is a Muslim (not that there's anything wrong with it - except to the RNC).

*

I always hated this guy:

*

This is CNN:

*

ICYMI:

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Collateral Damage
"Sherrie Crabb went without pay for a third of the last fiscal year, laid off members of her staff, cut benefits for those who remained, and finally, closed the only homeless youth shelter in southern Illinois, all because the state legislature and governor couldn't agree on a budget," Lee V. Gaines reports for the Reader in "Budget Stalemate Wreaked Havoc On Illinois's Behavioral Health-Care Infrastructure."

"Crabb heads Family Counseling Center, a community mental health provider with 19 facilities spread across Illinois's seven southernmost counties. The organization serves a vast swath of the state with the 'highest poverty and unemployment rates,' she says.

"As Governor Bruce Rauner and house speaker Michael Madigan played what amounted to a game of fiscal chicken, Crabb's agency and dozens of other community mental health clinics had to make due without the hundreds of thousands of dollars promised to them by the state."

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Mystery Meat
"Chicago school budgets are being whacked this year, but district officials refuse to provide an accurate picture of school budgets as a whole," Sarah Karp reports for WBEZ.

"Many principals tell WBEZ that they will have to lay off teachers, even though CPS CEO Forrest Claypool declared that there will be no teacher layoffs and no cuts to the classroom."

From a forum last night:

*

*

*

*

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BeachBook

Meet our newest corporate citizen!

-

TweetWood
A sampling.

*

*

He must have his CNN hat on.

-

The Beachwood Tronc Line: A hard day's tronc.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:42 AM | Permalink

July 18, 2016

The [Monday] Papers

"Streets and Sanitation plows deviated from their normal course to clear a path to Ald. Ed Burke's fortress-like house after a major winter storm last year, City Hall's inspector general said Monday," the Sun-Times reports.

"[I]nvestigators found snow-removal crews hit the powerful City Council member's block on West 51st Street 46 times in five days after the fifth-largest winter storm in Chicago history paralyzed traffic on many local streets on Super Bowl Sunday last year."

So Burke's block was plowed nine times a day, on average - quite possibly more often than Rahm Emanuel yells at his police chief.

Ferguson suggested the practice of favoring Burke's block without reason had been going on for a long time, saying he found it "equally concerning" that an unidentified supervisor in Streets and San "was untroubled by the appearance of preferential treatment and assumed the route deviation was expected as a past practice."

Nevertheless, the inspector general's office did not to seek punishment of any city employee involved in the plowing that served the city's longest-serving alderman so well.

"The investigation did not reveal deliberate preferential treatment, but rather a welter of fundamental misunderstandings of responsibilities and expectations in the snow program," Ferguson said.

It was all just a welter of fundamental misunderstandings. Or, more like, a welter of fundamental understanding.

"A spokesman for Burke, who has been alderman for 47 years, did not respond to requests for comment Monday."

Perhaps he was hashing out the precise wording of his apology.

From February 2015:

Burke's spokesman, Donal Quinlan, says no strings were pulled.

The veteran alderman's street "is classified as an arterial street - not a side street," Quinlan said Tuesday. "As you are aware, all arterial streets get plowed faster."

As Quinlan is now aware, as if he needed an inspector general to tell him, Burke's block is not an arterial street. Or maybe he meant to say aldermanic streets get plowed faster. It's just understood.

Trumping Rauner
"The governor is clearly sending mixed messages, refusing all recent attempts by reporters to try and get him to clarify where he stands on Trump, while skipping a national convention where his party chairman declares the ILGOP is 'in lockstep' with the candidate," Rich Miller writes at Capitol Fax.

Bruce Rauner may not be a politician, but he sure plays one on TV.

*

Seriously, it's not asking too much to want to know if the governor of the state is in lockstep with a fascist neo-Nazi serial lying sociopath. This is the time to find out where everybody really stands.

*

So there you go.

*

Not everyone is being shy - or cowardly.

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A Tribute To The World's Most Interesting Uncle
Speaking of the Nazi resistance . . .

The Cub Factor: Cub Scouts
Don't drink, don't smoke, what do they do?

How The BBC Blew Brexit
"The decision to cover the referendum as though it were a cricket match, rather than a complex event in which every viewer and listener was actually a participant, rather than an observer, meant that in the days before the vote, fewer than a third of voters felt well, or very well, informed."

Wisconsin Court: Predictive Sentencing Must Come With Warning Labels
Software is frequently wrong - and biased against blacks.

The White Sox Report: Fire Sale
He never thought he'd say it, but it's tank time.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Savages, Car Seat Headrest, Miguel, Thundercat, Melomaniac, Propaganda, The Living Deads, Brian Wilson, Blood Orange with Carly Rae Jepsen, Shamir, G.W. Sok and Action Beat, John Carpenter, Digable Planets, Beach House, Whitney, Holly Herndon, Moose Blood, Helmet, Bulldozer, Exciter, Holy Ghost!, Woods, Neon Indian, Sun Ra Arkestra, FKA Twigs, Sufjan Stevens, Super Furry Animals, Girl Band, Jenny Hval, Old Grand Dad, JD McPherson, Trevor Hall, Tallest Man on Earth, Broken Social Scene, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Aaron Neville.

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BeachBook

DOJ Uses Ancient Computer System To Frustrate FOIA.

Most transparently frustrating ever.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

She also should have done her homework:

*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: We're gonna find out where you fans really stand.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:17 PM | Permalink

Fire Sale

Before he died a couple of years ago, Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner told the story about his contractual negotiations with the legendary Branch Rickey when both were employed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Of course, Rickey is best known as the general manager who courageously brought Jackie Robinson to major league baseball when Mr. Rickey was general manager of the Dodgers.

While acknowledging Rickey's monumental contribution to the game, Kiner had another view of the man known as The Mahatma. Without a union or an agent, each player negotiated his own contract, and Kiner disclosed that Rickey was determined to hold on to as many dollars as possible. Rickey's concept of player compensation was, politely, frugality. Kiner saw him as cheap.

Keep in mind that Kiner led the National League in home runs for seven consecutive seasons (1946-52) on a club that finished no higher than seventh place in an eight-team league from 1950 to 1957.

As Kiner remembered, he hit 37 dingers in 1952, little consolation on a team that finished 42-112. Venturing into Rickey's office the next winter to talk about his contract, the power hitter was offered a $25,000 pay cut. The two argued, postured, and tried to reason for a couple of hours until Rickey finally said, "Ralph, let me ask you a question."

"Sure, Mr. Rickey, go right ahead," Kiner replied.

"Where did we finish last year?"

"Well, we finished last, Mr. Rickey," Kiner answered.

"And we can finish last again without you," countered Rickey as the conversation abruptly ended.

The story has relevancy for today's Chicago White Sox, who bowed in infamy over the weekend in Anaheim, California, getting swept by an Angels team that entered the series 15 games under .500. So quite possibly it's time to ask, "How can this team be any worse without Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera and a number of other players who might bring in future talent from clubs such as the Red Sox, who have plenty of it?"

Rickey, in fact, dealt Kiner to the Cubs in the middle of the 1953 season and proceeded quietly to make moves such as drafting an unknown Puerto Rican kid named Roberto Clemente out of the Dodger organization. While Rickey wasn't around in 1960 when Pittsburgh won the World Series, he laid the groundwork for converting a moribund franchise into a winner.

So let's take a look at the carnage from last weekend. The Sox were outscored 16-1, being shut out Friday and Saturday despite more than decent starting pitching from Miguel Gonzalez and James Shields, two guys who were toiling elsewhere when the season opened.

The two shutouts, coupled with a 2-0 loss to the cellar-dwelling Braves in the final game before the All-Star break, matched the futility of the 1968 White Sox. who also were blanked three games in a row. In the ensuing 48 seasons, that hadn't happened until last week. By the way, did I mention that the '68 bunch finished 67-95?

However, there is promising news. When the Sox finally scored in the third inning on Sunday, it broke a streak of 34 2/3runless innings. That 1968 club went an astounding 39 1/3 frames without scoring, so this season's group snapped out of it almost five innings earlier. Somehow I'm underwhelmed.

Assuming that attaining a post-season berth is the objective, the Sox would have to go 41-30 the remainder of the season to match last year's Houston Astros, who snuck into the wild card with 86 wins. That was the lowest total since 2010, so figure that the White Sox would need a few more victories to qualify.

We thought we saw the depths when the club had a stretch of 26 losses in 36 games, but the futility of last weekend served as a reminder that this organization appears to be in deep trouble, so much so that dealing someone like Chris Sale could be the wisest strategy for the future.

You can't fault GM Rick Hahn for not trying. However, have the additions of Jimmy Rollins, Mat Latos, Adam LaRoche, Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy, Jeff Samardzija, Frazier, Cabrera and others resulted in a competitive ballclub?

The euphoria of 2005 wore off long ago. We deluded ourselves with the thought, "I'm content now. I saw the Sox win a World Series. I can't ask for more."

However, time works in predictable ways. Being a sub-.500 team going on four seasons tends to obscure past glories. We see all the outstanding young talent coming into baseball - look no further than nine miles north - and Sox fans wonder, where is our future? The arrival of shortstop Tim Anderson allayed some of those concerns, but he now looks as demoralized and confused as the other guys in the dugout.

No team ever looks alert and engaged when it's not hitting. Outsiders see lethargy even though the athletes may be trying to remain positive and optimistic. They talk about grinding, a long season, adversity, and grit.

What we see are hitters taking fastballs right down the middle while swinging at sliders in the dirt. Jared Weaver came into Sunday's game with a 7-7 record and a 5.27 ERA. The speed gun clocked him at no higher than 87 mph, and the majority of his pitches were in the mid-70s. This was nothing new. The Sox saw him back in April when the South Siders were leading the division. Yet Weaver beat them 3-2 then, and he allowed only six hits in seven innings on Sunday. Why can't Ventura's hitters make adjustments and learn from their ineptitude?

On Saturday, the Angels starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker entered with a 4-9 record and an ERA of 4.45. He wound up pitching a six-hit, 1-0 shutout, striking out 13 Sox hitters while registering his first complete game ever after 70 incomplete outings.

When the Sox face the league's better pitchers, like the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka or the Indians' Danny Salazar, the story is no different. Both have beaten the Sox in recent weeks by 9-0 and 13-2 counts, respectively, in games where the Sox weren't competitive. It doesn't matter whom the Sox are facing. They fail to move runners and frequently can't score with guys on base and less than two outs.

The Sox dealing Sale, Quintana, or closer David Robertson most assuredly would result in another 90-plus losses. But as this team continues its journey in mediocrity, what is the alternative? Adding a face here or there doesn't figure to alter the course of where this club is headed. Fire Robin Ventura? This franchise that rewards loyalty more than grand slam home runs is averse to making a change in midseason.

Maybe history can be a guide. Looking back to the late 60s, the Sox lost 295 games over the three seasons of 1968-70. They were pitching-rich with the likes of Tommy John, Gary Peters, Joe Horlen and Wilbur Wood, but their hitters were even more inept than today's edition. The 1968 club had a team batting average of .228.

Finally, John was dealt to the Dodgers for Dick Allen, a man with plenty of baggage but just as much talent. Chuck Tanner was hired as manager. John went on to win 288 games over 26 seasons - the surgery which bears his name was a major factor - while Allen won an MVP award in 1972 before walking out on the team two seasons later.

Trading a 28-year-old left-hander like Tommy John was a risky move, but it turned out to be a quick fix as Allen gave the team an immediate lift. The game may be much different today, but clearly the White Sox need to take a few risks to escape the current doldrums.

Now could be the time.

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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 9:07 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Savages at Pitchfork on Saturday.

Cristo: Incredible as usual.

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2. Car Seat Headrest at Pitchfork on Friday.

Cory: Ill at ease.

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3. Miguel at Pitchfork on Sunday night.

MAT Mag Kat: Absolute murder.

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4. Thundercat at Pitchfork on Sunday night.

Anderson: Blown away.

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5. Melomaniac at Subterranean on Friday night.

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6. Propaganda at Subterranean on Friday night.

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7. The Living Deads at Subterranean on Friday night.

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8. Brian Wilson at Pitchfork on Saturday night.

Kot: Looks like a bystander at his own concert.

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9. Blood Orange with Carly Rae Jepsen at Pitchfork on Saturday.

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10. Shamir at Pitchfork on Friday night.

Kot: Deserves a bigger stage.

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11. G. W. Sok and Action Beat at the Burlington on Friday night.

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12. John Carpenter at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

Setlist.

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13. Digable Planets at Pitchfork on Saturday.

Mullane: Delivered the cool.

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14. Beach House at Pitchfork on Friday night.

Gendron: Yawn.

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15. Whitney at Pitchfork on Friday.

Lucke and Cavazos: Sounds like what sipping a nice craft beer feels like.

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16. Holly Herndon aftershow at Constellation on Sunday night.

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17. Moose Blood at Subterranean on Saturday night.

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18. Helmet at an Open Air Festival aftershow at the Double Door on Friday night.

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19. Bulldozer at Reggies for Metal Threat Fest on Friday night.

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20. Exciter at Metal Threat on Friday night.

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21. Holy Ghost! at Pitchfork on Sunday.

Amato: A pleasant surprise.

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22. Woods at Pitchfork on Sunday.

Gendron: Rustic, peaceable, strolling.

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23. Neon Indian at Pitchfork on Sunday.

Dance-rock victor or Men at Work?

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24. Sun Ra Arkestra at Pitchfork on Sunday.

Long: Primed the hyperdrive with spiraling melodies.

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25. FKA Twigs at Pitchfork on Sunday night.

Kot: Both fascinating and forbidding.

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26. Sufjan Stevens at Pitchfork on Saturday night.

Lipschutz: Perplexing.

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27. Super Furry Animals at Pitchfork on Saturday.

Mullane: A good weird.

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28. Girl Band at Pitchfork on Saturday.

Johnston: Love.

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29. Jenny Hval at Pitchfork on Saturday night.

Gendron: The most bizarre showing in Pitchfork history.

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30. Old Grand Dad at Subterranean on Friday night.

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31. JD McPherson at SPACE in Evanston on Thursday night.

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32. Trevor Hall at Park West on Thursday night.

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33. Tallest Man on Earth at the Vic on Friday night.

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34. Broken Social Scene at Pitchfork on Friday night.

Cory: I still don't understand how they work.

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35. Oneohtrix Point Never at Pitchfork on Sunday night.

Gendron: Nightmarish and alienating.

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36. Aaron Neville at City Winery on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:09 AM | Permalink

Wisconsin Court: Predictive Sentencing Needs Warning Labels

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday raised concerns about a risk assessment tool that scores criminal defendants on their likelihood of committing future crimes and is increasingly being used during sentencing.

The court said judges may consider such scores during sentencing, but it said that warnings must be attached to the scores to flag the tool's "limitations and cautions." (Read the opinion.)

The court's ruling cited a recent ProPublica investigation into COMPAS, the popular software tool used to score defendants in Wisconsin and in other jurisdictions across country.

Our analysis found that the software is frequently wrong, and that it is biased against black defendants who did not commit future crimes - falsely labeling them as future criminals at twice the rate as white defendants.

(The software is owned by a for-profit company, Northpointe, which disputes our findings.)

Northpointe's software is just one of many risk and needs assessment tools currently in use across the country. These tools are used in different stages of the criminal justice system in various jurisdictions. In Wisconsin, Northpointe's software is used at every decision point in the prison system, from sentencing to parole.

Risk and needs assessment scores were designed to make the criminal justice system fairer, by providing evidence-based methods to aid decisions about defendants. But there are few standards to ensure the underlying tests are accurate and transparent. The exact formula underlying Northpointe's software is proprietary. That means many defendants are getting rated as potential future criminals without knowing the basis for their scores.

Using risk assessment tools to inform sentencing is perhaps the most controversial aspect of their adoption, especially since the manufacturers of many of the tools themselves say that this is not their intended use.

The case decided in Wisconsin on Wednesday was brought by Eric Loomis, who pleaded guilty to driving a stolen car and evading police in 2013. At sentencing, Loomis's trial judge in La Crosse County cited his high risk scores as justification for giving Loomis six years in prison for those crimes, plus another two-and-a-half years for violating his parole.

Judge Scott Horne said Loomis had been "identified, through the COMPAS assessment, as an individual who is at high risk to the community."

Loomis and his lawyers challenged the sentence, saying in part that his due process rights had been violated by the judge's reliance on an opaque algorithm that generated a score he couldn't directly challenge.

In Wednesday's opinion, the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected Loomis' arguments, writing that the risk scores can be used in conjunction with other considerations, if they are used properly. But the justices also cautioned that due process could be violated in future cases if judges don't fully understand the limitations of the tool.

"Although we ultimately conclude that a COMPAS risk assessment can be used at sentencing, we do so by circumscribing its use," Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote.

The court wrote that ProPublica's analysis and others' "raise concerns regarding how a COMPAS assessment's risk factors correlate with race."

It also noted that Wisconsin has not tested and calibrated the software specifically for the state's population.

The court ruled that judges looking at the scores during sentencing must get the following warnings about COMPAS' accuracy: the fact that it is a proprietary tool whose inner workings may not be transparent; that the tool has not yet been cross-validated for Wisconsin's population; that studies have raised questions about potential racial disproportionality; and that risk assessment tools should be constantly tested and adjusted for accuracy as populations change.

The ruling also repeatedly stressed that a risk score cannot be the "determinative factor" in deciding whether someone gets incarcerated or gets probation instead.

Christopher Slobogin, director of the criminal justice program at Vanderbilt Law School, called the decision "one of the most sophisticated judicial treatments of risk assessment instruments to date" for its detailed analysis of risk assessment tools and its acknowledgment of all of their various limitations.

Still, it's not clear how the ruling will affect sentencing judges' decision-making.

"The court says that COMPAS may not be determinative in increasing sentence severity or whether an offender is incarcerated," said Slobogin. "But of course, all things being equal, a high risk score will make it much less likely a person will get the minimum sentence or avoid incarceration."

In other words, the opinion mandates warnings and instructions that might, in reality, be hard for judges to actually follow.

Loomis's attorney, and the Wisconsin Attorney General's office, which represented the state, both declined to comment on the ruling.

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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 4:36 AM | Permalink

How The BBC Blew Brexit

As Britain reflects on the fallout from the EU Referendum, analysis from Loughborough University demonstrates that the BBC, in common with all other media, ignored concerns of Labor voters in favor of an entirely artificial notion of "balance" that was pitched as a ball-by-ball commentary of a Conservative power struggle.

Labor members canvassing in the streets and housing estates, waited in vain for the BBC - the country's most trusted news source - to provide any serious analysis that could back up the Labor message on the doorstep. They had been expecting the BBC to deliver, as promised, "impartial and independent reporting of the campaign, providing them with fair coverage and rigorous scrutiny of the policies and campaigns of all relevant parties and campaign groups."

Television is bound by rules of impartiality and the BBC is committed to ensuring that "a range of views is appropriately reflected" in its coverage. In spite of this, David Deacon, professor of communication and media analysis at Loughborough, found that all television channels covered the campaign in very much the same way as each other - and the press.

In the first month, up to June 8, the Labor Party had attracted a mere 6% of the campaign coverage on TV (less even than the 9% in the press). The Conservatives, meanwhile, grabbed 32% of the coverage.

For a brief period in mid-June, as former prime minister Gordon Brown entered the fray, Labor's share of the political spotlight increased. But interest in the Labour message was not sustained. In the final count of the frequency of appearances by media sector, Labor members figured in 10% of the TV coverage. The Conservatives provided almost 30%.

Blame Corbyn?

For many in the "Labor In" campaign, the problem was the lukewarm approach taken by Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was criticized by campaign leader and veteran MP Alan Johnson, for "actively undermining the party's efforts."

However, by the end of the campaign, Corbyn had made 6.1% of all media appearances while Johnson figured in less than 1%. Given that accounts of the campaign suggest Johnson was far more actively engaged than Corbyn, this points to an editorial decision to ignore Labor Party campaigners in favor of highlighting what felt like the more high-profile battle between the Conservative "big beasts."

By the later stages of the campaign, when it had begun to be clear that the final decision now rested on the votes of Labor voters in the old industrial heartlands, simple journalistic nous might have encouraged the BBC's political team to find out what issues were likely to influence this key constituency and to seek out those politicians who represented them. Anecdotal evidence, that was not reflected in news bulletins, suggested that activists were finding a frustrating lack of knowledge about the campaign and Labor's position on the doorsteps.

Crucial Concerns Ignored

By focusing entirely on the Conservatives, the BBC failed to address the concerns of a very large section of its audience. The editorial team appeared not to understand that concerns about the impact on the economy and the City would not register with people for whom the City is considered to be directly responsible for the recession, austerity, job losses and the benefit curbs that came with it.

Links could have been made with the issues that the Labor Party wanted to focus on: jobs, employment rights, the health service and prices, but these topics barely made the news agenda. By June 22, employment had received 3.4% of the television coverage and health garnered 1.7%. The possibility of rising prices didn't figure at all. By far the biggest category, with 28.9% of coverage, was the conduct of the campaign itself.

The BBC's assistant political editor, Norman Smith, justified this approach on its Radio 4 Feedback program by explaining:

"We are there to report what the main combatants in this referendum say, do, argue. I don't think it's up to us to, as it were, go AWOL and say well, fine, but we're actually going to talk about this because we think that's what voters are interested in."

Really Not Cricket

The decision to cover the referendum as though it were a cricket match, rather than a complex event in which every viewer and listener was actually a participant, rather than an observer, meant that in the days before the vote, fewer than a third of voters felt well, or very well, informed.

There has already been a lot of concern expressed at the failure of the BBC to address the obvious lies being peddled in the campaign and the decision to give each side the opportunity to rebut any attempt by experts to correct such misinformation.

While it is true that social media was important in consolidating the Leave campaign, it is also true that most of what is circulated on social media (whatever the platform) originates in the mainstream. The BBC is not only the most watched new source, it is also the most shared. Audiences cannot watch or share information that isn't there.

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Angela Phillips is a professor at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is also affiliated with the Media Reform Coalition and a member of Labor. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:07 AM | Permalink

A Tribute To The Most Interesting Uncle In The World

Editor's Note: Last Wednesday, our very own Natasha Julius announced to the world that she had birthed a son, Djuka Julius Peterson. "Pronunciation guide, please!" editor Steve Rhodes asked. "JOO-kuh," Natasha replied. Then, a few days later, the following e-mail landed in the inbox of a few lucky folks. We thought we'd share.

Dear Friends,

In 1939, fearing a Nazi occupation, my father's family fled their home in Zagreb, Croatia, and joined the partisan resistance. My father was ten and his older brother 14. The resistance needed every hand they could get, so once my father's family fled their home in Zagreb they all joined up. My father worked as a messenger until he was evacuated to Italy two years later. His mother, a nurse, joined him shortly thereafter. His father, who prior to the Nazi invasion had run one of the only psychiatric hospitals in Yugoslavia, served as a medic near the front lines. The older son joined the infantry.

When he was about 16, my uncle's unit was ambushed and he was shot in the shoulder. After the fighting stopped, the triumphant SS soldiers walked through the field shooting any partisan survivors. The one that found my uncle stood over him for a moment and crowed in German, "How does the SS shoot?"

He had probably said that to a dozen terrified, uncomprehending peasants before killing them, so he wasn't expecting what happened next. My uncle responded, in perfect German, that he was a spy sent to infiltrate the resistance. "Don't shoot me," he said, "I can still be useful."

The SS soldier searched my uncle and soon found his papers and, more damagingly, an emergency medical kit issued by the British RAF. He threw it in my uncle's face and told him, "Whoever gave you this can take care of you." Then he shouted to his commander that there were no more survivors.

The RAF did come and patch my uncle up, and he went on to fight more battles. The family was reunited after the war, but only briefly - when Tito's purges began, the tide turned for the family and my father and uncle both fled. My uncle spent some time in Cuba and South America before settling in Mexico and becoming a successful journalist. (For those keeping count, that's three languages; he was also fluent in Russian, English, Italian and Hebrew.)

He was, to my memory, a caring if not entirely engaging uncle. He taught me how to swim, patiently making me practice every hand position so I wouldn't panic and drown. I asked if I could touch the deep scars on his shoulder and he obliged. When I asked how he had gotten them he simply said, "in the war." He never boasted about outsmarting the Nazis. To him, it wasn't a moment of genius or bravery, but one of extreme vulnerability. And if you want to survive, you can't show any vulnerability. Be clever, or better yet, be charming if you need to, but never let anyone know you're scared. That''s how he was able to teach me to swim despite rarely venturing into the water himself (at 13, he'd cracked his head open diving into a half-empty swimming pool to impress a girl).

No one knows the details of his life, but that was his governing philosophy. Don't panic. Be brave, but have the sense not to boast about it. It's better to seem like the coolest man in the room than the smartest, even if you're probably both. And for the most part it worked. He lived comfortably and had access to power, he knew everyone worth knowing (if you ask nicely, I'll show the pictures of him at a press junket for To Catch a Thief, holding Hitchcock and Cary Grant in rapt attention). But living well has its own costs, and a pasty Jewish man can only spend so many years lounging on the beaches of Mexico with his glamorous second wife before it catches up with him. And despite his prodigious talents, you can't charm cancer.

My uncle came to stay with us when I was 16. He had convinced my father, by then a famous cardiologist, to get him into an experimental trial despite the fact he was probably too old and too far gone. He was dying, but he'd faced death before and guess who'd blinked? We grew closer during that time. He would wake me up early in the morning to help him wash his hair and get dressed, then tell me to go back to sleep for a while. That way, when the rest of the family came to breakfast he was there to greet them, dignified and poised as ever. Only he and I knew he couldn't button his shirts anymore. Then one day, the week before I started my senior year of high school, he filed his last column, went into the hospital and died.

He would hate that I've shared his story with you. He was proud and stubborn and he had no time for any kind of sentiment. At least that's what he wanted everyone to think. I knew him a little and, although he'd never admit it, I think he would appreciate a well-reasoned tribute.

That was my uncle. Djuka Julius.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

July 17, 2016

Cub Scouts

Kris Bryant says he has never had an alcoholic drink in his life. He's 24.

That's not right.

Is he immune to advertising? A cold beer with your buds!

Immune to movies? A martini shaken, not stirred!

Immune to music? He must not have friends in low places. He never slips on down to the oasis?

I'm reminded of something I wrote last fall, which started like this:

It's really not true that the Cubs are no longer cute or lovable. In fact, they're a little too cute for my taste. Their home runs leave rainbow chemtrails, and unicorn horns burst from their foreheads when they gallop the basepaths. Some of them are barely old enough to legally drink the celebratory Champagne in the clubhouse; others are old enough but too angelic, as if they don't want to displease their parents, who will be mad enough that their clothes are doused in alcohol, much less their bloodstream. I really wouldn't want to party with these guys because it'd be all Katy Perry and birthday cake. It kind of makes me want to vomit.

Is a little grit too much to ask for? You're the Cubs, not a Cub Scout troop. Be men!

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Week in Review: Bryant hit a home run off Chris Sale in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, while Jake Arrieta punked out of the proceedings. Then the Cubs took two of three from the AL-leading Texas Rangers, improving their record for July to 4-9.

Week in Preview: The Mets come in to frustrate the Cubs for three and then the boys in blue hit the road for three in Milwaukee. With the Crosstown Classic following the Brewers' series, and the Mariners and Marlins coming to town after that, the Cubs will have the luxury of going almost a month without having to get on a plane.

Musical Outfielders: And no we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. Second baseman Ben Zobrist and catcher Willson Contreras each got starts in LF during the Rangers series. Third baseman Kris Bryant got a start in RF and moved to LF later in the same game. Right fielder Jason Heyward got two starts in RF and one start in CF, and then moved to RF later in the same game. Centerfielder Albert Almora Jr., not to be confused with Albert Almora Sr., got two starts in CF. Reserve outfielder Matt Szczur got one start in LF and pinch hit in the other two games.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: Ryan Dumpster Fire, who once reportedly vetoed a trade because his Twitter hurt his feelings, successfully bid last week for the job of replacing Jim Belushi as the team's most annoying celebrity mascot, with a soul-crushing Friday spent at the ballpark parading around as Harry Caray. To wit:

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Current Annoying Cub of the Week: On doctor's orders, Jason Hammel is eating potato chips during games to keep his potassium up so he doesn't suck fall off a cliff like he always does in the second half of the season. Reporters failed to ask if he preferred ridges.

Mad(don) Scientist: You know, "Try Not To Suck" isn't actually a very clever witticism. In fact, none of them are.

Kubs Kalender: On Tuesday, the first 10,000 fans to the ballpark will get free Cubs pajama bottoms courtesy of American Airlines, which in no way makes up for the complete infeasibility of falling asleep on their flights due to seating more uncomfortable than Ryan Dempster's Harry Caray impersonation. Perfect for theme trips, though!

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Ryan Dempster is a very lonely man.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:48 PM | Permalink

July 16, 2016

The Weekend Desk Report

"In 1917, Melvin Jones, a 38-year-old Chicago business leader, asked a straightforward and world-changing question: 'What if people put their talents to work improving their communities?'" the Seal Beach Sun of California reports.

"With this issue and some vibrant leadership, almost 100 years later, Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization.

"Our 'Pride of Lions' is 1.37 million members in more than 46,000 clubs and countless stories of Lions acting on the same simple idea: let's improve our communities."

The local Lions Club is having its annual Fish Fry this weekend.

"So be sure to come down on to the Fish Fry and enjoy music, some age-appropriate beverages, fish, hot dogs or brats and the best of Seal Beach's laid-back community feel.

"Be sure to carpool too; it is an excellent way to avoid filling up all that parking on residential streets.

"Prices: Fish and Chips Dinner: $10 / $8 children. Braut / Cajun Sausage Dinner: $7. Hot Dog Dinner: $6. Beer 16 oz. & Wine 9 oz: $6 /$6. Water / Soda / Lemonade Beverages: $1. Fries (ala carte): $2."

Chicago, South Carolina
"A family that owns three Mexican restaurants in York County has branched out into a new venture: Hartland's, an eatery and sports bar near the Rock Hill Galleria," the Rock Hill Herald reports.

"Hartland's Bar, at 2260 Cross Pointe Drive in the Food Lion shopping center, opened in late June. It offers a large menu with appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, wings, salads, seafood and more, plus a bar with 18 beers on tap and a variety of signature cocktails. Lots of televisions give patrons the chance to watch their favorite teams.

"Charlie Ramirez, who owns the business with his parents, Freidy and Maria Ramirez, said they have more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant business, including about 15 years in York County . . .

"Ramirez said his parents both grew up in Chicago. He said Hartland's Bar is named after Hartland Court, a street in Chicago where his mother, Maria, was living when she and his father met.

"A colorful mural image of Hartland Court is posted on a wall at the entrance to the bar area. Ramirez said he and his siblings were in Chicago last summer, and took pictures of that street. His father had the image made into a poster to be displayed on the wall."

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See the header on the bar's Facebook page.

My Boys
There are tons of stories like this across America; it always amuses me that Chicago staples are exported as a thing. At least this one includes tater tots.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: All-Star Weak
Starring Jake the Snake. lus: Breaking: Cubs Not Only Team With Great Players!; The Plan! The Plan!; White Sox (Sort Of) Winning; and Chicago Baseball Is Now Chew-Free. With awesome Show Notes, as always.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "It's not a political rally without a crowd-pumping and uplifting playlist. But political campaign teams are not always great music tastemakers. NPR's National Political Correspondent Don Gonyea talks with Jim and Greg about hearing the same songs over and over on the campaign trail. Then they play campaign managers and make a list of better campaign theme songs. Plus, a review of the long-awaited second album from The Avalanches."

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Weekend TweetWood

Yes, by the media within minutes of the attack.

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The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: All tronced up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:35 AM | Permalink

July 15, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #111: All-Star Weak

Starring Jake the Snake. Plus: Breaking: Cubs Not Only Team With Great Players!; The Plan! The Plan!; White Sox (Sort Of) Winning; and Chicago Baseball Is Now Chew-Free.


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SHOW NOTES

* 111.

:24: All-Star Weak.

* Haw haw.

* Jake Arrieta Was Too Tired To Pitch, Go To ESPYs To Get His Award.

* Verducci: The Year After Effect.

* Colbert Rubs Cubs.

I dunno, Coach, looks like Arrieta was just playing along!

* That All-Star Game Seemed Like A Lot Of Fun For Mets Fans!

9:40: Breaking: Cubs Not Only Team With Great Players!

* Cubs Flub (Item 3).

* Cameron's NL All-Star team: Kris Bryant, LF; Anthony Rizzo, DH.

20:34: Proposed: A Pension Plan For College Football Players.

22:15: The Plan! The Plan!

* Rhodes: The Fallacy Of How The Cubs Were Built.

vs.

* Morrissey: What Rhodes Said.

* Dave Dombrowski Has Been Good At Trading Prospects.

* Let's face it: This season will be a failure if the Cubs don't win the World Series.

* Scott Feldman's ERA (2.56) is now better than Jake Arrieta's (2.68).

* Internal options: Joe Nathan, Brian Matusz.

* Fagerstrom: The Hole In Jason Heyward's Swing Is Glaring.

38:54: White Sox (Sort Of) Winning.

* The Cubs Need Help.

* White Sox Activate Justin Morneau, Promote Carson Fulmer.

* The Cubs don't have to get on a plane for three weeks.

* A single Cubs game costs about as much as Rahm's property tax refund.

55:44: Chicago Baseball Is Now Chew-Free.

* Chris Sale Quit Chewing The Day Tony Gwynn Died.

1:03:02: Blackhawks Sign Mark McNeill!

1:03:09: Bulls Advance To Summer League Quarterfinals!

1:03:17: Chicago Fire Snuffs Out Sporting KC's Five-Match Unbeaten Streak!

1:03:32: Chicago Sky Wasting Elena Delle Donne In Prime Of Her Career!

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STOPPAGE: 4:18

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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 5:05 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"The Double Door rock club must eventually vacate the Wicker Park space it has occupied for more than 20 years because management failed to properly notify its landlord last year it wished to extend its lease, a Cook County judge ruled Thursday," the Tribune reports.

"Circuit Court Judge Orville Hambright Jr. asked Double Door management and landlord Brian Strauss to return to court Aug. 4 to determine when the club must leave 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave."

Brian Strauss, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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"Strauss said he has no set plans for a future tenant."

So The Double Door Lofts at Wicker Park Square is just a rumor?

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"[Co-owner Sean] Mulroney said he hashed out Double Door's initial agreement with Strauss' father, Harry, over Old Style beers in 1994."

That's when the neighborhood was still real, my friends. Now it's donuts and douchebags.

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"Double Door's been a longtime tenant of mine. Its time has come to an end. Now a new future will be coming up," Strauss said. "We never forced 'em out."

No, you just had a judge force them out.

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From Wikipedia:

"July 14, 2016 a Judge ruled that Double Door must vacate the premises. Most importantly, the Judge ruled that Brian Strauss hates Rock And Roll."

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Dome Car
On the Amtrak, Grand Rapids to Chicago.

Chicago Baseball Goes Chew-Free Today
Not Maddon's bag, man.

The Terror Suspect Who Had Nothing To Give
"The United States waterboarded Zubaydah 83 times. According to his statement, he was also hung from hooks, 'shackled to a chair naked in freezing temperatures,' and bombarded with loud noises that kept him awake for days.

"While shackled and being screamed at, he was forced to stand naked in front of a woman. 'When I refused to talk with a woman present, [name blacked out] beat my head against the wall repeatedly.'

"In between waterboarding sessions, he was placed in what he called a 'dog box,' a wooden container that was about 2 1/2 feet long, 2 1/2 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet high.

"'The pain in the small box was unbearable,' he said in his declaration. 'I was hunched over in a contorted way and my back and knees were in excruciating pain. I began slamming my body and shackled arms against the inside and screaming for help and tried to break the door. The wound in my stomach and leg opened up and I started bleeding; yet I didn't care: I would do anything to stretch my leg and back for 1 minute.'

"At night, he was placed in a slightly larger, coffin-like box.

"His interrogators screamed questions and at times he pleaded: 'Tell me what you want me to say, I will say it!' At other times, 'I just said things that were false and that I had no basis to know or believe simply to get relief from the pain.'"

The United States believed he was Al-Qaeda's No. 3. They were horribly wrong. Go read it all.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Julie Ruin, Daylight Robbery, Wolfmother, Schoolboy Q, Post Child, Walrus Attack, Warrior Tribes, Marissa Nadler, Silent Age, Rakta, Femi Kuti, Violent Femmes, and Le Butcherettes.

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BeachBook

Rape, Murder, Famine - And $2.1 Million For K Street PR.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Jonc in the tronc.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:07 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Julie Ruin at Thalia Hall on Thursday night.

Kot: Kathleen Hanna Hits Reset Button In High Style.

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2. Daylight Robbery at the Burlington on Wednesday night.

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3. Wolfmother at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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4. Schoolboy Q at the Concord on Monday night.

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5. Post Child at the Empty Bottle on Sunday night.

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6. Walrus Attack at Reggies on Sunday night.

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7. Warrior Tribes at the Burlington on Wednesday night.

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8. Marissa Nadler at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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9. Silent Age at the Burlington on Wednesday night.

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10. Rakta at the Burlington on Wednesday night.

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11. Femi Kuti at Millennium Park on Monday night.

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12. Violent Femmes at the Concord on Tuesday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Le Butcherettes at Ruido Fest in Pilsen on Saturday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:25 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: The Dome Car

On the Amtrak, Grand Rapids to Chicago.

domecar.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

The Terror Suspect Who Had Nothing To Give

"I would be strapped to a board by my arms and legs and by my waist (which was very painful because of my wound.)

Guards with black costumes, masks and black goggles strapped me in. My mouth and nose and eyes were covered by a cloth.

The board - and my body - were placed horizontally. My head was immobilized by a board. Someone poured over the cloth, which entered my mouth and nose. I could hear one water bottle empty out by the gurgling noise it made; I hoped that would end the process, then I heard another bottle start to pour.

Water would enter my lungs. I felt like my whole body was filled with water; even my eyes felt like they were drowning. I experienced the panicked sensation of death and my body convulsed in terror and resistance.

"I thought 'I will die. I will die.' I lost control of my functions and urinated on myself. At the last possible moment, I instantly vomited water violently but at the same time was still panicked and desperate for air."

In 2009, Abu Zubaydah's lawyers interviewed their client and prepared a handwritten, first-person account of the torture their client suffered at the hands of the U.S. government.

The document, quoted above, recounts the terrifying experience of a man repeatedly waterboarded in the mistaken belief that he was al-Qaeda's No. 3 official. It was filed in federal court as part of his lawsuit seeking release from Guantanamo, and like nearly all the documents in the case, was sealed at the government's request.

Now, seven years later, Zubaydah's statement, which he signed under oath, has been released, and it provides the most detailed, personal description yet made public of his "enhanced interrogation" at a Central Intelligence Agency "black site" in Thailand.

The United States waterboarded Zubaydah 83 times. According to his statement, he was also hung from hooks, "shackled to a chair naked in freezing temperatures," and bombarded with loud noises that kept him awake for days.

While shackled and being screamed at, he was forced to stand naked in front of a woman. "When I refused to talk with a woman present, [name blacked out] beat my head against the wall repeatedly."

In between waterboarding sessions, he was placed in what he called a "dog box," a wooden container that was about 2 1/2 feet long, 2 1/2 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet high.

"The pain in the small box was unbearable," he said in his declaration. "I was hunched over in a contorted way and my back and knees were in excruciating pain. I began slamming my body and shackled arms against the inside and screaming for help and tried to break the door. The wound in my stomach and leg opened up and I started bleeding; yet I didn't care: I would do anything to stretch my leg and back for 1 minute."

At night, he was placed in a slightly larger, coffin-like box.

His interrogators screamed questions and at times he pleaded: "Tell me what you want me to say, I will say it! " At other times, "I just said things that were false and that I had no basis to know or believe simply to get relief from the pain."

* * *

Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in March 2002. Senior government officials, including President George W. Bush, immediately boasted that they had seized "one of the top three leaders of al-Qaeda."

Years later, the government admitted it had been mistaken about Zubaydah. In a court filing, it said Zubaydah had no involvement or advance knowledge of 9/11, knew nothing about future plots against America, and was not even a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. He nonetheless remains imprisoned at Guantanamo as an "enemy combatant."

The case of Abu Zubaydah is part of a contentious political debate about the morality and tactical value of waterboarding. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has said he approves of the technique, among others, to obtain information from terror suspects. The former director of central intelligence, Michael Hayden, said the agency would never do it again and that it would tell any future president: "If you want somebody waterboarded, bring your own damn bucket."

In his statement, Zubaydah says a person visited him while he was still in one of the agency's secret prisons and apologized for the false accusations and his horrific treatment.

The two men "got into a political discussion about my beliefs and my desire for a Palestinian homeland, my opposition to violence against civilians and that I had no interest in hurting Americans or fighting against them," Zubaydah recounted in his statement.

"He understood this. During this conversation he admitted to me that the U.S. was wrong about me. He said he had no problem doing what he did to Khalid Sheik Mohammed," a confirmed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks who was also waterboarded. "But he was very sorry about what had been done to me, because I was not the person they once thought I was.

"At one point in this conversation," he said that this person, whose name was blacked out, "became emotional and became unable to speak; he removed his glasses and wiped his eyes."

The questioning of Abu Zubaydah has been previously described in news reports and in the Senate Intelligence Committee's Report on Torture, which was released in 2014. Just last month, in response to a lawsuit by the ACLU, the government released a full transcript of a military hearing in which Zubaydah described, in halting English and through a representative, some aspects of his time in the CIA's hands.

His 12-page statement offers a fuller, more chilling account of what he endured. It was released in response to a motion filed on behalf of ProPublica by the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School, which seeks full access to the court records in Zubaydah's case.

The government has released some documents as a result of that request but many were heavily redacted. The copy of Zubaydah's statement, for example, obscured the names of the individuals who conducted the interrogations.

The government is still withholding a substantial number of documents, including the CIA's record of Zubaydah's medical treatment, copies of drawings he made depicting his torture, 100 pages of his personal diary, poems, letters to his mother and communications with his lawyers, who have spent hundreds of hours with him over many years.

Taken together, that material would "refute the image that he is the monster the government has painted," said Joseph Margulies, one of his lawyers, a professor of law and government at Cornell.

"They reveal his humanity," said Margulies, who is barred from talking about the specifics of the still-sealed documents.

* * *

Abu Zubaydah is the nom de guerre for Zayn al Abidin Muhammad Husayn. He was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 12, 1971, but grew up in the West Bank, where he was part of the Palestinian uprising. In the late 1980s, he went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, which put him on the same side as the CIA. He sustained a serious head injury as the result of an exploding mortar shell in 1992, leaving him unable to speak for almost a year. He still suffers from the injury.

After the Soviets withdrew, Zubaydah stayed on, working at the Khalden camp, where men from the Middle East and North Africa came for training before returning to wage jihad against the Russians in Chechyna, the Serbs in Bosnia, the Israelis in Palestine. Osama Bin Laden sought to close the camp, and bring all the mujaheddin into camps under his control.

After 9/11, Zubaydah fled to a safe house Pakistan, where he was captured, in March 2002, in a joint CIA-FBI-Pakistani operation. Zubaydah, who has said he was unarmed, was shot in the groin, thigh and stomach. Bush and other senior administration officials said he was bin Laden's chief of staff, that he was one of the highest-ranking members of al-Qaeda, and that he was plotting more attacks on Americans.

Drugged, trussed and blindfolded, Zubaydah was flown to a secret site in Thailand, where he became a guinea pig for the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques." He was the first al-Qaeda suspect questioned under the Bush Administration's expanded authority.

He insisted that he wasn't a member of al-Qaeda and knew nothing about 9/11. "Nobody in Washington believes you," he writes that he was told after the fourth day of waterboarding.

In his statement, Zubaydah speaks with surprising equanimity about his questioners whose names are redacted.

"Over time, they became more civil with me and tried to greet me politely and ask how I was doing," he writes. "I think they finally realized they were wrong about me, and that they finally accepted the truth about me. In fact, (redacted) told me this later, and (redacted) did too."

Zubaydah said he even managed to joke with his interrogators about the failures of American intelligence. "What about me?" he said he asked one of his interrogators. "What about your fancy satellites and intelligence - and you thought I was al-Qaeda. He sort of smiled to acknowledge my point and nodded his head; he said, 'Well your case was a mistake.'"

In spite of all the admissions and informal apologies, Abu Zubaydah remains a prisoner at Guantanamo. In July 2008, he filed a petition for habeas corpus in federal district court in Washington, D.C., seeking his release.

For eight years, the case languished, assigned to Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts, who declined to rule on virtually every motion filed by the defense. Roberts stepped down earlier this year - amid sexual assault allegations. The case has been assigned to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.

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Previously in Zubaydah: 'Incommunicado' Forever: Gitmo Detainee's Case Stalled For 2,477 Days And Counting.

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Previously in torture:
* Doc Of Rages.

* They Said No To Torture.

* The Trews: What Should We Think About CIA Torture.

* The Tortured History Of The Senate Torture Report.

* Torture USA.

* The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama.

* Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA.

* The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You May Never See.

* Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out.

* The Prison That Just Can't Be Closed.

* Barack Obama's Secret Island Prison.

* Guantanamo Prisoner Lifts Lid.

* Read The Fucking Torture Report, People.

* American Torture Story - Chicago Chapter.

* Obama Administration Blocks Release Of New Torture Details.

* REVEALED: The Boom And Bust Of The CIA's Secret Torture Sites.

* Torture By Iraqi Militias: The Report Washington Did Not Want You To See.

* 'Stunning:' CIA Admits 'Mistakenly' Deleting Copy of Senate Torture Report.

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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 6:01 AM | Permalink

Chicago Baseball Becomes Tobacco-Free Today

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Friday afternoon, historic Wrigley Field will witness a new milestone: Chicago's first tobacco-free Major League Baseball game.

With Chicago - home to two storied teams - joining the growing list of tobacco-free baseball cities, it's time for Major League Baseball and its players to set the right example for our kids and promptly agree to prohibit smokeless tobacco use at all Major League ballparks. As more and more Major League cities become tobacco-free, the only question is when all baseball will become tobacco-free.

Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product. Chicago is sending the right message that baseball players are role models for our nation's youth and that chewing tobacco is dangerous and should not be an accepted part of sports culture.

Chicago becomes the fifth Major League city to implement a law making its baseball stadiums tobacco-free, joining San Francisco, New York, Boston and Los Angeles. A statewide law in California will take effect before the 2017 season.

Once all of these laws are implemented, one-third of Major League stadiums will be tobacco-free. Similar legislation is under consideration in Washington, D.C., Toronto and the state of Minnesota. (The White Sox will play their first tobacco-free game at U.S. Cellular Field next Thursday against the Detroit Tigers.)

In March, the Chicago City Council approved an ordinance to eliminate smokeless tobacco use in professional and amateur baseball and other sporting events - including at Wrigley and U.S. Cellular. The law officially took effect on Tuesday. We applaud Alderman Edward Burke for championing this law and for his efforts to protect the health of our children. We also applaud Sen. Richard Durbin for his leadership in advocating for tobacco-free baseball.

The Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign, a coalition of public health and medical organizations, has advocated for tobacco-free baseball. Other key facts in support of the campaign include:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that high school athletes use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes, and smokeless tobacco use among athletes increased more than 11 percent from 2001 to 2013, even as smoking rates dropped significantly. Among male high school athletes, smokeless tobacco use is particularly alarming at 17.4 percent in 2013.
  • Public health experts - including the CDC, U.S. Surgeon General, U.S. National Cancer Institute and World Health Organization - have all concluded that smokeless tobacco use is dangerous. Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 known carcinogens and causes oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer. The product also causes nicotine addiction and other serious health problems like gum disease, tooth decay and mouth lesions.
  • Smokeless tobacco manufacturers spent more than $500 million on marketing in 2013 (the most recent data available), driving home the message that teen boys cannot be real men unless they chew. The link between baseball and chewing tobacco reinforces this message.
  • Baseball stadiums are workplaces and public places. It is entirely appropriate to restrict the use of a harmful substance in such a setting. While players are on the job, they have a responsibility to set the right example for kids. These measures do not affect what players can do off the field in their personal lives, although they are encouraged to quit using tobacco for their own health.

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From ESPN Chicago in March:

[Miguel] Montero also joined others, including pitcher John Lackey and manager Joe Maddon, in expressing disappointment that the city of Chicago is telling players what they can or cannot do with a legal substance.

"We're grown men," Lackey said. "People in the stands can have a beer, but we can't do what we want? That's a little messed up."

You can have a beer, too, John. You know what people in the stands can't do? Smoke.

"I'm into personal freedoms," Maddon said. "I don't understand the point with all that. Just eradicate tobacco period if you're going to go that route. I'm not into over-legislating the human race, so for me I'll just have to listen and learn."

Let's start with the freedom to bring your own beverages into Wrigley Field . . .

"I will not advise them to run counter to whatever is going on," Maddon said. "A lot of that stuff I have a hard time with. I'm the wrong guy to talk to about that. If someone is going to make up my mind for me . . . that's where I draw the line personally.

Personally, players can do whatever they want when they're not at work. Chew away! Just like the rest of us.

A first offense will result in a fine of not less than $250, then $500 for a second violation and not less than $2,500 for each additional violation that occurs within one year of the first offense.

Given major league salaries, that's virtually no fine at all.

Maddon was adamant that his players follow the new rules but said he simply believes in the freedom to make up one's mind when it comes to a legal substance.

Vaseline is a legal substance, and you can't use that on a baseball field either.

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Also, chewing tobacco has been banned in the minor leagues since 1993 (and is also banned from the college game).

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Don't be naive, Joe: Major League Baseball has long been exploited by and complicit with the tobacco companies.

See How Major League Baseball Became Addicted To Tobacco, just for starters.

*

See The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #111 for further discussion (segment begins at 55:44).

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:42 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

"Chicago spends more on police misconduct lawsuits per officer than any other major U.S. city - more than $210 million from 2012 to 2015," Jonah Newman reports for the Chicago Reporter.

"Now, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration says the city cannot begin to analyze those lawsuits for patterns of police misconduct until after the U.S. Department of Justice completes its investigation of the Police Department, a decision a former DOJ official calls 'not only unnecessary, but unproductive.'"

That former DOJ official? Jonathan M. Smith, who oversaw the department's investigation of Ferguson, Missouri after the death of Michael Brown there.

"The former chief of the DOJ section responsible for investigating police departments said the city's choice to delay analyzing police misconduct lawsuits goes against the advice the federal agency gives to cities under investigation.

"There is no reason to wait to implement those things that can be changed now," said Jonathan M. Smith, who ran the special litigation section of the civil rights division at DOJ from 2010 to 2015.

So Rahm is like, let's wait until the DOJ is done with their investigation, and the DOJ is like, hey, don't wait for us!

"Smith said DOJ does not expect cities to wait until their investigations are complete - which can sometimes take years - before taking steps toward police reform. To the contrary, he said, the department encourages cities under investigation to correct problematic policies and practices as soon as they are brought to light."

Which is also why a caretaker police chief wasn't necessary when the time was ripe for a reformer.

*

My guess is that Rahm would rather wait for the DOJ on just about all things reform so he can pin the blame on them for changes that will alienate the Neanderthal bloc of the police force. At the same time, in front of certain audiences, he'll take credit for reforms he resists. He's still trying to thread the political needle.

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Reporting Catalyst
The invaluable education publication Catalyst is merging with the Chicago Reporter.

"For over 40 years, The Reporter has covered issues through the lens of race and inequality," Catalyst editor Lorraine Forte writes.

"Much of the dialogue around quality education intersects with discussions of race and class, especially as schools and districts become more diverse. And education is an important rung on the ladder of equal opportunity. For these reasons, the decision by our parent organization, Community Renewal Society, to merge its publications makes sense.

"Because of the merger, this issue will be the last print issue of Catalyst. We will continue to publish our reporting online at catalyst-chicago.org until the merger is final in 2017 and education becomes part of The Reporter's mission-driven reporting on race and inequality."

I don't know if there's more to the story of the merger, or what that more could be (guessing financial considerations), but I do know that, like so many others, I have immense respect for both publications. I fear something - or a lot of things - will be lost, but I hope for the best.

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Peter Nickeas vs. Ja'mal Green
See @BeachwoodReport for commentary and discussion about why Black Lives Matter and many of their allies are so angry with the Tribune and its overnight police reporter.

*

P.S.:

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The Banks Of Belize
"What's happening in the Caribbean is part of a larger saga, in which tighter banking controls are prompting the world's top financial institutions to avoid not just known terrorist groups but also cash remittance services, charities, foreign embassies, and other classes of customers, many of whom have no role in criminal activity. That conflict threatens global goals of providing financial access to the world's poor."

The Momentum Of Baseball Cards
"The study looked at about 38,000 cards issued from 1948 to 1996, measured by price data through a third-party valuation service for the 72 months to the end of 1996. As such it captures a specific period in the history of baseball cards, as a kind of bubble-like interest in collecting rose and peaked in the 1990s, punctuated by what Chicago-based author on the matter Dave Jamieson calls the 'great crash of '94.'"

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BeachBook

Rahm's Missed Opportunities To Integrate CPS.

*

White Woman Walking Around South Side Apologizing To Black America.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Save a tronc, take a tronc.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:06 AM | Permalink

The Banks Of Belize

BELIZE CITY, Belize - Burdened by chronic back pain, Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow avoids traveling abroad, his colleagues say. But in January, he flew to Washington and visited one government agency after another on a singular mission: reconnecting his country to the U.S. financial system.

A U.S.-educated lawyer, Barrow made his case before agencies with chief oversight of American banks, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the U.S. Treasury's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

His Belizean delegation described how their country had been shunned over the last year by large, reputable American banks, a trend that threatens its tiny economy.

belize1.JPGPhotos by Jose Gabezas/Reuters

As banks scrub their books of potentially risky businesses amid a tightening regulatory noose, major U.S. financial institutions have ended relationships with regional banks across the Caribbean in the last four years, Caribbean officials and bank executives say.

This so-called "de-risking" or "de-banking," in which banks pull out of certain lines of business and even parts of the world, has intensified. Enhanced scrutiny on financial fraud and new regulations to stem money laundering and terror finance are all at play.

Yet the de-risking movement has triggered a collision of interests: As banks tighten controls, small, poor countries most dependent on trade say they're being unfairly cut off from global finance, a case made by Barrow.

"The regulators all agreed that absent a solution, our economies, our societies would go belly up," he recounted in a speech in February. But in the end, his group left Washington with little more than "tea and sympathy."

Just two banks in Belize maintain "correspondent banking relationships" with U.S. banks: Atlantic Bank and Scotiabank, each of which have international affiliations. Such bilateral links allow banks to finance trade, settle credit card payments and clear the U.S. dollar-denominated transactions that underpin global commerce.

De-risking threatens the fragile economy of Belize, a country the size of New Jersey with a population of 375,000, a 40 percent poverty rate and an economy based on farming and tourism. Businesses now must set aside weeks to make routine payments to suppliers abroad that used to take moments. Desperate to pass muster with American banks, Belizean banks have dropped customers carrying potential risks, including cash remittance services used by many people working abroad.

Every day, Belizeans struggle to surmount trade barriers.

belize4.JPG

In south Belize City on a June weekday, Yvonne Williams visited a Western Union agent, tucked inside a Chinese-owned grocery, with her two granddaughters. The nursing assistant lives near Boston and is building a home in Belize for her retirement.

It is becoming harder to send money to Belize, Williams said. She tried to send $700 from the United States to Belize about three months ago for construction on her home, but the transaction was delayed, and she couldn't pay her workers. She believes the size of the transfer attracted attention.

"The last couple times I tried to send, Western Union said they couldn't send it," said Williams, 63. "They had to wait a couple days . . . and it affected my work here."

Santander Group, a Guatemalan company with a major investment in Belize, has had trouble bringing cash in and out of the country and closing financing from international banks for its sugar mill, which employs around 700, said director Edgar Hernandez.

"Ten banks have been willing to lend us money, but not us in Belize," Hernandez said. "We are exporting everything that we produce, so every time you have commercial activity and you don't necessarily have the proper network banking-wise to channel those funds, that creates transactional costs."

What's happening in the Caribbean is part of a larger saga, in which tighter banking controls are prompting the world's top financial institutions to avoid not just known terrorist groups but also cash remittance services, charities, foreign embassies, and other classes of customers, many of whom have no role in criminal activity. That conflict threatens global goals of providing financial access to the world's poor.

"The devastation that this can cause to the economies in the islands is horrific," said John Beale, the Barbados ambassador to the United States. "How does a hotel carry out their business in terms of credit cards? How do they get compensated?"

Caribbean countries are vulnerable because they depend on foreign trade to survive. Belize's currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar, and the United States is its most important trading partner.

It is too soon to trace broad economic impact to lost banking ties. In 2015, for instance, Belize received $82.4 million in remittances, compared to $78 million the previous year, according to the central bank.

Yet evidence exists de-risking is driving business to a hidden world of cash transactions that will make it harder for regulators and law enforcement to track money flows.

One Belize businessman, who declined to be named, said in order to pay a loan in Belize, he must travel to another Caribbean country to withdraw U.S. dollars and carry the cash back to Belize. "I do that every month," he said. "I can't send a wire from my bank to my loan account in Belize."

Regulators say the requirements prevent fraud. Banks must make their own decisions about their customers based on risk, they say, and the United States does not advocate broad de-risking.

Daniel Glaser, the Treasury's assistant secretary for terrorist financing, said the agency is working with Caribbean countries to better understand the challenges to correspondent banking, improve their banking supervision and clarify regulators' expectations. "We recognize how vital access to the U.S. financial system is for developing countries like those in the Caribbean region," Glaser said in a statement.

CRISIS SPARKS CRACKDOWN

The 2008 financial crisis shone a harsh light on banking misdeeds and stoked public anger at Wall Street, whose loose housing loans helped spark an economic collapse. It also provided an incentive for regulators to attack financial fraud.

Abuses were eye-opening. In 2012, HSBC agreed to pay nearly $2 billion in fines to U.S. authorities for allowing itself to be used by cartels to launder drug money flowing out of Mexico, among other lapses, and acknowledged it had failed to conduct basic due diligence.

One case in particular casts a long shadow today: a nearly $9 billion penalty levied on BNP Paribas in 2014 to resolve accusations it violated U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran.

Banks reacted by ramping up compliance departments and poring through their books for any business that might invite extra scrutiny.

"There is a sense that for a period of time now, it's been open season on the banks," said Tom Keatinge, director of the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute. "Nobody wants to be the next HSBC or BNP Paribas. You're not going to take a risk."

The Caribbean appears to be the worst-hit of all regions by the new scrutiny, a World Bank survey found last year.

Caribbean states - with their small populations and economies - offer miniscule profits for banks and are seen as hubs for offshore banking, susceptible to money laundering, tax evasion and the narcotics trade flowing from South America. Most banks simply do not see it as worth their while to do business against these risks, experts say.

belize3.JPG

"We were told by one large bank that if your bank does not have about $2 billion in assets, it is not feasible for us to do business with you," said Glenford Ysaguirre, Belize's central bank governor. Barrow declined an interview request.

Belize's entire financial system has assets of less than $3 billion, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Banks have good reason to be wary in the Caribbean, some say. Several Caribbean countries including Belize are on the State Department's 2016 list of countries that present a "primary concern" for money laundering. And the release of the Panama Papers, documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm this year with information on 214,000 offshore companies, has renewed regulatory focus on the region. More than 100 offshore companies registered in Belize were named in the documents.

"Let's be honest, everybody knows what the purpose of an offshore bank was. It's for you to hide your money somewhere else," said Arturo Vasquez, chief executive of the Port of Belize and former president of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Uncle Sam wants Belize to make a big arrest, and we have not been able to do that."

The Belize government "continues to encourage offshore financial activities that are vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing," the State Department concluded. In 2011, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, a regional body focused on money laundering and terrorist finance, noted Belize had few convictions for money laundering and no enforceable requirements for banks to verify customers' legal status.

By 2015, the task force said Belize had made significant progress in addressing the problems in its anti-money laundering regulations, citing "evidence of Belize's commitment to deal with the deficiencies."

Caribbean officials contend concerns over fraud are hypocritical. U.S. states including Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada are hotbeds for the formation of anonymous shell companies, which have legitimate purposes but also enable corporate secrecy.

U.S. officials say banking rules meant to target money laundering and terrorist finance do not mandate the wholesale abandonment of classes of customers. Risks should be managed rather than avoided, they say.

"The United States has never advocated a standard of perfection," Adam Szubin, Treasury's acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told bankers in November.

BELIZE BANK: A CASE STUDY

For Belize Bank, the country's largest commercial bank by assets, disaster arrived November 20, 2014, in the form of a two-page letter, the contents of which were described to Reuters. Bank of America was ending its 35-year relationship.

"We were so shocked that immediately we called the central bank, immediately we spoke to the prime minister," said Filippo Alario, Belize Bank's chief risk officer. "We've never seen this happen anywhere."

Ysaguirre and Barrow visited Bank of America's executives in Miami shortly afterward.

Bank of America officials cited a "complex matrix of factors" in deciding whether to maintain a relationship, and said there was nothing Belize Bank could do, Ysaguirre recounted. "They were saying that they are compelled to do what they are doing because of the pressure from their regulators," he said.

Bank of America declined to comment.

The bank originally gave Belize Bank until January 2015 before the account would be closed, but agreed to an extension until the end of April. Shortly after, Bank of America dropped two other Belizean banks.

Bank of America gave little detail for its decision, Alario said, leaving Belize Bank scrambling to figure out what it had done wrong. "We asked them, 'Is there anything that you have seen that caused you concern?' And they said no," he recounted.

The shutdowns were just one corner of a larger trend across the Caribbean.

A bank in Antigua and Barbuda lost its relationship with Bank of America around March of this year, said Ronald Sanders, the country's ambassador to the United States. He declined to name the bank because it is trying to find another banking relationship.

Citibank ended its relationship with Belize's central bank in June, although the central bank still has correspondent relationships with other U.S. banks, Ysaguirre said. Citibank declined to comment.

Five financial institutions in the Bahamas, representing some 19 percent of the country's banking system's assets, have recently lost one or more correspondent banking relationships, an IMF report in June said. Disruptions can be temporary.

Across five Caribbean countries, at least 16 banks had lost all or some of their correspondent banking relationships as of this May, the IMF said.

In February, the Moody's rating service predicted that 80 percent of Belize's banking system was likely to lose correspondent and credit card settlement services by mid-year. Businesses are feeling the impact.

Belize Electric Company Limited, a Canadian-owned company and Belize Bank customer, hasn't been able to make a large payment to vendors abroad since February, said Chief Executive Officer Lynn Young. "Quite a few of our suppliers are kinda freaking out," Young said. The company is exploring options with Scotiabank.

Brett Feinstein, managing director of Benny's, a Belizean construction supplies retailer, said he has been forced to turn away new lines of revenue. One customer wanted Benny's to import a $150,000 excavator, but he declined. "If I divert the U.S. dollars to that business, it might affect my day-to-day, bread-and-butter business," he said.

With no clarity about why Bank of America dropped it, Belize Bank began its own de-risking campaign - closing accounts for remittance services catering to people with little access to traditional banks.

Migrants use the services to send earnings home, and cash transfers help keep families out of poverty. In Jamaica, remittances as a percentage of gross domestic product were 16.9 percent in 2015, the World Bank said. The figure was 7.7 percent in the Dominican Republic and 4.8 percent in Belize.

belize2.JPG

Caribbean states are both recipients and sources of remittances - Central American immigrants working in Belize, for instance, send earnings back home.

"It is really detrimental to the bottom-of-the-pyramid crowd," said Dilip Ratha, a World Bank economist. "Remittances were one simple form of financial transaction that often brought them to the periphery of the financial system."

LOBBY PUSH

Caribbean officials and executives are redoubling their efforts in Washington to encourage regulators to be clearer with U.S. banks about their expectations, while trying to make themselves more attractive to banks.

There has been talk of Caribbean states banding together to establish a commercial bank in the United States to serve their diasporas and provide correspondent services to banks in the region.

Caribbean officials have raised the de-risking issue during forums in Washington and the Caribbean region, pressing everyone from President Barack Obama on down. U.S. officials have expressed sympathy for Belize's plight, yet little action has followed.

For affected countries and the United States, new risks exist.

Belize Bank has cleared some U.S. dollar transactions and maintained a toehold in the United States by using a bank in Turkey, and previously used a Chinese bank, Alario said. The use of intermediate accounts to access the United States, or "nesting," can make transactions less transparent.

"We don't have a U.S. correspondent bank. We nest," Alario said at a de-risking panel in Belize City in June. "It's not ideal but that's all we have to do to continue."

In February, Moody's warned that Belize could face "significant disruptions" to tourism, trade and foreign investment after losing its banking links. About 60 percent of tourist spending in Belize involves credit card transactions settled by correspondent banks.

Historically, the Caribbean has cooperated closely with the United States, interdicting drug flows and hosting U.S. naval and air stations. Yet now some transactions that used to occur in U.S. dollars are being conducted in euros and Chinese yuan.

"What I don't understand is why the United States at the government level, diplomatic level, at the political level would not see the harm that this is doing to its relationship with countries that are on its doorstep," said Ambassador Sanders, of Antigua and Barbuda.

belize6.JPG

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

* $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.

* Germany Waves 'Auf Wiedersehen' To Costly Wall Street Tax Scheme.

* How Wall Street Screws Denmark.

* 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 12:29 AM | Permalink

July 13, 2016

The Momentum Of Baseball Cards

To paraphrase Walter Matthau on poker, it seems baseball card collecting combines all the worst aspects of capitalism (and investing) that have made our country so great.

Well, maybe not all of them. After all, no baseball card company, that I know of, ever fabricated the statistics of a player in order to make his card more valuable, as Enron and others have done and will do with their books.

But a new study finds that the market for baseball cards shows some of the same kinds of anomalies, or factors, as the stock market. Baseball cards that out- or under-perform in value tend to keep on rising or falling, a phenomenon called momentum. As well, newly issued baseball card sets and those of rookies, like Initial Public Offerings, tend to underperform the broad market for a sustained initial period.

All of this may not tell us much about investing, but a good place to start, as with poker or the stock market, is with the common denominators: humans, greed and fear.

(Here I must confess a conflict of interest. Contrary to the standard disclaimer on my columns, I do own some baseball cards, though to call them an investment would be laughable. I did have a substantial collection as a kid, and yes, my mom did, I suspect, though she denies it, throw them away.)

The study, by Joseph Engelberg of the University of California-San Diego and Linh Le and Jared Williams of the University of South Florida, examines the market for baseball cards as a kind of laboratory, one which crucially lacks some of the conditions of financial markets, such as agents acting as managers on behalf of principals.

"We show that the market for baseball cards exhibits anomalies that are analogous to those that have been documented in financial markets, namely momentum, price drift in the direction of past fundamental performance and IPO underperformance," the authors write in the study, released in June.

"Momentum profits are higher among active players than retired players, and among newer sets than older sets."

The study looked at about 38,000 cards issued from 1948 to 1996, measured by price data through a third-party valuation service for the 72 months to the end of 1996. As such it captures a specific period in the history of baseball cards, as a kind of bubble-like interest in collecting rose and peaked in the 1990s, punctuated by what Chicago-based author on the matter Dave Jamieson calls the "great crash of '94."

THE HUMAN FACTOR

We should probably be cautious about drawing any conclusions about baseball cards as an investment, per se, but the findings may well have some interesting implications for how markets work generally.

Using a momentum strategy in which the authors identify outperforming cards over a three-month period and then hold those cards for another three months, they generated a striking 5.6 percent monthly return. That compared to a monthly return of less than 1 percent for similar momentum strategies in stocks.

The momentum data generally aligns with earlier theories that momentum is caused by the gradual dissemination of information through the market. In fact, given the relative unsophistication of most baseball card consumers, you would expect to see a bigger momentum effect in cards and indeed you do. It accords less well with the theory, which I believe, that attributes momentum to self-interested trend-following by fund managers afraid of underperforming and being booted.

It may be, however, that the period measured was one in which greed predominated and unsophisticated investors naively piled into cards which were going up.

As for the phenomenon of IPO underperformance, the study found a similar pattern. Rookie cards have cumulative abnormal returns of -6.6 percentage points in the year following release, while entire sets of cards rack up similar returns of -5.7 percentage points.

This makes a certain amount of sense. Rookie cards in the 1990s had bubble-like characteristics, with much emphasis on the few greats like Ken Griffey Jr. That may have led to the entire group being overpriced. Card collectors in the 1990s were also making bad assumptions about supply and demand.

Unlike most financial assets, baseball cards have a huge flaw: it is cheap and almost frictionless for issuers to make more of them. Demand in the 1990s may well simply have led to supply.

After all, for all their allure, a baseball card is only cardboard with pictures, words and numbers printed on it.

More valuable, perhaps, as a way to learn about human nature than as an investment.

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Mint Condition:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:52 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday vehemently denied that he sat on the Laquan McDonald shooting video until he was safely re-elected after the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. accused the mayor of a cover-up in his most blistering attack on the mayor to date," Fran Spielman reports for the Sun-Times.

"For months, Emanuel has emphatically denied political motives for keeping the incendiary video of a white Chicago Police officer shooting the black teenager under wraps for more than a year and releasing it, only after a judge ordered him to do so.

"But he has acknowledged that he 'added to the suspicion and distrust' of everyday Chicagoans by blindly following the city's long-standing practice of withholding shooting videos to avoid compromising ongoing criminal investigations."

Spielman constructs that last sentence presuming it's true that the city's "long-standing practice of withholding shooting videos" was indeed to "avoid compromising ongoing criminal investigations," when the record not only calls that motive into question but shows that criminal investigations on the whole would not have been compromised by the release of such videos. This is how the official line gets baked into reporters' stories. Rahm was just following eminently reasonable policy!

*

"On Tuesday, the mayor reiterated that denial but refused to engage in a back-and-forth with Jackson.

"'You yourself have seen all the e-mails and all of the documents. That's just not true,' the mayor said in a telephone interview with the Chicago Sun-Times."

Yes, we've seen the e-mails and documents - which make it hard to conclude anything other than that Rahm buried the Laquan McDonald video to protect his re-election. Check your own archives, Fran!

*

By the way, perhaps nitpicky but it drives me crazy: Rahm did not give an interview to the Chicago Sun-Times. He talked to Spielman on the phone. You can just say "Rahm said," or "Rahm said in a telephone interview," or "Rahm told me." It's okay to acknowledge that you were the person on the phone, Fran!

*

"The mayor's decision to remain above the fray left the job of defending Emanuel to his City Council allies, led by Rules Committee Chairman Michelle Harris (8th)."

How does denying Jackson's charge on the phone to Fran constitute remaining "above the fray?"

And what - or more likely (hint, hint), who - advised Fran to call Harris for a defense of Rahm?

*

"What's the logic behind suppressing the tape? I mean - eventually, everybody is gonna see it," Harris said.

If Harris, in defending Rahm, can't see the logic behind suppressing the tape, she might want to ask herself why indeed it was suppressed.

"Asked point-blank whether she believes Emanuel sat on the tape until after the election, Harris said, 'That's what everybody thinks because it all happened around the election cycle. But I don't think so.'"

Was Harris asked "point-blank" if she saw all the e-mails and documents?

*

"Harris saved her strongest defense for the mayor's decision to close a record 50 public schools.

"Everybody wants to keep kicking the mayor on closing the schools. But the population doesn't exist to keep these buildings open. How do you justify buildings suited for 1,200 children when the population is somewhere around 300? In some cases, it's even 200. How do you justify paying the utility bills? If it was the private sector, we would have closed `em all," Harris said.

This argument might make sense if A) the city wasn't building more charter schools even as it was closing neighborhood schools, and B) if closing schools actually saved the district money.

"Where do we get kids? Do you make it up to keep the schools open for this imaginary number of kids because people think none of the schools should be closed? We lost population. Where does the city get all the money to keep schools open for children that don't exist?"

Why is Harris allowed to make these claims without a rebuttal that might point out, for example, that every time someone showed that closed schools weren't underperforming, the administration said they were closing schools for underutilization, and every time someone showed a school wasn't underutilized, the administration said they were closing schools for underperformance?

Also, the fact that schools with dwindling populations reflected neighborhoods with dwindling populations doesn't mean we should just close up those schools any more than it means we should just close up those neighborhoods. The answer is to invest in those neighborhoods to fill up those schools.

*

"As for Jackson's claim that the mayor has not done enough for the African-American community, Harris said, 'In a perfect world, the black community needs a lot more than other communities. It's just the way of life for African Americans that we just have a lot of social issues. But is it fair to say the mayor should be the savior of the black community?'"

Of course not, but is it safe to say the mayor should spend more time on the black community than a George Lucas ego trip?

You know, just because Michelle Harris says it doesn't mean you just publish it.

*

"Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), chairman of the City Council's Black Caucus, agreed with Harris about the 50 school closings and said there are even more half-empty schools that 'probably need to be closed.'"

This strikes me as your story right here. I'd like to know if Rahm agrees.

*

"If Jackson wants more public participation before major decisions are made - like creating a new system of police accountability - the heat should be placed on aldermen not the mayor, Sawyer said."

Because the mayor's not the one running the show?

Roderick Sawyer, you have just edged out Michelle Harris as Today's Worst Person in Chicago.

*

"But Sawyer was at a loss to counter Jackson's claim that Emanuel suppressed the McDonald shooting video until after the election.

"I don't know whether politics was involved in that or not. I can only go by the man's word. Am I skeptical about it? Of course. We all look at it a little strangely," Sawyer said.

Okay, Michelle Harris is Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

*

"Instead of blaming Emanuel for how the video was handled, Sawyer blamed fired Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

"I understand the former police superintendent did take a look at it . . . I would have put the pressure on him to have let the mayor know what was on the tape and how devastating it was going to be," the alderman said.

"If the superintendent would have told him what was on that tape, [Emanuel] would have done better letting people know about the tape in advance [of the election] and expressing outrage over what occurred on it."

McCarthy did tell Rahm what was on the tape. Rahm knew within 24 to 48 hours of McCarthy knowing.

Roderick Sawyer, you are once again Today's Worst Person in Chicago.

*

"Sawyer noted that, since the run-off scare, Emanuel has delivered on his campaign promise to be 'more collaborative, more willing to listen, open to discussion.'

"We have a much better relationship than we did during our first four years together. But it's still early," he said.

That may be true of the Black Caucus, but it's most certainly not true of the Progressive Caucus, of which Sawyer is somehow also a member.

-

Related:

Rahm Dodging Community Input On Police Reform.

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Ja'mal Greenwashing Pt. 2

"The Reader has obtained video footage of Saturday's Taste of Chicago protest that calls into question the official police version of events that led to the arrest of Ja'Mal Green, a 20-year-old activist accused of attacking an officer."

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How Wall Street Screws Denmark
"Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and other international banks have profited for years by arranging short-term loans of stock in Danish companies, a maneuver that has helped shareholders but deprived Denmark of substantial tax revenues."

The Inventor Of M*A*S*H
Baron Larrey.

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BeachBook

Records: Eric Holder Lied About Why He Didn't Prosecute Banks.

*

After Dallas Shooting, Police Arresting People For Criticizing Cops On Social Media.

*

In Africa, The U.S. Sees Enemies Everywhere.

*

Amazon Finally Drops Deceptive List Price Comparisons.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

*

*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: By the thousands.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:55 AM | Permalink

How Wall Street Screws Denmark

Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and other international banks have profited for years by arranging short-term loans of stock in Danish companies, a maneuver that has helped shareholders but deprived Denmark of substantial tax revenues.

With the banks' help, stock owners avoid paying Danish authorities the dividend taxes they would otherwise owe on their holdings of companies like Maersk, Novo Nordisk, Danske Bank, Tryg and Carlsberg, among others.

They do so by lending the shares to banks that temporarily transfer them to other investors with low or no tax obligations around the time when the dividend is paid. The terms are hedged and arranged months in advance. After dividend time, the borrowed shares are returned, and the tax savings are shared among the investors and banks that arranged the trades.

The maneuver - known as dividend arbitrage, or "div-arb" - cost Denmark about 400 million Danish crowns ($60 million) in lost taxes last year alone, according to an estimate that we asked CEPOS, a Danish think tank, to provide for this article.

For a country of 5.7 million, the lost revenue is significant: It equals roughly 1.1 percent of the budget deficit of the Danish government last year, or about 70 Danish crowns ($10) for each resident.

The tax-avoidance trades are detailed in confidential documents that ProPublica examined in collaboration with the Danish business daily Børsen. The documents include trade logs, e-mails, chat messages and marketing materials that show how such trades happen in Denmark and various other countries.

For the first time, the documents reveal who is engaged in this kind of tax avoidance, which has already drawn scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers in Germany as they try to prevent future losses to taxpayers.

The documents make clear that the trades - which are also known as "yield enhancement" - are conducted for the purpose of avoiding dividend taxes.

One client memo describes yield enhancement as a short-term loan of shares owned by a tax-liable shareholder to another investor with a lower rate of withholding or no tax at all. The tax-exempt investor gets the dividend tax-free or is able to claim a refund from tax authorities. The difference between what would have been owed and what was actually paid is then "split between the lender and the borrower," the memo says. In another document, the trades are described simply as a method to "recapture" dividend taxes.

The papers disclose the specific Danish shares used in these trades. For instance, in April 2014, U.S. investment fund manager Vanguard lent 1,750 shares of shipping company Maersk with a market value of more than $20 million to unknown investors through Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

These share loans lasted no longer than 14 days, during which Maersk, one of Denmark's largest corporations, paid out 280 Danish crowns ($41.6) per share in dividends. Because the Vanguard funds are based outside of Denmark, they would normally lose 27 percent of the dividend to taxes, and thus receive only 73 percent of the total dividend. That comes out to 204.4 Danish crowns ($30.3) per share. Lending the shares allowed the Vanguard funds to avoid paying the dividend tax, saving 75.6 Danish crowns ($11.3) per share.

Altogether, that comes to a loss of 132,300 Danish crowns to Denmark ($19,642). Of that amount, the Vanguard funds got to keep about 77,800 in tax savings they wouldn't otherwise get and the remaining 54,500 crowns went to large banks and the unknown investors who participated in the deal. Only Danish taxpayers lost.

When Danish companies pay out dividends each spring, hundreds of these trades are arranged by various international banks representing lenders and borrowers of shares. Big baskets of various Danish stocks or individual stocks with attractive dividends are assembled by bankers and put out for bidding to various counterparties, documents show.

Vanguard declined to comment for this story, but the company has previously told ProPublica that "securities lending is a widely accepted practice that we prudently employ to augment fund returns to the benefit of our clients."

Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch declined to comment.

Besides Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, other banks that participate in Danish div-arb deals include Deutsche Bank, UBS, JPMorgan and Citigroup, according to the documents.

The banks declined to comment except for Deutsche Bank, which said its transactions follow all applicable tax laws and reporting obligations in the countries where the bank operates.

The div-arb deals in question only involve refunds of taxes which had actually been withheld. Last year, the Danish public was shaken when Danish tax authorities disclosed they had paid out billions of crowns in refunds for dividend taxes that had never been paid. Those transactions prompted the Danish government to launch fraud investigations and halt processing refunds of taxes paid on dividends.

Under heavy scrutiny, the refunds slowly started again in March. But it's unclear whether sufficient safeguards have been put in place against div-arb trades, as authorities seem unaware of transactions like the ones reviewed by ProPublica and Børsen.

The Danish Ministry of Taxation said in an e-mail that it "is not aware of such practice at this point," but that it is "currently investigating" banks' share lending activities with a subsidiary agency known as SKAT, the Danish Tax Authority.

A working group convened by the regulators recently concluded that the borrower of a share is not entitled to a tax reclaim, casting doubt on the legality of any form of div-arb trades in Denmark.

Danish courts agree. The Danish National Tax Tribunal - the highest administrative court for tax matters in Denmark - ruled in 2004 that lending of a share does not change the fact that the original owner is obliged to pay the dividend tax.

"Taxwise, we have to maintain that the lender basically remains the owner of the shares. So, if the lender's tax rate is 27 percent, then 27 percent should be withheld in taxes. That's the case law in Denmark," says Erik Banner-Voigt, partner in the Danish law firm Bruun & Hjejle and a specialist in international tax law.

In May, ProPublica revealed similar transactions in Germany together with Handelsblatt, German broadcaster ARD and the Washington Post.

ProPublica conservatively estimated div-arb cost German taxpayers about $1 billion a year. Afterwards, Germany's Commerzbank - which had been bailed out by taxpayers during the financial crisis - promised to stop facilitating div-arb trades. The decision came as the Frankfurt general prosecutor's office opened an investigation into the bank's activities.

"We are pulling out of this legal business because it is no longer socially accepted," Commerzbank board member Michael Reuther said in an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper.

In June, German lawmakers passed a law that effectively shut down div-arb in Germany, which had been the biggest market for such deals.

But it's still possible to book such deals in many other markets, including, it seems, Denmark.

The Danish State Lost A Fortune In Record Maersk Dividend

Though the individual sums may seem small, there is a lot of money involved in div-arb deals, especially for big corporations like Maersk.

On April 7, 2015, Maersk paid out 1,971 Danish crowns per share ($293) to its investors in two payments that together added up to one of the biggest dividends in Danish history. The massive payment followed the sale of the conglomerate's stake in Danske Bank.

A few days before the dividend was paid out, 1.3 million Maersk shares were on loan, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence - apparently with the sole purpose of avoiding the Danish withholding tax.

Altogether, around 6 percent of Maersk's shares were on loan when the dividend was paid out to shareholders of record. The amount was unusually high: Less than 0.5 percent of the shares were on loan in the three months before and after the dividend payment, stock lending data from S&P shows.

"The best explanation is, that it has to do with taxes," says Otto Brøns-Petersen, former director at the Danish Tax Ministry and now head of research at CEPOS, the Danish think tank.

Denmark lost 350 million Danish crowns ($52 million) in tax revenue because of the Maersk share loans, according to a CEPOS estimate for Børsen based on the S&P data.

The Maersk shares were not the only ones on loan over the dividend record date, when shareholders are identified for payment. In 2015, similar surges are visible in biotech giant Novozymes, jewelry maker Pandora, wind turbine producer Vestas, insurance provider Tryg and others, S&P stock loan data for Denmark's top 20 most-traded stocks shows.

Altogether, CEPOS estimated that Denmark lost 400 million crowns ($60 million) because of dividend arbitrage in 2015. CEPOS's Brøns-Petersen said several assumptions used to craft the estimate could make the figure higher or lower.

S&P would only provide a tally of shares on loan in any security as of the first of each month, making it impossible to identify spikes in lending for companies that pay dividends later in the month. Because of this, some of the potential losses do not show up in the analysis.

The estimate also assumes a tax rate of 15 percent on dividend payments, which is only available to foreign investors covered by tax treaties with Denmark. Investors not covered by such treaties can avoid a 27 percent tax bill by lending out their shares around dividend time.

"It is likely a low estimate," Brøns-Petersen said.

'Everyone Knows It Is About Taxes'

Investors like Vanguard say they don't seek out div-arb transactions: They simply make shares available for borrowing and let market demand drive activity. The goal is to earn extra income in the form of lending fees from shares of stock Vanguard is holding for clients in its vast array of mutual funds.

"We are not proactively and systematically identifying dividend-paying stocks and shopping them to borrowers before a dividend payment," a Vanguard spokesman previously told ProPublica in regard to German div-arb deals. "Vanguard is a passive lender; our funds lend only in response to market demand from brokers with the goal of seeking to augment returns for our shareholders."

Børsen showed examples of the trades to Torben Bagge, a prominent tax attorney at the Danish law firm Tommy V. Christiansen. Bagge said taxes appear to be a motivation for deal participants.

"The excerpts of the material I have seen suggest that what they think about is tax," he said. "It is worrying that reputable banks and firms seem to assist in organized tax speculation against the Danish treasury."

One former employee who arranged div-arb deals at a major bank in Denmark said "everyone knows it is about taxes." Competition for customers puts pressure on bankers to arrange the deals or risk losing business, he said: "If everyone else is doing it and getting a risk-free return each year, the other managers are forced to do it as well."

The employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his current position in the financial sector, said div-arb has been taking place in Denmark for at least 10 years. Over time, that means small amounts of tax revenue lost on each deal could have added up to big losses for Denmark.

But just as those small amounts matter to Danish taxpayers, banks also care about every penny of revenue they can derive from the trades.

Last year, for example, revenues from Danish div-arb deals fell at one bank. The flagging revenues prompted a senior executive to ask his traders to aggressively book trades to capture what amounted to less than half a million dollars in additional revenues, an e-mail shows.

The executive wrote to his traders: "We cannot leave any revenue on the table."

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

-

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.

* Patriotic Millionaires vs. Carried Interest.

* Germany Waves 'Auf Wiedersehen' To Costly Wall Street Tax Scheme.

-

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

The Inventor Of M*A*S*H

When I was young, one of my favorite TV shows was M*A*S*H.

Set in a U.S. mobile hospital during the Korean War, the army doctors and nurses approached their work with wacky black humor. As the helicopter ambulances brought in the wounded to the tented Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) near the battlefront, they were triaged and patched up before being sent on to larger hospitals. This is a model for treating the wounded that was largely developed by a French surgeon, during the Napoleonic wars. He was Baron Dominique Jean Larrey, born 250 years ago this month.

image-20160607-15041-ha3qqn.jpeg

Larrey, who fought in most of Napoleon's campaigns, believed in rapid treatment of the wounded, and invented the first ambulance.

These horse drawn "flying ambulances" could maneuver rapidly across the battlefield, picking up injured men and taking them to field hospitals just outside the battle zone. There the soldiers would be treated, and when stable, sent to hospitals behind the lines, often based in convents or monasteries.

image-20160705-823-tvg81f.jpgThe National Library of Medicine

Larrey worked tirelessly to provide good medical support for men in his care. He constantly battled a military administration, who often saw the wounded as unwanted mouths to feed. He fought incompetence and quartermasters who sold the supplies needed by hospitals for personal profit. And he argued with generals who would prefer resources to go to front-line operations.

Although Larrey often made himself very unpopular, he had the support of the Emperor Napoleon, who had a great regard for him, possibly in part because he realized the positive effect he had on troop morale.

image-20160429-10485-dn5elz.jpgBaron Larrey, irinaraquel/flickr, CC BY

Larrey had strong principles. He developed triage, so that the wounded were treated in order of need, regardless of rank or nationality. While this did not endear him to all generals or administrators, in the long run it saved his life.

Wounded and captured by the Prussians after the battle of Waterloo, he was about to be shot when the medic tying the blindfold recognized him. He was sent to the Prussian general, Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. Larrey had saved Blücher's son's life after a previous battle and, following dinner, was released with money and an escort.

Innovative, Skilled Surgeon

As well as a fantastic administrator and a brave man, Larrey was an innovative and skillful surgeon. He promoted rapid amputation as he saw it led to better survival than the standard delay. For conventional amputations, he used three circular cuts to form an inverted cone, which, for legs, produced a stump that fitted wooden legs well. This compared very favorably to the alternative, a straight cut with the tissue then being pulled down and sewn over the end of the bone; resulting in pain, frequent infection and gangrene.

Larrey was one of the few surgeons who could successfully undertake disarticulation (separation of two bones) at the hip or shoulder joint, and amputation at the shoulder joint is sometimes still known as Larrey's amputation. During 1812 he noted that he could reduce the pain of amputation by packing the stumps with snow.

He also operated on civilians. If anyone wants a reason to give thanks for the development of anesthetics, they should read the account by novelist Fanny Burney of her mastectomy that Larrey did without the benefit of drugs.

Complex, Vain, Virtuous

He was a complex person. He kept his hair long, because he felt physically and mentally ill if it was cut too short. He picked fights because of perceived slights, and railed against the Establishment when he did not get honors or jobs that he felt due to him. He was a committed revolutionary republican, who led 1,500 students in the storming of the Bastille, but adored Napoleon even as he assumed the title of Emperor.

He was vain, claiming that at Waterloo the Duke of Wellington had ordered the artillery not to fire in his direction. He then doffed his hat. According to the anecdote, the Duke of Cambridge asked the Duke of Wellington who he was saluting. "I salute the courage and devotion of an age that is no longer ours," he replied. This touching story is only slightly marred by the fact that the Duke of Cambridge was not at Waterloo.

However, Larrey was much loved. There are many stories of ordinary soldiers putting themselves at risk to save his life. In the panic-stricken crossing of the Berezina River, during the retreat from Moscow, they passed him over their heads across the bridge jammed with fleeing soldiers.

He was also one of relatively few people that Napoleon recognized in his will, leaving 100,000 francs to "the most virtuous man I have known."

Larrey died in 1842 in Lyon, at the ripe age of 76, rushing back to Paris from an inspection of military hospitals in Algiers to see his sick and much beloved wife, Charlotte. She sadly died three days earlier.

But Larrey's influence lives on. Next time you see an ambulance weaving through the traffic, remember the man who invented its predecessor, which galloped around the battlefields of Europe.

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Andrew George is the deputy Vice-chancellor at Brunel University London.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

July 12, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. Obama, Long Reluctant To Have 'National Conversation On Race,' Now Doing Just That.

Please don't. (As if we don't have a running national conversation on race every minute of every day).

I have a better idea. Let's send Chris Rock on tour . . .

. . . with Newt Gingrich.

*

Meanwhile, the real work continues on the ground in places like Chicago, where in the aftermath of Laquan McDonald we have more police resolve than police reform.

2. Ja'mal Greenwashing.

"A Cook County courtroom erupted with shouts of 'black lives don't matter' after a judge set bail at $350,000 for a well-known activist charged with striking one police officer and trying to disarm another during weekend protests," the Tribune reports.

"Prosecutors told the judge that Green was among 150-200 demonstrators who were protesting last week's fatal shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. As they left the Taste of Chicago Saturday evening, an officer saw Green climb a fence and ordered him to get down.

"Green threatened the officer, saying he was 'going to beat his ass' and stood face to face with him, swinging his arms, prosecutors said. Green was allowed to continue the protest, but later struck a police commander, George Deveraux, in the shoulder, prosecutors said, a moment captured by a Chicago Tribune photographer."

You know what would have been nice to include right there? The damn photo!

I found it in this DNAinfo Chicago article:

That looks pretty inconclusive to me.

The way DNA described it:

"At one point, a Tribune photographer captured Green reaching toward Devereaux. Prosecutors showed the photo to Chiampas on Monday, arguing that Green punched the officer."

Back to the Trib:

"Green also spit in a police officer's face, prosecutors said. Green was allowed to continue in the protest . . . "

Look, Green may have done all that. But I would think that punching an officer and then spitting in his face would have resulted in immediate arrest. I'm guessing instead a lot of pushing and shoving was going on and whatever happened wasn't considered assault and battery.

" . . . on Michigan Avenue near Water Tower Place, he grabbed the duty belt of a police captain about an inch away from the officer's service revolver, prosecutors said."

Fortunately, that moment was captured on video:

Oh, looks like we used the wrong clip there, we'll try to find the right one for you.

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"[Judge Peggy] Chiampas took the unusual step of barring Green from discussing his case on social media."

Is that even constitutional?

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"Video shows Green standing on a police barricade, beginning to address the crowd of demonstrators, when officer George Deveraux, the executive officer of Area Central that day, first orders him to step down," Chicagoist reports.

"He then pulls Green down by Green's left short leg."

Yeah, that doesn't look like the smart play:

Let the guy speak and when he's done, help him down. Facilitate the protest.

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One count against Green is attempting to disarm a police officer. He may have touched a cop's utility belt (or he may not have), but if so, was he really trying to get the officer's gun? C'mon. But Green has been ordered held on $350,000 bail, so mission accomplished.

Trust: It's a-buildin'!

3. Cubs Flub.

"Cubs deserving of heavy All-Star presence," David Haugh writes for the Tribune.

"Nobody should suggest otherwise."

Including the players themselves?

UPDATE: ESPN Radio's broadcasting duo agreed during the game that the Dodgers' Corey Seager should have been the NL's starting shortstop, not the Cubs' Addison Russell.

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A PLEA FOR HELP

Our photographer Helene Smith needs help. Housing is the primary, urgent issue right now. Please read, and if you can offer some assistance, send me a note.

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Freaks, Geeks, Norms And Mores
Why people use the status quo as a moral compass.

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In other words, people confuse what is with what ought to be - to deadly consequences.

Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones
And lazy journalists should stop making the comparison.

Breakfast In America: Recruitment Tips
Do's and don'ts from our resident EPL expert.

A New Kind Of Losing
Distressed Cubs caps for everyone!

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Since going 25-6 to open the season, the Cubs are 28-29.

So they've been mediocre almost twice as long as they were great.

All-Star Laments
Featuring this line from our very own Roger Wallenstein: "If Robin Ventura were the most interesting manager in baseball, he might proclaim, "We don't often lose, but when we do, we prefer to be shut out."

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
It was a doozy.

Featuring: Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Maldita Vicendad, Monoplasma, Sexy Zebras, Lng/SHT, Comisario Pantera, Mexrrissey, Helado Negro, Aterciopelados, Cloud Nothings, Luna, Estelares, Cuca, Glass Lux, The Giving Moon, The Templars, Neil Finn, ERRA, Riesgo de Contagio, Noah Chris, Lydia Loveless, Derrick Carter, DJ Silverio, Los Cafres, Dentist, The Decemberists, Panteon Rococo, Instituto Mexicano del Soni, Natalia Lafourcade, Soul Asylum, Breathe Carolina, Israel Nash, Sheila E., King, Ibiza Pareo, Odiosseo, Carnivale, Thieves, Dead to Fall, Ryno, The Plot In You, Duran Duran, Billy Idol, Sons of the Silent Age, Chic, Hollywood Vampires, Weezer, Panic! At The Disco, English Beat, Matt Nathanson, Phillip Phillips, Lonesome Cliff, Phoebe Ryan, Kongos, Adele, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Dale Watson, and Devon Allman.

Your time is well spent getting to know most of these bands.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: All-Star tippage.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:39 AM | Permalink

July 11, 2016

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs at Ruido Fest in Pilsen on Sunday night.


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2. Maldita Vecindad at Ruido Fest on Saturday night.

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3. Monoplasma at Ruido Fest on Saturday.

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4. Sexy Zebras at Ruido Fest on Saturday.

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5. Lng/SHT at Ruido Fest on Saturday.

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6. Comisario Pantera at Ruido Fest on Friday.

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7. Mexrrissey at Ruido Fest on Friday.

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Mexrissey aftershow at Joe's on Weed Street on Friday night.

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8. Helado Negro at Ruido Fest on Friday.

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9. Aterciopelados at Ruido Fest on Sunday night.

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10. Cloud Nothings at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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11. Luna at West Fest in West Town on Friday night.

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Luna at Thalia Hall for the aftershow.

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12. Estelares at Ruido Fest on Saturday.

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13. Cuca at Ruido Fest on Saturday.

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14. Glass Lux at Taste of Chicago on Saturday.

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15. The Giving Moon at Taste of Chicago on Friday.

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16. The Templars at Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.

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17. Neil Finn at Ravinia on Thursday night.

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18. Riesgo de Contagio at Ruido Fest on Friday.

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19. ERRA at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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20. Noah Chris at the Double Door on Friday night.

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21. Lydia Loveless at the Square Roots festival in Lincoln Square on Saturday night.

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22. Derrick Carter at West Fest on Sunday night.

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23. DJ Silverio at Ruido Fest on Friday.

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24. Los Cafres at Ruido Fest on Saturday.

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25. Dentist at Quenchers on Thursday night.

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26. The Decemberists at Taste of Chicago on Friday night.

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27. Panteon Rococo at Ruido Fest on Friday night.

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28. Instituto Mexicano del Soni at Ruido Fest on Friday.

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29. Natalia Lafourcade at Ruido Fest on Saturday.

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30. Soul Asylum at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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31. Breathe Carolina at the Mid on Thursday night.

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32. Israel Nash at Square Roots on Saturday night.

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33. Sheila E. at Taste of Chicago on Sunday night.

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34. King at Promontory on Friday night.

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35. Ibiza Pareo at Ruido Fest on Sunday.

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36. Odiosseo at Ruido Fest on Sunday.

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37. Carnivale at Reggies on Saturday night.

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38. Thieves at Reggies on Saturday night.

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39. Dead to Fall at Reggies on Saturday night.

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40. Ryno at Durty Nellie's in Palatine on Saturday night.

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41. The Plot In You at the Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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42. Duran Duran at Ravinia on Friday night.

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43. Billy Idol at Taste of Chicago on Saturday night.

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44. Sons of the Silent Age at Taste of Chicago on Saturday night.

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45. Chic at Ravinia on Friday night.

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46. Hollywood Vampires at RiverEdge Park in Aurora on Thursday night.

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47. Weezer in Tinley Park on Sunday night.

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48. Panic! At The Disco in Tinley Park on Sunday night.

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49. English Beat at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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50. Matt Nathanson at Ravinia on Sunday night.

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51. Phillip Phillips at Ravinia on Sunday night.

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52. Lonesome Cliff at the Elbo Room on Sunday night.

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53. Phoebe Ryan at Schubas on Saturday night.

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54. Kongos at Taste of Chicago on Thursday night.

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55. Adele at the big West Side arena on Sunday night.

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56. Peter Gabriel at the big West Side arena on Saturday night.

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57. Sting at the big West Side arena on Saturday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Dale Watson at Reggies on July 3rd.

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Devon Allman at Reggies on July 5th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:25 AM | Permalink

Breakfast In America: Recruitment Do's And Don'ts

People say last week was a pretty poor week for the Ol' U.S. of A. Typically I'm not that optimistic, but it wasn't that bad. I simply believe many problems came home to roost last week. And we'll probably dance around them all once again, posting a bunch of silly stuff on Facebook in the process.

AFCB supporters would say last week was a pretty poor week for the Ol' Cherries as well. AFCB attempted to lure winger Jordon Ibe from Liverpool, but Ibe delayed the move to "keep his options open." Worse yet, England's shit show of an international squad is without a manager. The English rags claim that amateur competitive eater and Sunderland manager "Big" Sam Allardyce and beloved AFCB manager Eddie Howe are two of the main targets.

In my first BinA, I discussed how the player transfer system worked. Managers work the same way. And when your country calls to run their shambolic program, you have to answer.

I'm not an expert on recruiting players and managers to your squad yet, but I'm sure there are a few "Do's and Don'ts" to be had from American life:

Do make your pitch on a cable news network. Spoiler alert: Don't be too picky.

Don't bother making it in a newspaper. We don't read that shit in the U.S.

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Do send plenty of e-mails as backup.

Don't copy confidential information to others in the organization. We don't want to be seen as "negligent" with sensitive information.

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Do pump up the possibility of other business opportunities while being part of your club.

Don't ask your target to attend a meeting at a hotel convention space to learn your real estate secrets.

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Do cast a wide net to make sure you find somebody to fill the spot.

Don't expect many of them to be excited or viable.

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Beachwood Sabermetrics: Based on all historical data available from the beginning of time, my favorite team is playing in America before your football starts its preseason schedule.

Sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid: This week is best described as Schrodinger's sugar. With next week's friendly and Eddie Howe's candidacy for the England job, the Cherry Nation is both completely full and devoid of the sweet stuff.

Population of the Cherry Nation: Still three. Me, my high school friend who lives in Montana, and new Bournemouth signing American Emerson Hyndman. (There is no better or worse time to get on the bandwagon!)

Percent Sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid
This Week: 100%/0%

Last Week: 30%

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Previously in Breakfast In America:
* Which EPL Team Are You?

* Know Your Terminology.

* Lowest Common Denominator™.

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Breakfast In America on Facebook.

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Breakfast proprietor Eric Emery welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:25 AM | Permalink

Freaks, Geeks, Norms And Mores: Why People Use The Status Quo As A Moral Compass

The Binewskis are no ordinary family. Arty has flippers instead of limbs; Iphy and Elly are Siamese twins; Chick has telekinetic powers. These traveling circus performers see their differences as talents, but others consider them freaks with "no values or morals." However, appearances can be misleading: The true villain of the Binewski tale is arguably Miss Lick, a physically "normal" woman with nefarious intentions.

Much like the fictional characters of Katherine Dunn's Geek Love, everyday people often mistake normality as a criterion for morality. Yet, freaks and norms alike may find themselves anywhere along the good/bad continuum. Still, people use what's typical as a benchmark for what's good, and are often averse to behavior that goes against the norm. Why?

In a series of studies, psychologist Andrei Cimpian and I investigated why people use the status quo as a moral codebook - a way to decipher right from wrong and good from bad.

Our inspiration for the project was philosopher David Hume, who pointed out that people tend to allow the status quo ("what is") to guide their moral judgements ("what ought to be").

Just because a behavior or practice exists, that doesn't mean it's good - but that's exactly how people often reason. Slavery and child labor, for example, were and still are popular in some parts of the world, but their existence doesn't make them right or OK. We wanted to understand the psychology behind the reasoning that prevalence is grounds for moral goodness.

To examine the roots of such "is-to-ought inferences," we turned to a basic element of human cognition: how we explain what we observe in our environments. From a young age, we try to understand what's going on around us, and we often do so by explaining. Explanations are at the root of many deeply held beliefs. Might people's explanations also influence their beliefs about right and wrong?

Shortcuts To Explain Our Environment

When coming up with explanations to make sense of the world around us, the need for efficiency often trumps the need for accuracy. People don't have the time and cognitive resources to strive for perfection with every explanation, decision or judgement.

Under most circumstances, they just need to quickly get the job done, cognitively speaking.

When faced with an unknown, an efficient detective takes shortcuts, relying on simple information that comes to mind readily.

More often than not, what comes to mind first tends to involve "inherent" or "intrinsic" characteristics of whatever is being explained.

image-20160627-28395-5zez2k.jpgSeparate bathrooms reflect the natural order of things?/Bart Everson, CC BY

For example, if I'm explaining why men and women have separate public bathrooms, I might first say it's because of the anatomical differences between the sexes. The tendency to explain using such inherent features often leads people to ignore other relevant information about the circumstances or the history of the phenomenon being explained.

In reality, public bathrooms in the United States became segregated by gender only in the late 19th century - not as an acknowledgment of the different anatomies of men and women, but rather as part of a series of political changes that reinforced the notion that women's place in society was different from that of men.

Testing The Link

We wanted to know if the tendency to explain things based on their inherent qualities also leads people to value what's typical.

To test whether people's preference for inherent explanations is related to their is-to-ought inferences, we first asked our participants to rate their agreement with a number of inherent explanations: For example, girls wear pink because it's a dainty, flower-like color. This served as a measure of participants' preference for inherent explanations.

In another part of the study, we asked people to read mock press releases that reported statistics about common behaviors. For example, one stated that 90 percent of Americans drink coffee. Participants were then asked whether these behaviors were "good" and "as it should be." That gave us a measure of participants' is-to-ought inferences.

These two measures were closely related: People who favored inherent explanations were also more likely to think that typical behaviors are what people should do.

We tend to see the commonplace as good and how things should be. For example, if I think public bathrooms are segregated by gender because of the inherent differences between men and women, I might also think this practice is appropriate and good (a value judgment).

This relationship was present even when we statistically adjusted for a number of other cognitive or ideological tendencies. We wondered, for example, if the link between explanation and moral judgment might be accounted for by participants' political views.

Maybe people who are more politically conservative view the status quo as good, and also lean toward inherence when explaining? This alternative was not supported by the data, however, and neither were any of the others we considered. Rather, our results revealed a unique link between explanation biases and moral judgment.

image-20160705-789-11unmss.jpgWhat goes into even young children's assumptions that 'what is' is 'what ought to be'?/Shutterstock

A Built-In Bias Affecting Our Moral Judgements

We also wanted to find out at what age the link between explanation and moral judgment develops. The earlier in life this link is present, the greater its influence may be on the development of children's ideas about right and wrong.

From prior work, we knew that the bias to explain via inherent information is present even in four-year-old children. Preschoolers are more likely to think that brides wear white at weddings, for example, because of something about the color white itself, and not because of a fashion trend people just decided to follow.

Does this bias also affect children's moral judgement?

Indeed, as we found with adults, 4- to 7-year-old children who favored inherent explanations were also more likely to see typical behaviors (such as boys wearing pants and girls wearing dresses) as being good and right.

If what we're claiming is correct, changes in how people explain what's typical should change how they think about right and wrong. When people have access to more information about how the world works, it might be easier for them to imagine the world being different. In particular, if people are given explanations they may not have considered initially, they may be less likely to assume "what is" equals "what ought to be."

Consistent with this possibility, we found that by subtly manipulating people's explanations, we could change their tendency to make is-to-ought inferences. When we put adults in what we call a more "extrinsic" (and less inherent) mindset, they were less likely to think that common behaviors are necessarily what people should do.

For instance, even children were less likely to view the status quo (brides wear white) as good and right when they were provided with an external explanation for it (a popular queen long ago wore white at her wedding, and then everyone started copying her).

image-20160627-28373-ixuymw.jpgQueen Victoria started the trend in 1840 with her at-the-time unusual white wedding dress/Wikimedia

Implications For Social Change

Our studies reveal some of the psychology behind the human tendency to make the leap from "is" to "ought." Although there are probably many factors that feed into this tendency, one of its sources seems to be a simple quirk of our cognitive systems: the early emerging bias toward inherence that's present in our everyday explanations.

This quirk may be one reason why people - even very young ones - have such harsh reactions to behaviors that go against the norm.

For matters pertaining to social and political reform, it may be useful to consider how such cognitive factors lead people to resist social change.

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Christina Tworek is a Ph.D. student in developmental psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 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

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones

Westminster is not Middle Earth, as much as it might sometimes seem like it.


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Previously in Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter!:

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

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

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

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

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

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

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

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

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

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

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

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

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

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

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

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

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

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

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:07 AM | Permalink

A New Kind Of Losing

Okay, we've all dealt with losing and the Cubs before; it's what we know.

But this is just different. This is a brand new kind of losing.

It's the lulling us to sleep with softly waving 'W' flags and then waking us up abruptly by throwing a wet smelly goat in our laps kind of losing.

It's losing that isn't supposed to be happening.

And it's been going on for awhile now.

The Cubs are really Cubbing up this whole thing.

After that 25-6 start, it seemed like the rest of the regular season would just be a tune-up for the dance in October. These Cubs seemed impervious to the Cubdom of the past.

And truth be told, if this team's 35 losses (against 53 wins) had been evenly sprinkled throughout the season, we'd feel a little bit differently than we feel right now. We'd all be pretty happy with a 7-game lead in the division.

Instead, this team is suddenly in doubt.

Maybe the inexperience and retread bullpen has caught up with these guys. Maybe the injuries are straining the depth of the roster. Maybe the clock has struck 12 for Jake Arrieta, and he's turned back into the pitcher he was as an Oriole. I hope not, but seems like it would be a real Cub-like thing to happen.

As we hit the midseason break and try to sit back and celebrate a great first half and seven All-Stars, it's just like the Cubs to make us feel really uncomfortable with the biggest divisional lead in baseball. Winning for this team, it turns out, feels almost as bad as losing.

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Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-5 for the week, losing to the Reds, Braves and Pirates. But it didn't really matter who they were playing. They were just going to lose last week.

Week in Preview: I can't ever remember wanting the All-Star break to come as badly as I wanted this one. My neck was beginning to hurt with all the head shaking I've been doing lately. I can't even see myself watching the game itself on Tuesday as I don't see how the National League can win with all those damn Cubs playing. And once they come back from the break, the Cubs have the AL-leading Texas Rangers in for three.

Musical Outfielders: And no we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. Boy, this week really shows how up for grabs the outfield is for the Cubs. Kris Bryant - you know, the starting third baseman for the National League All-Stars - played six games last week in the outfield, mostly in left but also twice in right. Ben Zobrist, the NL's starting second baseman, started two games in right. Albert Almora Jr. (side note: do we have to say Jr. when no one actually knows the dad? No one is confused over which Almora is playing) played some center, as did Jason Heyward. Catcher Willson Contreras played a few games in left. It really may be a bit too much.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: Fernando Rodney is an All-Star, which is annoying. The Arrow is missed.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: All of them. They are all super annoying right now. Get it together guys.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe might want to change his T-shirt slogan to Let's Stop Sucking.

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the Rangers game on Friday will receive a Distressed Cubs Cap, which is just perfect for distressed Cubs fan. Besides, right now every Cubs cap is distressed.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that this is not going to be easy.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:01 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Cubs Need Help

A wide swath of Chicago sports fandom has only one fundamental question at this point: Are the Cubs collapsing?

There is a good chance they are. But the team will have to double or even triple down on its poor play this month for all of it to result in missing the playoffs. In other words, this will have to be an unprecedented collapse even by Cubs standards for it to completely blow up the season.

In other, other words, a team can collapse for a good long while and still survive to slip into the postseason if it has enough of a cushion. But does anyone really believe that this team is close to being the best in the National League? Better than the Giants and their pitching staff?

And the Cub are obviously not better than the Mets, although I believe that all of New York's starting pitchers are now injured, so that's a positive.

Strangely enough, many in the local sports commentariat seemed to find real comfort in the Cubs managing to win a game on Sunday. In so doing, they managed to avoid being swept by their primary division rivals (maybe the Cardinals will stay in it - I'm guessing they won't), the Pirates.

Um, people, it was one game!

Despite the win, the Cubs lost five of their last six going into the break. They choked away two straight winnable series' against division rivals at home and added in a crushing make-up loss to the Braves in between. It has now been more than two months since the Cubs put together a sustained stretch of over .500 baseball. Yes the Dexter Fowler injury hurt, but other than that, the problem has been leading players not playing well enough.

The biggest concern by far is the fact that their two best starters are struggling, i.e., they are failing to stop losing streaks. Jake Arrieta has been mediocre for seven straight starts now and it is very, very hard to believe that the fact that his innings pitched numbers went through the roof last year (tossing almost 100 more frames in a season than he had ever pitched before) is not taking a toll.

Jon Lester has only been awful in his last two starts, but Cubs brass has to be worried about Lester. First and foremost, can you really count on a pitcher to be a big part of winning a championship when he is afraid to field bunts and make pick-off throws? It has been a year-and-a-half and I still do not understand how the Cubs didn't vet this guy more thoroughly before giving him a giant contract.

And at some point, the Pirates or someone else with at least a little speed are going to embarrass Lester with a bunt- and steal-fest like few big money Major Leaguers have been embarrassed before. The only thing that has saved Lester so far is that so many guys can't bunt anymore (and how much does that suck? Hey Triple-A hitters, here's an idea: if you want to make the Show, get better at bunting!)

Reinforcements are needed, and Theo and Jed struck out on their first major opportunity to grab them. The Cubs clearly need pitching help in the rotation and in the 'pen. Arizona had some to trade and last weekend the Red Sox swooped in and grabbed it, giving up two prospects for closer Brad Ziegler. Were the Cubs even in on Ziegler? If they weren't, why the hell not and if they were, how did they get outbid?

One final thought: hopefully everyone has calmed down regarding the rumored possibility of a Kyle Schwarber-for-Andrew Miller trade. I know Miller has awesome stuff. I also know he is a middle reliever. And you don't trade potential foundational, middle-of-the-lineup stars (do we have to go over again how many homers Schwarber had last year, especially in the playoffs?) for middle relievers. Theo and Jed also know this by the way.

If you could construct a trade where you received a big-time starting pitching prospect and Andrew Miller for Schwarber, maybe you start to consider it. Maybe.
And maybe the Cubs can hang on . . . if they get some help.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:20 AM | Permalink

July 10, 2016

All-Star Laments

196-173.

49-27.

17-12.

You won't readily recognize these numbers, but they're the scores of the last three All-Star games for the NBA, NFL, and NHL, respectively.

Actually the NHL score is from 2015. After that folly, the league decided upon a new three-on-three format. It got that bad.

These are not true All-Star games where effort comes close to matching regular season or even preseason contests. Instead they are scrimmages between talented athletes where offense rules while defense receives about as much attention as Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. In other words, playing goalkeeper in an NHL All-Star game is tantamount to being a pheasant in October.

Which brings us to what used to be called baseball's Summer or Midseason Classic, when the pride of each league was at stake beginning in 1933 at Comiskey Park. The game was the brainchild of Tribune sportswriter Arch Ward, hence the first contest was held in Chicago. Fittingly, Babe Ruth clubbed the first home run in All-Star history at the South Side ballpark.

Today's All-Star games have evolved into warm, fuzzy gatherings of man-hugging, fist-bumping union comrades, taking part in orchestrated events with undercards such as made-for-TV slam-dunk contests and home run derbies. Television ratings, especially for football's Pro Bowl - a meaningless, boring three hours - and the NHL game have slumped in recent years. The only real drama is finding a venue large enough to accommodate the massive egos of the participants.

Maybe because it enjoys a longer history, baseball's All-Star game, which will be played Tuesday in San Diego, has a number of iconic moments. Arguably the greatest was 1955 when Stan Musial's walk-off 12th-inning home run gave the National League a 6-5 win in a game where the American League held a 5-0 advantage going into the seventh inning.

The National League dominated the 1950s, winning seven of 11 contests (for some long-forgotten reason, MLB featured two All-Star games in 1959 through 1962) due primarily to the dominance of African American ballplayers who sprinkled the rosters of the NL clubs, while their AL brethren were far slower to sign black players. When you had guys like Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, Roy Campanella, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Bill White and Vada Pinson on your roster, all the manager had to say was, "Go play," and victory was almost always assured.

Former Commissioner Bud Selig had to make up for the embarrassment of 2002 when the game ended in a tie, so this Tuesday's game will determine home field advantage in October's World Series, which makes absolutely no sense.

All-star contests of yesteryear had a far more competitive edge. With an absence of interleague play, each league was determined to show the fans that their circuit was superior. Honor was at stake.

Pete Rose's dash home in the 1970 game has been viewed a half-billion times on YouTube as Charlie Hustle ran over catcher Ray Fosse, separating and fracturing Fosse's shoulder while giving the National League a 5-4, 12-inning victory. Fosse, 23 at the time, went on to play nine more seasons, but never at the level before Rose turned himself into a human missile.

(You might say justice prevailed. Fosse has broadcast Oakland A's game for the past 30 years while the unrepentant Rose, the All-Time leader in hits, has been banned from the game for almost as long.)

You think rounding third base Rose thought, "Geez, this is just an exhibition game. I'll try to go around the catcher?" Or Fosse, seeing Rose bearing down on him, concluded, "Oh, boy, I better get out of the way. Pete means business." The play would have developed the exact same way if it had been the seventh game of the World Series.

That also was true at Comiskey Park in 1950 when Ted Williams crashed into the bricks of the left field wall while hauling in a drive off the bat of Ralph Kiner in the first inning. Williams knew he was hurt - turned out he had fractured his elbow - but he remained in the game through nine innings, picking up a hit and an RBI in a contest eventually won by the National League on a home run by Red Schoendienst in the 14th.

Furthermore, following surgery, Williams returned to the Red Sox as a pinch hitter on September 7th and was back in left field by the middle of the month, getting four hits in the first game he started after the injury. Good thing he didn't tweak an oblique or pull a hammie, in which case Teddy Ballgame might have missed the rest of the season.

Tuesday's game already has taken a weird twist with a National League starting infield of all Cubs. Before their recent descent back to Earth, multitudes of Cub fans, most of whom are non-historians, figured their darlings were a shoo-in for the World Series.

Why, then, would a Cub fan vote for Addison Russell over, say, the Dodgers' Corey Seager, who's hitting close to .300 with 17 homers? And wouldn't the Nationals' second baseman Daniel Murphy, the league's leading hitter, give the NL a stronger team if he had been voted in ahead of the Cubs' Ben Zobrist?

After all, home field advantage in the freakin' World Series is at stake here! If I were a Cub fan, I'd sure want to do anything I could to ensure that the sixth and seventh games, if necessary, would be played at Clark and Addison. In the short-term Cub fans can bask in the glory of having most of their team, which has lost 15 of its last 21 games, open the All-Star game against the creme de la creme from the AL.

The second-fiddle White Sox haven't been huge participants in recent All-Star contests.

This season is no different, with only the tandem of Chris Sale and Jose Quintana representing the Sox, who enter the break at 44-42 after being shut out 2-0 Sunday by the last-place Atlanta Braves. Quintana was added to the roster on Sunday after Cleveland's Danny Salazar was scratched because of "mild elbow discomfort," which is what Ted Williams experienced back in 1950 when he crashed into that outfield wall and then kept playing for nine innings.

Sale, who was ineffective last Friday en route to an 11-8 loss to the Braves, figures to be the AL's starting pitcher because of his 14-3 record. This is not good news because 1) Sale has given up 12 earned runs in as many innings in his last two starts so possibly he's a little tired and could use the rest, and 2) the Sox are scheduled to play the Cubs four games in a couple of weeks, and there is no upside for Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and their teammates to get a preview look at the Sox ace.

By losing two of three over the weekend to Atlanta, the Sox' streak of five straight series wins came to a halt. The Sox are 5-4 in July. In three of those losses the Sox were blanked. If Robin Ventura were the most interesting manager in baseball, he might proclaim, "We don't often lose, but when we do, we prefer to be shut out."

The Sox turned the tables last Wednesday, blanking the Yankees 5-0 in the deciding game of that three-game set at The Cell. Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez was outstanding, pitching seven innings while allowing only five hits, which, by the way, is the number of hits the White Sox mustered for the entire afternoon.

The Sox offense continues to be inconsistent and undependable. If they have any hope of gaining on first-place Cleveland - the Sox are seven games behind - or overcoming a four-game deficit in the wild card race, they'll need to be far more efficient in moving runners along and scoring them. Avi Garcia is hitting a measly .232 with five homers as the team's primary DH. Former MVP Justin Morneau was signed to provide some help in that department, but he's just 2-for-17 at Charlotte as he attempts to become major league-ready.

Meanwhile, guys like Jose Abreu need to step it up. As a rookie, Abreu hit ten home runs in April. This season he has just 11 in the first 3 1/2 months. And catcher Dioner Navarro, whose average has slipped to .208, was hitless with five strikeouts in 12 at-bats against the Braves while subbing for the injured Alex Avila.

In the meantime, fans on the other side of town can watch closely Tuesday night to find out whether their ballclub will enjoy (or not) home field advantage for games that have less than an even chance of being played.

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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 Mark Schaeffer:

As a youngster, my two favorite times of the year were the All-Star Game and the World Series. They were the only times one could see the AL play the NL (other than spring training). Al Kaline or Norm Cash vs Bob Gibson, anyone?

Sadly, today I barely watch the games as interleague play has ruined the anticipation I had a child. And connecting the ASG to the World Series does not help either.

It seemed like just yesterday . . . Goose Gossage vs. Bill Madlock with the game on the line in Milwaukee . . . Ah, the good old days.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:25 PM | Permalink

July 9, 2016

The Weekend Desk Report

"The final Chicago-made Oreo cookies rolled off the line Friday, ending the iconic cookie's decadeslong run of delighting hometown consumers and providing good-paying union jobs on the Southwest Side," the Tribune reports.

"The Chicago plant will continue to make other products, like BelVita breakfast biscuits and Mini Chips Ahoy cookies."

Which nobody eats. Sad!

"Oreo cookies will continue to be made at three other plants in the U.S. - just not at the brick bakery at 7300 S. Kedzie Ave.

"The shutdown of the Oreo lines is part of Mondelez International's plan to shift some of its production to Mexico where they don't have to abide by the same labor and environmental standards as here in the United States, because Mexican lives aren't valued as highly."

I edited that sentence for clarity.

"Last summer the company said it would be laying off about half of the Chicago bakery's 1,200 workers; many of them are already gone."

Assignment Desk: Where to?

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From the Mondelez career page:

"We are committed to growing and empowering our employees. Because when our people grow, our business grows."

Especially if they grow in low-wage countries!

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"Nabisco's continued corporate policy of closing plants to take advantage of low-wage workers has been a windfall for its top executives and largest shareholders," according to the Bakers, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union.

"Over the last eight years, Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld has raked in approximately $170 million in compensation. Billions more went to the largest investors in dividends and stock buybacks."

Indeed.

"[Rosenfeld] has managed strident activist investors William Ackerman, who controls 7.5% of the Deerfield, Illinois-based stock, and Nelson Peltz, who has a 3% share and a board seat, by promising to cut $3 billion from the company," Forbes reports.

So let's be clear: Take money from workers (and their communities) to further line the pockets of the already rich.

"Rosenfeld also moved the firm's Oreo factory from suburban Chicago to a newer plant in Mexico, which workers protested.

"When asked by an employee at a recent shareholders' meeting what he should tell his child, she replied in part: 'Explain . . . that business decisions are often difficult.' For the first time, Mondelez shares broke $40."

Irene Rosenfeld, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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P.S.: "Closing plants is NOT the best way to generate savings," the union says. "In fact, analysts following Mondelez believe the best way to generate impactful savings is for the company to cut its portfolio of products, greatly reduce its suppliers and decrease its advertising budget to the industry norm. Instead, Mondelez continues to foolishly ignore this advice."

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According to Forbes, Rosenfeld as a child wanted to be president when she grew up. Instead, she became president of a "plastic cheese" company.

"She leaves her [$16 million] two-story red-brick mansion before nine each morning in her Lexus saloon to drive the five-mile, 15-minute commute to Kraft's global HQ in nearby Northfield," the Mirror reports.

"Returning home late, Rosenfeld takes to the pristine and safe streets of Kenilworth to indulge her passion for rollerblading . . .

"'Irene and her husband Richard are fantastic neighbors and have been extremely welcoming to everyone who lives on the street,' said Mary Belton, 33, whose husband is an investment broker.

"'They spend a lot of summer time on Kenilworth Beach, which their home backs on to.'"

Hey, that's a public beach, hint hint. Who's with me?

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By the way, the 1% in Kenilworth are black people. (Actually, no; that would be the .3%.)

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Kenilworth history:

"Joseph Sears purchased 223.6 acres in one of the last undeveloped areas near Chicago's lakeshore for $150,300 in 1889. Joseph Sears' specifications for the community included large lots, high standards of construction, no alleys, and sales to Caucasians only . . .

"The first African-American family to move to Kenilworth was met with resistance from some in the community, such as a cross burning and racially charged vandalism."

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Back to Mondelez, formerly known as Kraft before getting Tronced:

"[I]n 2005 - 12 years after taking over Terry's chocolate - Kraft closed the factory in York and moved production to Poland."

Oh, but it's so much sadder than that.

"If there is any lesson to be learned from the acquisition of a national institution by a foreign corporation, it may lie in a snow-covered field just outside the Polish village of Jankowice," the Daily Mail reports.

"This is where Terry's Chocolate Oranges have been made since 2005 when Kraft ended 250 years of confectionery making in York and moved production to the former communist state to cut costs.

"Unlike York, where the Terry's factory was woven into the fabric of the community, the Polish plant, 20 miles from the city of Poznan, is an anonymous, security-fenced building whose workers know nothing of the iconic nature of the fruit-flavored chocolates they produce."

They also don't even get to buy them; all the product there is exported elsewhere and not sold in Poland.

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"In 1993, Terry's, then owned by United Biscuits, was sold to Kraft, which amalgamated it with Jacobs Suchard. The writing seemed to be on the wall in 2000 when the 'Terry's of York' imprint was replaced with 'Terry's'.

"But the biggest blow came when Kraft closed the plant next to York Racecourse, axeing 300 jobs and causing immense damage to the local economy. The machinery was sent to Jankowice and workers were hired in Poland, which by then was an EU state.

"GMB regional organiser John Kirk, who led the union negotiations with Kraft over the closure, said: 'I would call it death by stealth. There was a range of nine or ten products and every year they would move one to another site, either in the UK or abroad.

"In 2004 Kraft told local management that they were looking for a new purpose-built site in or near York. But later that year they announced that the entire line was being moved to Poland.

"'For us, it was confirmation that Kraft's American owners had been misleading us for a considerable period of time. Moving to Poland was all about saving on employment costs.

"'Kraft are there to benefit their shareholders and they don't care where or how their sweets are produced so long as they get the best return on their investment.'"

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Destroying Terry's was just a warm-up, though. Here's what Rosenfeld did to Cadbury's - this is Your Weekend Must-Read.

The article summarizes an episode of the British investigative show Dispatches. I couldn't find the show, but here's the trailer.

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And now she's coming for Hershey's. God save us all.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Skyway Sculpture

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Beachwood Sports Radio: The Glorious Pending Bulls Disaster That Will Be The 2016-17 Season
Bulls steal the show. Plus: Defending Kevin Durant; There Are No Mediocre Players In The NBA; Jordin Tootoo Is Not An Eskimo; The White Sox Are Winning Series'; The Cubs Turned Into A .500 Team Months Ago And Everybody Missed It.

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Obama's Favorite Weapon
By Ammo.com.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Mordatorium, The Roots, Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment, Chance the Rapper, Elle King, and Guster.

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Magic Chicago Black Girl
The new Iron Man. Plus: Oak Park's Little Free Library War; Slow Roll Cartoonist; The Life and Times of Bigfoot.

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Fantasy Fix: Fantasy All-Stars
Are all those Cubs All-Stars deserving? Let's be honest: No.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The London-based quartet Savages made a stunning debut with Silence Yourself in 2013 and established a reputation as a formidable live band. On the 2016 follow-up Adore Life, the brooding post-punk band tackles something new: love songs. Savages joins Jim and Greg for a conversation and live performance. Plus, reviews of the new albums from Maxwell and DJ Shadow."

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Weekend BeachBook

Comcast Data Caps Are Coming To Chicago.

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Theatrical Company Files Latest Lawsuit Over Navy Pier 'Haunted Barge' Sinking.

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The Trusted Grown-Ups Who Steal Millions From Youth Sports.

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Weekend TweetWood

If Trump would just pretend to be someone else for awhile I could forget everything he's ever said and "get there."

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Retweet by local TV reporter who doesn't watch her own station, news at 11.

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They're dressed for Lollapalooza.

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Then they'll go back to this.

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The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: Dressed for monetization success.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

July 8, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #110: The Bulls' Glorious Pending Disaster

Stealing the summer headlines. Plus: Defending Kevin Durant; There Are No Mediocre Players In The NBA; Jordin Tootoo Is Not An Eskimo; The White Sox Are Winning Series'; The Cubs Turned Into A .500 Team Months Ago And Everybody Missed It.


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SHOW NOTES

* 110: Dick Ellsworth's all-time career losses as a Cub.

1:03: Bulls Steal The Show.

* Coffman: "Every minute Rondo plays in a Bulls jersey will be embarrassing."

* Rajon Rondo's Command Performance:

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* It's gonna be a disaster.

* Rajon Rondo on Robin Lopez.

* Denzel "Bobby" Valentine.

19:06: Defending Kevin Durant.

* Michael Wilbon:

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* Stephen A. Smith:

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* Kevin Durant Might Hate First Take More Than Anyone.

28:58: There Are No Mediocre Players In The NBA (Or, The First-World Problems Of Leagues That Run Socialist Economies).

* Should MLB Have A Salary Floor?

40:55: Jordin Tootoo Is Not An Eskimo.

* "Of Inuit and Ukrainian descent, he is both the first Inuk player and the first player to grow up in Nunavut to participate in an NHL game. Tootoo is widely regarded as one of the NHL's best active agitators, and is able to annoy, fight, and distract other players to help his team win."

45:02: The White Sox Are Winning Series'.

* Wallenstein: Dead And Alive: Schrodinger's Baseball Team.

51:11: The Cubs Turned Into A .500 Team Months Ago And Everyone Missed It.

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STOPPAGE: 3:48

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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 2:12 PM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Black Chicago Girl Magic

"Marvel, purveyor of superhero franchises, has given two vocal and constantly sparring online communities a new reason to wage battle this week by changing the gender, age and race of a canonical comic book character," CBC News reports.

"Whether or not the fans were flamed on purpose is up for debate - but what's certain is that Iron Man will soon be a 15-year-old black girl from Chicago."


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Changing The MCU.

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Slow Roll Cartoonist
"Over time, the greats of past generations can be forgotten without a trace. John T. McCutcheon, a Lafayette native and highly successful cartoonist, seems to be one of those whose contributions during the Great Depression are largely lost. Author Tony Garel-Frantzen hopes to bring his legacy back, documenting his small-town upbringings and his path to prestige in the big city of Chicago."

Listen here.

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McCutcheon's Dog.

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Oak Park's Little Free Library War
"This gift from my wife was supposed to be harmless fun - but now when people stop, all I feel is dread."

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The Life And Times Of A Legend

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Fantasy All-Stars

Seven Cubs made the National League All-Star team. Seven. And all four infield starters will be Cubs - the first time that has happened in the NL in more than 50 years.

Are they all deserving of this honor? Let's be honest: No. But, Cubs fans came out in force to vote.

Picking All-Stars in the fantasy baseball realm doesn't come with such ballot-box stuffing. The numbers do most of the talking, and Yahoo! rankings do the rest.

Here's a list of All-Stars based almost entirely on those rankings. I did fudge a bit in a couple of places.

C

NL: Wilson Ramos

No, Buster Posey isn't even close. Ramos has proven to have been helped immensely by having laser eye treatment in the offseason. His position-leading stats include 13 HRs (tied), 46 RBI, a .944 OPS and a .335 batting average. And his 38 runs and 84 hits are in the top three in both stat lines.

AL: Brian McCann

He would be about the fourth-best catcher stat-wise in the NL. Has 13 HRs to match Ramos, along with 35 RBI in 67 games, meaning he's missed 15 or so games. His .778 OPS isn't much to celebrate either, but imagine how bad the rest of the AL catchers are. Best you can say fantasy-wise about McCann is he's on pace to match his career-best 26 HRs from 2015.

1B

NL: Paul Goldschmidt

No, not Anthony Rizzo, but not Wil Myers either, who is ranked higher than Goldy, but also qualifies at OF (see below). Goldschmidt has produced another stuffed stat sheet - 15 HRs, 58 RBI, 11 SBs, .929 OPS. It is, of course the SBs, that help him edge out Rizzo and his 20 HRs.

AL: Edwin Encarnacion

Looks like the voters got this one right. David Ortiz may be the sentimental pick, and Mark Trumbo may be this year's biggest riser, but Encarnacion's 22 HRs, position-leading 77 RBI and .899 OPS give him the edge.

2B

NL: Matt Carpenter

Yeah, it ain't Ben Zobrist, though perhaps surprisingly, Zobrist is ranked third among NL fantasy 2Bs (well, it surprised me at least). Carpenter barely edges out hard-luck candidate Daniel Murphy, who misses out despite an NL position-leading .349 BA and 56 RBI. Carpenter's NL position-leading .991 OPS and 56 runs give him the nod.

AL: Jose Altuve

Last year he unexpectedly slugged 15 HRs, but his batting average dropped about 30 point - to .313. This year he's doing it all - 14 HRs already (yes, one shy of his career-high for a season with half the season left), 49 RBI, 22 SBs, but also a .350 BA and a .982 OPS. Starting to make a good argument for being drafted in the top three next year.

3B

NL: Kris Bryant

Position is packed with talent, but Bryant is becoming what we all expected. 25 HRs is one shy of his total from last year, and they come with 64 RBI, 68 runs and a .943 OPS.

AL: Josh Donaldson

With apologies to Manny Machado, last year's MVP is stepping up again with 22 HRs and 60 RBI. He's also on pace for 200 hits and a whopping 150 runs. Oh, yeah, the 1.009 OPS ain't bad either.

SS

NL: Trevor Story

Making his case for Rookie of the Year with 21 HRs, 55 RBI. Who used to play SS for COL? Can't remember the guy's name for some reason . . .

AL: Ian Desmond

Again, sorry Manny. You don't make it at either of your positions, as Desmond, the free agent no one wanted after a down 2015, is contributing in every stat category - 15 HRs, 54 RBI, 15 SBs, 63 runs, .897 OPS.

OF

NL: Wil Myers, Bryce Harper, Carlos Gonzalez

Myers is 1B-eligible and could have gotten that slot if I wasn't such a homer, what with his 19 HRs, 58 RBI, 13 SBs, 58 runs and .896 OPS. Harper started so strong that it doesn't matter that he's been fading - 18 HRs, 51 RBI, 48 runs, 11 SBs, .895 OPS. CarGo has done the opposite - started slow, exploded over the last month - but has almost the same stats with 18 HRs, 51 RBI , 54 runs, 2 SBs and a .924 OPS.

AL: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Mark Trumbo

Trouty's being Trouty: 18 HRs, 56 RBI, 14 SBs, 62 runs, .999 OPS. Betts leads all OFs in hits (112) and runs (72), and has 18 HRs (a popular number, I guess), 58 RBI, 13 SBs. Trumbo is having a career year with 26 HRs, 64 RBI, .904 OPS.

UTIL

NL: Nolan Arenado

As mentioned above, his position is so packed he didn't make it there even though he's been as ridiculous as last year with 23 HRs, 69 RBI, 59 runs, .933 OPS.

AL: David Ortiz

Of course we need Big Papi in this game to retire on the right note, but he's earned it with 20 HRs, 69 RBI, 1.106 OPS - all at age 40.

SP

NL: Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner, Jake Arrieta

Though it seemed impossible, Kershaw, now injured, is on pace to surpass even his own incredible career numbers having already notched 11 wins and 145 strikeouts to go with his 1.79 ERA and 0.73 WHIP. Cueto leads the NL in wins with 13, and brings 115 strikeouts, 2.47 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP to the table. MadBum seems like he should have double-digit wins as well as HRs - 9 wins, 132 strikeouts, 2.09 ERA, 1.02 WHIP. Arrieta, though seemingly running on fumes, has still managed 12 wins, 115 strikeouts, 2.33 ERA, 1.06 WHIP.

AL: Chris Sale, Danny Salazar, Michael Fulmer, Marco Estrada

Sale and who now? Sale is raising talk of Denny McClain with his first-half 14 wins, 118 strikeouts, 2.93 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Salazar is living up to his previous hype, with 10 wins, 113 strikeouts, 2.36 ERA, 1.14 WHIP. Fulmer, the rookie, started late, but already has nine wins. Estrada edges out a lot of seemingly better pitchers by having a 0.99 WHIP through 105 IP.

RP

NL: Jeurys Familia, Kenley Jansen

OK, another area where I fudged the rankings a bit. Familia is the clear MLB saves leader with 31, though a couple other closers with lower WHIPs and ERAs but much fewer saves are ranked higher. Jansen is the highest-ranked RP in Yahoo! 5x5 with 25 saves, a withering 0.64 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 35 IP.

AL: Zach Britton, Francisco Rodriguez

Two guys drafted much later than many closers, despite strong 2015 numbers. Britton has 25 saves, K-Rod 23. Both have benefitted from unexpectedly good teams giving them many opportunities.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Mordatorium at Beat Kitchen on Sunday night.


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2. The Roots at Taste of Chicago on Wednesday night.

Rolling Out: Delivering dopeness.

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3. Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment at Taste of Chicago on Wednesday night.

Terry: Wowed.

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4. Chance the Rapper at Taste of Chicago on Wednesday night.

Reiff: Especially turnt.

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5. Elle King at Taste of Chicago on Thursday night.

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6. Guster at Ravinia on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:11 AM | Permalink

Obama's Favorite Weapon

President Barack Obama has received much credit for drawing down American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, but less attention has been paid to his administration's embrace of armed drones.

His expansion of covert drone strikes goes far beyond that of former President George W. Bush, and has blurred the line between warfare and assassination.

The classified processes used by the White House for approving these remote killings in foreign countries - countries which the U.S. is not officially at war with - has people questioning not only the Obama administration's tactics, but also the collateral damage of civilian casualties left in its wake.

Armed Drones: President Obama's Weapon of Choice [INFOGRAPHIC]
Via: Ammo.com

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Previously:
* Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

* Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

* Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

* The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies.

* Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

* How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

* Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age.

* Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

* Does The U.S. Pay Families When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

* Confirmed: Obama's Drone War Is Illegal And Immoral.

* Six Months After Obama Promised To Divulge More On Drones, Here's What We Still Don't Know.

* One Month After Drones Report, Administration Still Fails To Explain Killings.

* What If A Drone Strike Hit An American Wedding?

* Jon Langford's "Drone Operator" Debuts Again.

* Confirmed: American Bombs Killing Civilians In Yemen.

* Exclusive: Obama's Afghan Drone War.

* Obama's Dishonest Drone Legacy: A Cavalcade Of Absurd Lies About Civilian Deaths.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:45 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Skyway Sculpture

Narrative art.

20160616_084117_resized.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:09 AM | Permalink

July 7, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel can't win, no matter what he does when it comes to restoring public trust shattered by his handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting video," Fran Spielman writes for the Sun-Times.

Poor Rahm Emanuel just can't win, no matter how hard he tries! He wants to restore public trust, but no one will let him! If only there weren't so many ingrates in this town.

*

"That became painfully obvious on Wednesday, as the City Council's Budget and Public Safety Committees kicked off two days of public hearings to solicit input on Emanuel's plan to abolish the Independent Police Review Authority and replace it with a new, multilayered system of police accountability."

That was Spielman's "painfully obvious" takeaway. Then a bevy of stakeholders - including the mayor's own police board president and chair of his police reform task force, Lori Lightfoot - spend about 30 paragraphs explaining why the hearings are a sham.

[Lightfoot] also led a group of civic leaders demanding meaningful public input before a new system of police accountability is put in place to restore public trust.

On Wednesday, Lightfoot argued that two days of public hearings in the middle of the workday following a long holiday weekend do not qualify as "meaningful" public input. Not by a long shot.

"If they were serious about these hearings, they would have a very specific agenda of questions they were seeking to answer at each hearing. And they would call upon people from the community and subject-matter experts from Chicago and elsewhere to help them address the question and provide specific input on the content of any ordinance. None of that has been done," Lightfoot said.

"A lot of people have said to me they believe it's a sham . . . People don't believe there's any real interest in having input from anybody outside City Hall. I hope that's not true. But everything about this process suggests that it is . . . If this is the only process and it's not significantly changed, any product that comes out of it will have zero legitimacy."

It wouldn't have taken more than a couple phone calls over the last couple of weeks to know this was going to happen. (I can give you a couple names and numbers, Fran!)

In fact, the tenor of the remarks by Lightfoot and her allies here were quite diplomatic compared to how they've really been feeling behind the scenes.

It's not that Rahm can't win no matter what he does, it's that those trying so hard to legitimately reform the system can't win no matter what they do. Rahm is just playing politics, and those close to the internal workings know it.

And yet, Spielman reports:

"Top mayoral aides were exasperated by the knee-jerk response to Emanuel's efforts at public outreach."

Top mayoral aides feigned exasperation. This has been no knee-jerk response; these folks have working their tails off for months trying to get this right. The mayor is short-circuiting those efforts.

"[Mayoral aides] viewed it as evidence that the mayor is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't."

And there, in the 35th paragraph, is the narrative decreed by anonymous aides that Spielman picks up on as the frame for her article.

*

"We've been committed to a full public process on this important issue all along, and the mayor has worked to ensure that meaningful public engagement continues to be a priority in shaping the city's police accountability system," mayoral spokesman Stephen Spector wrote in an e-mailed statement.

Telling that no one from the mayor's office was available to speak by name on the record. In fact, if police reform was really the priority you'd think it would be in the wake of Laquan McDonald's murder, Rahm himself would be the first one to the microphone to respond to and talk about the council maneuverings. Instead, the mayor was busy overturning a shovelful of dirt.

Also, what Spector conveyed just isn't true. The accountability community - even amidst their own infighting - has worked diligently and in good faith even as the mayor has thrown roadblocks in their way. The mayor's office was also warned ahead of time that Wednesday's hearings hadn't been properly considered, including the fact that no subject experts, as Lightfoot notes, were called upon to provide insight and recommendations.

"The Police Accountability Task Force themselves held a series of public hearings prior to releasing their report," Spector wrote.

Disingenuous. Those hearings were to gather information about the state of the police department, its accountability system, and its relationship to the community. Those hearings were not about the specific restructuring needed to move ahead. They were not legislative hearings.

"The City Council is holding public hearings today," Spector wrote. "And there will be additional opportunities for public engagement, reflecting the importance of public input throughout the process."

Name those opportunities. Legislation is already being proffered. If you're being genuine, you don't hold city council hearings first and then pretend to listen to the public later.

*

In December, Spector told CNN this:

"The mayor is energized by the challenges facing the city, and he is committed to driving real and lasting solutions. As part of that process, Mayor Emanuel is taking action to restore accountability and trust in the Chicago Police Department, and he will continue to actively engage residents and community leaders to ensure their voices are heard."

Residents and community leaders are telling you that their voices aren't being heard. Stephen Spector, you are Today's Worst Person in Chicago. And only because giving that award to Rahm every day would let all his acolytes and enablers off the hook.

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The Tribune's version of events:

"For the second time in less than a month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's push to change the Chicago Police Department's oversight agency has been delayed, this time in the face of pressure for more public input.

"The latest delay came Wednesday, as the City Council opened two days of hearings - proceedings that activists derided as a sham before they even began. Community groups complained the hearings at City Hall were poorly planned and inconvenient for members of the public to attend, and that the mayor wasn't taking pains to hear from neighborhood people most impacted by police misconduct."

Better, but there are a lot of behind-the-scenes machinations that nobody seems interested in reporting on. (I'm available for hire! Already well-sourced.)

"The sharp response from community activists who say they've been misled by past failed attempts to curb police misconduct underscores the difficulty Emanuel faces in trying to cast himself as an honest broker in the push for reforms. His job is doubly hard because he's also trying to bolster his standing with rank-and-file police officers who say they're being scapegoated as they do the dangerous work of trying to stop the city's rampant street violence."

So "activists" are making Rahm's job hard - and given his interest in bolstering his standing with rank-and-file police officers, he just can't win!

Maybe the standard for judging Rahm should be actual honesty, the integrity of the process, and actual outcomes, instead of the political puzzle of maintaining a false image he can use to maintain his hold on power.

*

"The mayor is trying to make the case he has been engaged, and that he's already going ahead with real changes as he continues to try to deal with the fallout from the McDonald video.

"On Tuesday, Emanuel's press office sent reporters a list of 'reforms and strategies' the mayor and the Police Department have put in place the past year. Among them are establishing a Bureau of Professional Standards within the department, setting new standards for the release of videos and new protocols for responding to mental health incidents."

Not an impressive list, given his weak choice for the bureau, the inadequacy of the new video release policy, and questionable numbers when it comes to cops receiving mental health training (the numbers touted here aren't significantly different than those cited last December, or those supplied to the accountability community for years). And let's not forget Rahm's biggest move of all: Hiring exactly the wrong kind of police chief needed to "meet the moment."

Let's face it, Rahm continues to tap dance around what he sees as a political problem, not an urgent issue of justice. He seems incapable of learning - and perhaps of even actually caring.

*

Here's another test of Rahm's sincerity:

"A federal judge sanctioned the city once again this week, making it the sixth time since 2011 that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Law Department has been punished for not turning over potential evidence in a police misconduct lawsuit," the Tribune reports.

Is that enough to put Rahm on CPD's Strategic Subject List?

Will federal court officers start rounding up city lawyers before particularly busy weeks to prevent the publicity of high-profile legal offenses?

Can we strengthen mandatory-minimums for these repeat lawbreakers?

"[The sanctions come] less than a week after another federal judge said sanctions against the city could be in order after its attorneys failed to disclose that a police officer being sued for using a Taser on a pregnant woman also was involved in a fatal shooting in 2014 and was twice found unfit for duty.

"The ruling follows a Tribune investigation into failures in the office of Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton to turn over evidence in lawsuits involving Chicago police officers. In an analysis of nearly 450 cases alleging police misconduct since Emanuel took office, a federal judge has had to order the city to turn over potential evidence in nearly one in every five cases."

Well, sure, there are always gonna be a few bad apples. Like, in nearly one of five cases.

*

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Seeking Fan Notes

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BeachBook

How 'The Rock' May Have Helped Drag Britain Into The Iraq War.

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Online Obituary Business Is Booming.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Rock solid.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:49 AM | Permalink

July 6, 2016

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. Tribune: Video Shows Lakers' Nick Young Holding Firework That Bursts.

Is "firework" really the singular of "fireworks?" I don't like it. To me, all fireworks are fireworks - even if there is just one.

But in the interests of readers everywhere, I looked it up. The answer has something to do with ham and cheese.

2. Chicago Billionaire Funds Field Museum's New 'Antarctic Dinosaurs' Exhibit.

There were dinosaurs in the Antarctic? Did they have, like, tons of fur? Cold!

It turns out the continent was "once lush," which I assume means not so cold. It also turns out there's a much more interesting twist to the story: The funder is our old hedge fund friend Kenneth C. Griffin, the richest person in Illinois (and the 157th richest person in the world).

Griffin is a longtime political supporter of conservative causes, including the careers of Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

So what's his interest here?

I don't know, but he has appeared in news items with both an adorable Zoe Kravitz dinosaur sweater and a Mongolian dinosaur skull in the possession of Nicolas Cage, so I suspect Griffin is a reptile.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.15.00 AM.png

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.15.27 AM.png

And yes, dinosaurs were reptiles, I looked it up. So save yourself an e-mail!

3. With Signing Of Jordin Tootoo, Blackhawks Bring In A Heavy Hitter.

Please note: The grace period for headline puns based on Tootoo's name has just expired.

4. Chance the Rapper Says He's Playing Taste Of Chicago Tonight.

So am I. I'll be tasting Chicago from my apartment, also starting at 5 p.m.

5. Pfizer Sets Painkiller Marketing Code With Chicago's Opioid Police.

"The city of Chicago is set to announce the code on Wednesday."

Is it 312? I'm guessing it's 312.

6. Pat Quinn Taking His Campaign For Mayoral Term Limits To Chicago City Hall.

He's also playing Taste of Chicago tonight.

*

Dude, there's an opioid code now. You don't have to do this anymore. You don't have to live in pain.

7. Hostess Bets On Twinkie As Pabst Blue Ribbon Of Junk Food.

Unless the plan is to inject the golden sponge cake with booze instead of cream filling, that's a bad bet.

8. No Mega Millions Winner; Friday Jackpot Increases To $508 million.

Now remember, Rahm, if the office pool wins the money goes to the city, not to you.

*

Meanwhile, Michael Ferro toils in the basement of Tronc Tower on his lottery monetization machine.

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BeachBook

The Chinese Company Making Chicago's New "El" Cars Has Big Problems In Singapore.

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Chicago Gets A New Cultural Czar.

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McDonald's Wins EU "MacCoffee" Trademark Dispute.

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Frustrated Chicago Property Owner Giving Away This Building For Free.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Your monetizin' eyes.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

July 5, 2016

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Milky Chance at Oakwood Beach for Mamby on the Beach on Saturday night.

Chicagoist: Mamby Photos.

Legaspi: Chance the Rapper Makes Surprise Mamby Appearance.

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2. Modest Mouse at Northerly Island on Saturday night.

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3. Brand New at Northerly Island on Saturday night.

Substream: Fun, great, intense, etc.

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4. Talib Kweli at City Winery on Saturday night.

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5. Animal Collective at Mamby on Saturday night.

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6. Dark Trilogy at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Thursday night.

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7. Tycho at Mamby on Saturday night.

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8. Marina City at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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9. Rubix Wheel at the Elbo Room on Thursday night.

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10. Tesla at the Tinley Park shed on Saturday night.

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11. Def Leppard at the Tinley Park shed on Saturday night.

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12.REO Speedwagon at the Tinley Park shed on Saturday night.

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13. Steve Miller Band at Ravinia on Saturday night.

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14. Chris Cornell at Ravinia on Sunday night.

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15. Federico Aubele at Schubas on Sunday night.

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16. Jon Dee Graham & the Fighting Cocks at FitzGerald's in Berwyn for the American Music Festival on Saturday night.

Despres: Festival 35 Years And Still Going Strong.

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17. The Kevin Gordon Band at the American Music Festival on Saturday night.

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18. Robbie Fulks at the American Music Festival on Saturday night.

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19. Recondite at the Mid for a Mamby aftershow on Saturday night.

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20. The Black Madonna at Mamby on Sunday night.

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21. Guns 'n' Roses at Soldier Field on Friday night.

Kot: Slash Saves The Night.

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22. Alice in Chains at Soldier Field on Friday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Michael Franti (with his wife Sara) at the Concord on June 28th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 AM | Permalink

Bozo's 4th Of July Spectacular

"Here's a special Independence Day treat - a Bozo's Circus salute to the 4th of July as aired on that day in 1978 on WGN Channel 9. Introduced by Frazier Thomas, with performers from The Diana School of Dance, (and featuring a patriotic Cooky and Bozo cameo appearance at the end!)."


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Previously from The Museum of Classic Chicago Television:
* Carleton The Mime.

* The Ground Round.

* Dance Fever Christmas Special.

* Into The Valley Of The Space Invaders.

* Help Save Classic Chicago TV!

* Monstrous Movie Flashback Starring Bag O'Laughs.

* Help Save Classic Chicago Television!

* Dominick's Holiday Turkey With Pop-Up Timer.

* The Safety Elves Of Northbrook.

* Smoking Stinks.

* Good News TV: When Crime Was Down And Nazis Weren't Bugging Us.

* When Gary Coleman Pitched Harris Bank.

* Sword Of Justice!

* Jobs In Chicago.

* When A Chicago TV Show Interviewed The San Diego Chicken.

* Paul Lynde vs. Halloween.

* Tom Turkey Cake.

* A Classic Chicago Television Christmas.

* Rainbows Of Flavor & Fun.

* A Good Old-Fashioned Tastee-Freez Commercial.

* When What's Happening!! Happened.

* Classic Chicago Thanksgiving TV.

* Groundhog Day: 1972 Newscast Ripped From Today's Headlines.

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

* Fuzzy Memories TV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"George Lucas' decision to take his memorabilia collection elsewhere leaves us with a question: What will become of the lakefront site where the billionaire Star Wars creator planned to build his Museum of Narrative Art?" Crain's columnist Joe Cahill wonders.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered his truculent answer the other day, telling reporters, 'We're left with a parking lot in the middle of the museum campus. If you look into the future, that's gonna be a parking lot.'"

Why? Did I miss the part where the court ordered that spot to remain a parking lot for time immemoriam? Does the city have to abide by a Lakefront Parking Lot Ordinance? Did Daniel Burnham decree that great men make no parking lot plans?

"When I asked [Emanuel's] office about possible alternative uses for the site, I got this e-mail from a spokeswoman: 'There are no proposals to build on the site and we've moved on to other matters.'"

Geez, who is (Best) Friend of the Parking Lot now?

*

"Friends of the Parks officials didn't respond to my questions about their vision for the site, but they've applauded a proposal to include it in a nature sanctuary."

Or maybe a Chicago Museum of Unanswered Questions, though the lot probably isn't big enough for that.

*

Given the site's proximity to Soldier Field, why not make it an athletic area for kids? I'm not suggesting the NFL Experience exactly, but a kids area would also be useful after a long day museuming, no?

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From the Beachwood Sports desk . . .

The Contemptibulls
Every minute Rajan Rondo plays in a Bulls jersey will be embarrassing.

Schrodinger's Baseball Team
The White Sox are both dead and alive.

Weekend At Mr. Met's
You did things you aren't proud of.

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Bozo's 4th Of July Spectacular
Baton-twirling Americana circa 1978.

Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Osprey!
Plunging talons, sharp feet.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Milky Chance, Brand New, Modest Mouse, Talib Kweli, Animal Collective, Tycho, Dark Triology, Marina City, Rubix Wheel, Tesla, REO Speedwagon, Def Leppard, Steve Miller Band, Chris Cornell, Federico Aubele, Jon Dee Graham & the Fighting Cocks, The Kevin Gordon Band, Robbie Fulks, Recondite, The Black Madonna, Guns 'N' Roses, Alice In Chains, and Michael Franti.

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BeachBook

In Search Of Abortion, Women Are Flocking To Illinois.

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The Mysterious Disappearance Of Sports by Brooks.

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The Tories are coming.

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Read The Bizarre Olympic Committee Demands That Led Oslo To Pull Out Of The Race To Host The 2020 Games.

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You Still Can't Trust Walmart's 'Made In The USA' Claims.

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Mondelez Bids For Hershey's Chocolate Monetization Machine.

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More Fappening Happenings.

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Peter Francis Geraci Rides Infotapes To The Top.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

So, involuntary emailslaughter.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: For cocoa puffs.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:16 AM | Permalink

July 4, 2016

SportsMonday: The Contemptibulls

I liked the Denzel Valentine pick and I loved the Derrick Rose trade. But Rajon Rondo?

Really?

This is what NBA desperation looks like.

Who thinks this is a good idea besides Gar Forman? If it wasn't bad enough that Rondo openly showed up coaches in both of his last two stops - Sacramento's George Karl last season and Dallas's Rick Carlisle the year before - and essentially quit the Mavericks in the middle of a playoff series at the end of the '14-'15 season, he also forced an NBA referee to out himself last season.

Does anyone believe that Rondo cursed out referee Bill Kennedy with a derogatory term that starts with an "f" and ends with a "got" without having any clue Kennedy was gay? Of course not. Rondo called him an effing f-got because he sensed Kennedy was gay and figured that was the best way to bully him. The problem: Kennedy realized in the incident's aftermath that he had to make a statement, revealing what Rondo had called him and telling the world he was gay.

It sure does suck for a bully when his victim calls him out. In this case, Rondo was suspended for a game, costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was also outed as well, a homophobe at the very least.

Rondo will do an introductory news conference at some point this week - unless he is chicken. When he is asked about this incident, what will he say? Will he say it is ancient history? It sure would be great if some brave reporter - Joe Cowley, I am looking at you - would help him understand that he doesn't get to decide that. Bulls fans and observers and advocates of human rights will decide when it is ancient history. And it sure as hell won't be so if Rondo tries to shrug it off. At the very least, a multi-million dollar donation to some sort of LGBT charity will be in order.

Hey Jerry Reinsdorf, surely this signing has to give even you pause. Surely even your golden boy John Paxson, who was nice to you at some point when he was a player and therefore earned your undying loyalty (as opposed to Tom Thibodeau, who worked his ass off every day of his career as Bulls coach, putting in far more hours than Paxson, but was expendable in the end because for Jerry, love of the former player comes first no matter what) should pay a price for this sort of malpractice.

Any way you might want to spin this as a positive for the Bulls founders quickly. Rondo led the league in assists last year. Unfortunately all of his delightful passes added up to the Kings losing 49 stinking games. And Rondo has apparently decided his passing game requires every last ounce of his energy. His defense is such a joke, a fan kind of can't believe it (Rondo led the league in steals for several years when he was younger, before he decided he couldn't be bothered to try at that end any more).

Yes the Bulls had to sign someone to get their team salary up to the floor required by the collective bargaining agreement. But it had to be Rondo? Hey Gar, please don't try to sell us that garbage. Next time you have to sign someone just to follow the rules of minimum expenditure, surely you can find someone who isn't completely contemptible.

We knew the Bulls wouldn't be championship contenders next year. But we hoped they would be a young team that would try hard, be competitive most nights and start to implement an exciting, Warriors-like fast-break offense that is supposed to be overmatched coach Fred Hoiberg's specialty. At the very, very least, we hoped they wouldn't embarrass us.

Every minute Rondo plays in a Bulls jersey will be embarrassing.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:00 PM | Permalink

Weekend At Mr. Met's

Can we all just pretend that the trip to New York was nothing but a weird dream? Can we just go along with our baseball lives as if none of that happened?

You know, like that one weekend where you went to New York with your friend and you did all that stuff that you aren't proud of. Sure, you didn't maim or kill anyone, but it did get a little dicey a few times. And your poor buddy Ken. I don't think he's ever been the same. Ah, Ken, that was just not good. But we can just forget about that, okay? Why can't we all do that?

Let's just focus on the games against the Reds. Because that makes everyone happy. Like after that weekend in New York when you really got your act together. You got a new job and you got into a healthy relationship for once.

I mean, that might have been a blessing in disguise if you think about it. Well, except for the whole Ken deal. That guy. Man. But he's kinda doing better these days. The night sweats aren't as regular and the screaming has stopped.

But I guess we can't just "forget" that it all happened. We all share that dark secret about what happened in New York.

And unfortunately, the Reds will not be in the playoffs anytime soon. The Mets just might. So this is a little scary.

Fortunately, the Cubs still have two series' against the Reds pending this season, and only one left with the Mets. Hopefully they get their crap together and get that foul taste out of everyone's mouths by winning a few against the Mets in a few weeks. But in the meantime, the Cubs keep leaning toward being a very good team when they initially were looking to be more like a historically great team. Still, very good is not too bad.

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Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-4 for the week (and a day) as they beat the hapless Red four times and looked pretty hapless themselves losing four to the Met. Some people might say that going .500 for the week is fine considering it's a long season and all of that. But there is losing and there is losing like they did in New York, and those losses feel like they should count for more than just one each in the standings.

Week in Preview: The boys in blue stay home for two more with the Reds and then get a makeup game with the Braves at home before hitting the road for three against the Pirates. No games against the Mets.

Musical Outfielders: And no aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. Kris Bryant got two games in left before he got knocked out of the game after a collision (his second of the day) with Albert Almora Jr. on Monday. I guess the words "I got it" are as hard to say as "We beat the Mets" for the Cubs these days. Willson Contreras got four starts in left and Matt Szczur got the other two. So the shuffling continues in left for the Cubs. I want to say that Willson should get a lot of looks out there moving forward but how in the world could I know? He wasn't even an option like three weeks ago.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: Former closer Carlos Marmol is a free agent. Carlos has really made his way around the league in the past few years, but much like the strike zone, he can't really find a place to land. He is not missed.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: Once again it's Chris Coghlan. Chris has been sent to the DL with a rib deal. So I guess you would think I might be happy about this. Now, I would never cheer for someone to be injured, but am I happy someone else will be on the Cubs in place of Chris Coghlan? Yes. Does that make me a bad guy? Before you answer, you should know he batted .151 for June. And let the record show that it's not really a personal issue I have with Chris, it's just that I think the Cubs could do better. So I kind of feel like every dad of a daughter.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe has a run for his money after seeing this pic today. Seems the Phillies like to play dress-up as well.

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the Cubs-Reds game on Tuesday will receive an Anthony Rizzo "Tarp Catch" Bobblehead. I think the cooler play would have been to have a doll of him lying in the seats.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that I've never liked the Mets.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:22 PM | Permalink

Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Osprey!

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 July Bird of the Month is the osprey.

july-BOM.jpg

Osprey have a good grip on things. A diet of almost exclusively live fish means manipulating slippery prey on the fly:

  • Flexible toes: When plunging talons first into the water, osprey can reverse their outertoe to strike with two toes in the front and two in the back - a tougher grip to escape.
  • Sharp feet: The barbed pads that line the soles of the bird's feet add extra gripping ability.
  • Aerodynamic approach: After a catch, osprey point fish forward to reduce wind resistance.

To see the July Bird of the Month, check out this event:

The Return of Osprey to Cook County
Thursday, July 7, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Saganashkee Slough East, Willow Springs

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.

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 fpdcc.com/birding.

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Inside A Cook County Osprey Nest.

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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!

* Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Baltimore Oriole!

* Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Great Egret!

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BOM-March-page-002.jpg

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:25 PM | Permalink

Dead And Alive

In this Jekyll-and-Hyde, manic-depression, alive-dead season, Sox fans can be excused if they're just a bit confounded this Fourth of July. If Butch Cassidy were a Sox fan, he would likely ask, "Who are those guys?"

Winners of their last nine of 13 games, accounting for four consecutive series wins, can this be the same band of South Siders who previously dropped 26 of 36 decisions? Say it ain't so, but it is.

Even Jose Quintana, who was brilliant, won on Sunday, his first victory since May 8 as he limited the burgeoning Houston Astros to one run and three hits over seven innings, retiring 15 straight batters in the middle innings. Sox hitters finally took pity on poor Jose and scored four times for him.

In seven straight losses, Quintana was supported by a total of eight runs. Fourth of July doesn't mean much in his native Columbia, but you can bet that Jose is ready to enjoy some fireworks on this American holiday.

Meanwhile, Chris Sale, who receives far better treatment from his mates, ran his major league-leading record to 14-2 in Houston on Saturday as the Sox triumphed 7-6. Sale wasn't at his best, going seven innings on a yield of four earned runs, but it was good enough as the Sox collected 13 hits.

By winning two three-game series' last week - at home against the Twins followed by a trio in Houston - our athletes now are 42-40, the best Fourth of July record since the 2012 club was 44-37. The 2010 team which wound up winning 88 games, was only 42-38 on Independence Day. Take heart, Sox fans, there might be light at the end of this tunnel.

Consider that the recent run has not included centerfielder Austin Jackson, whose defense and timely hitting highlighted the early season euphoria. Jackson was sidelined on June 9th with a meniscus tear in his left knee. There is no timetable for his return.

The team's best hitter, Melky Cabrera, played last Tuesday in the 4-0 loss to the Twins before being shelved with a mild right wrist sprain. Maybe he'll appear this afternoon in the first of three games with the Yankees at The Cell. However, the Sox won four of five with Melky observing from the bench.

Matt Davidson, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks for pitcher Addison Reed prior to the 2014 season, was summoned from Charlotte on Thursday, and his fourth-inning hit gave the Sox a nice 4-2 lead in what turned out to be a 6-5 White Sox victory. What wasn't so nice is that Davidson broke his foot rounding first base and will be lost for the foreseeable future.

Davidson is an interesting story. The Sox traded a decent closer, Reed, for him. Davidson always has demonstrated imposing power, but his inability to make contact has relegated him to the minors ever since he donned a Sox uniform. He hit .203 at Charlotte in 2015, striking out 191 times. Sure, he hit 23 homers, but the Sox have had enough of those kinds of hitters.

Figuring that Davidson was not the answer to their third base dilemma, general manager Rick Hahn traded for Todd Frazier last winter. Meanwhile, Davidson slammed five home runs in spring training, hitting .413. And he has kept improving at Charlotte this season with a slash of .268/.349/.792 with 10 homers and 86 strikeouts in 75 games.

So when Matt Purke finally pitched himself out of the big leagues last week, Hahn turned to Davidson. And now the Yucaipa, California native will again wait for an opportunity once his surgically repaired foot heals.

Did the Sox miss Cabrera last week? Apparently not. But over the long haul, this team is far better with Melky in left field rather than Avisail Garcia, another player of interest on this team. Once known as "Little Miggy" when he was with Detroit because of his physical resemblance to Miguel Cabrera, Avi hasn't come close to fulfilling the potential predicted for him by people who were supposed to know. In a nutshell, Garcia will swing at just about anything.

In his final at-bat Sunday in the top of the eighth, reliever Luke Gregerson threw three straight pitches to Garcia not even close to the strike zone. Avi swung at and missed all three. Garcia is not the only Sox hitter who possesses an expansive strike zone, but he'd probably swing at liver and onions given the opportunity. A .243 hitter who whiffs in 25 percent of his plate appearances while getting an extra base hit about five percent of the time just isn't in high demand. Especially if he is an average outfielder at best.

Once Melky Cabrera returns, Avisail will go back to the bench, appearing pretty much as a DH. But consider that the 2014 National League batting champion Justin Morneau, whom the Sox signed on June 9th as a free agent, is on the verge of taking a rehab assignment as he continues to recover from elbow surgery.

You can be assured that Robin Ventura will move quickly to see just what kind of commodity he has in the left-handed hitting Morneau, who will have ample opportunity at DH and may see action spelling Jose Abreu at first base before the end of this month. Assuming that Morneau can be more productive offensively than Garcia - not a huge stretch - Avi then becomes a fifth outfielder behind J.B. Shuck, who has snatched an opportunity to play centerfield in Jackson's absence. While playing just about every day for almost a month, the Ohio State product has raised his average to .235 from .179. He's slammed three homers in his last eight games, while his eighth-inning single last Thursday provided the winning tally to beat the Twins. He's made some outstanding catches in centerfield, ensuring that Adam Eaton can remain in right where he leads the major leagues in outfield assists with 11.

Once Morneau is activated, might it be a sensible idea to send Avisail to Charlotte where he can play each day, tightening his strike zone, and gaining confidence that he still can be a legitimate major leaguer?

That's exactly what we're seeing out of recent call-up Tim Anderson, the Sox's top draft choice in 2013, who has stepped in as the team's regular shortstop and is hitting .300 in his first 22 games. In half of those games, the kid from Tuscaloosa, Alabama has at least two hits. You can say what you wish about Ventura, but he had the courage to insert Anderson in the leadoff position, and that move has paid dividends for the Sox's timid offense.

Anderson picked up his first base on balls last Thursday in his 86th plate appearance after being summoned to The Cell. That's not what one looks for in a leadoff hitter, but Anderson is a work in progress, and he appears to be a quick study. He'll learn to take more pitches, and once he does - coupled with his speed and power - he will make a major impact with the Sox. In addition, Anderson has made 10 errors this season, all at the Triple-A level. He's handled 83 chances without a miscue since being promoted. Not since Ray Durham has a homegrown prospect looked as promising for the future of the franchise.

Of course, we must defend ourselves from any irrational exuberance, and that is no problem with this group. Frazier may be second in MLB in home runs with 23, but 16 of those have come with the bases empty. More often than not, he's killing the team from the middle of the lineup, hitting .127 with runners in scoring position. Without Cabrera between Frazier and Abreu in the lineup last week, guys like Anderson and Eaton died on base with no one to advance them. Abreu hit .317 and .341, respectively, in his first two seasons with runners in scoring position. That mark is .247 this year. Melky is somewhat more efficient at .273.

But what the heck? It's the Fourth of July. We fire up the barbecue, enjoy the summer weather, throw back a few beers with friends, and hope and pray that some misguided fool with an automatic weapon doesn't accost an airport or one of our Chicago neighborhoods. We fervently dwell on the concept that people everywhere bask in safety and happiness, and that Frazier drives a double into the gap with two outs and the bases loaded. Let's hope that both are achievable.

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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 2:18 AM | Permalink

July 2, 2016

The [Fourth of July] Weekend Desk Report

"The U.S. government [Friday] claimed it has killed between 64 and 116 'non-combatants' in 473 counter-terrorism strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya between January 2009 and the end of 2015," the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports.

"This is a fraction of the 380 to 801 civilian casualty range recorded by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism from reports by local and international journalists, NGO investigators, leaked government documents, court papers and the result of field investigations.

"While the number of civilian casualties recorded by the Bureau is six times higher than the U.S. Government's figure, the assessments of the minimum total number of people killed were strikingly similar. The White House put this figure at 2,436, whilst the Bureau has recorded 2,753."

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"The White House's announcement today is long-awaited. It comes three years after the White House first said it planned to publish casualty figures."

And just coincidentally, the release date fell on the Friday of a long holiday weekend! God bless America, our cool president and our Most Transparent democracy.

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"Since becoming president in 2009, Barack Obama has significantly extended the use of drones in the War on Terror. Operating outside declared battlefields, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, this air war has been largely fought in Pakistan and Yemen."

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"Official estimates show civilians more likely to be killed by CIA drones than by U.S. Air Force actions," the Bureau reports. "The reality is likely far worse."

This is your weekend Must-Read.

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"When it comes to questions of war and peace," Greg Jaffe writes for the Washington Post, "it often seems as if there are two Barack Obamas."

Yes, as with everything Obama. The talker and the doer. Only one of them matters.

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"Then there's the president who, over the last seven years, has sanctioned the largest targeted killing campaign in American history."

Who is the other one?

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Previously on the Beachwood:
* Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

* Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

* Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

* The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies.

* Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

* How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

* Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age.

* Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

* Does The U.S. Pay Families When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

* Confirmed: Obama's Drone War Is Illegal And Immoral.

* Six Months After Obama Promised To Divulge More On Drones, Here's What We Still Don't Know.

* One Month After Drones Report, Administration Still Fails To Explain Killings.

* What If A Drone Strike Hit An American Wedding?

* Jon Langford's "Drone Operator" Debuts Again.

* Confirmed: American Bombs Killing Civilians In Yemen.

* Exclusive: Obama's Afghan Drone War.

* Obama Legacy: A Cavalcade Of Absurd Lies About Civilian Drone Deaths.

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Beachwood Sports Radio: Phil Jackson Doesn't Have A TV
Chief Triangle now Chief Pigeon.

Plus: The Blackhawks Are Making Me Dizzy; The White Sox Are Regressing Up To Mediocre; Remembering Da Co-Coach; and The Cubs Are A Crumbling Prison.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 2
Live from a Meijer's in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Redeeming The (Rapey) Kamasutra
"The book is rapturous about kinky rough sex, and at times suggests that a woman's protests and resistance should be taken as signs of real passion."

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24 Hours With Freeform
Target demographic: Becomers.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Aaron Kelly & Mark Pittman, Boys Like Jason, Aerial Ruin, Akosuen, Mako Sica, Lissie, Warren Haynes (with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), Jackson Browne, Lowcountry, Soften The Glare, Asphyxiator, The Fray, and Seu.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "We're barely halfway through the year and already there's an overwhelming amount of great new music to enjoy. Jim and Greg share their lists of the Best Albums of 2016 . . . So Far. Plus, they discuss the 'Stairway to Heaven' plagiarism verdict and pay tribute to Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell."

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Weekend BeachBook

Gymnastics Fans Are Changing How The Sport Is Covered Through Blogging.

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National Fashions Commercial, 1976.

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Chicago And Jazz At Play, Ideally.

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Weekend Tip Line: Monetization machines in pieces on the ground.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

July 1, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #109: Phil Jackson Doesn't Have A TV

Chief Triangle now pigeon. Plus: The Blackhawks Are Making Me Dizzy; The White Sox Are Regressing To Mediocre; Remembering Da Co-Coach; and The Cubs Are A Crumbling Prison.


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SHOW NOTES

* Steve Swisher is the father of Nick Swisher. He indeed wore No. 9.

00:25: As The Bulls Turn.

* No TVs in New York!

* Noah a Knick.

* So is Rose.

* Take Hoiberg next!

* Pigeon Phil!

* Win one for the Zipser!

* Gar Emery.

* Post-Traumatic Tim Floyd Syndrome:

* Bullsology.

* "Forman confirmed that there were no changes on the Bulls' bench regarding assistant coaches. There had been some speculation that Randy Brown could be moved to a front office role."

* Same owner, same dysfunction.

* Collectivism!

27:47: As The Blackhawks Turn.

* Rosenbloom: No Whining About The Andrew Shaw Trade.

* Blackhawks Bring Back Brian Campbell.

36:06: Remembering Buddy Ryan.

* Da Co-Coach.

44:54: The White Sox Are Kind Of Winning Again, Pretty Injured And Still Stink.

53:00 Cubs Scuffling.

* Trade Addison Russell!

* Save the IBB!

* Montero done.

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STOPPAGE: 5:06

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:41 PM | Permalink

24 Hours With Freeform

Target demographic: Becomers.

8:30 a.m.: The 700 Club

9 a.m.: The 700 Club

10 a.m.: Gilmore Girls - There's the Rub

11 a.m.: Gilmore Girls - Dead Uncles and Vegetables

Noon: Reba - Go Far

12:30 p.m.: Help Wanted

1 p.m: Holes

3:30 p.m.: Mrs. Doubtfire

6:30 p.m.: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

9 p.m.: Dead of Summer - Patience

10 p.m.: The 700 Club

11 p.m.: Twitches Too

1 a.m.: Paid Programming

1:30 a.m.: Paid Programming

2 a.m.: The 700 Club

3 a.m.: Paid Programming

3:30 a.m.: Paid Programming

4 a.m.: Paid Programming

4:30 a.m.: Paid Programming

5 a.m.: Paid Programming

5:30 a.m.: Paid Programming

6 a.m.: Baby Daddy Unholy Matrimony

6:30 a.m.: Holes

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:31 AM | Permalink

Redeeming The (Rapey) Kamasutra

"The world of the Kamasutra is a fantasized world of sex that is in many ways the prototype for Hugh Hefner's glossy Playboy empire," writes University of Chicago history of religions professor Wendy Doniger in her new book, Redeeming the Kamasutra," Kyle Smith notes for the New York Post.

"Nor, in its single-girl-about-town sections, would it be unfamiliar to Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City. Its seduction advice even anticipated the player's handbook The Game - a guy is advised to have a wingman pretend to be a fortune teller and tell the target lady's mom how blessed with auspicious signs the suitor is."

Yuck.

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From the publisher:

"The Kamasutra, composed in the third century CE, is the world's most famous textbook of erotic love. There is nothing remotely like it even today, and for its time it was astonishingly sophisticated. Yet it is all but ignored as a serious work in its country of origin-sometimes taken as a matter of national shame rather than pride - and in the rest of the world it is a source of amused amazement and inspires magazine articles that offer 'mattress-quaking sex styles' such as 'the backstairs boogie' and 'the spider web.'

"In this scholarly and superbly readable book, one of the world's foremost authorities on ancient Indian texts seeks to restore the Kamasutra to its proper place in the Sanskrit canon, as a landmark of India's secular literature. She reveals fascinating aspects of the Kamasutra as a guide to the art of living for the cosmopolitan beau monde of ancient India: its emphasis on grooming and etiquette (including post-coital conversation), the study and practice of the arts (ranging from cooking and composing poetry to coloring one's teeth and mixing perfumes), and discretion and patience in conducting affairs (especially adulterous affairs). In its encyclopedic social and psychological narratives, it also displays surprisingly modern ideas about gender and role-playing, female sexuality, and homosexual desire."

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But, as the Post notes:

"There is, however, a disturbingly rapey aspect to the Kamasutra. The book is rapturous about kinky rough sex, and at times suggests that a woman's protests and resistance should be taken as signs of real passion."

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Doniger speaking in Berlin last December:

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About Wendy Doniger.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:03 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Aaron Kelly and Matt Pittman at the Uncommon Ground in Lakeview on Sunday night.


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2. Boys Like Jason at the Mutiny on Sunday night.

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3. Aerial Ruin at the Burlington on Monday night.

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4. Akosuen at the Burlington on Monday night.

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5. Mako Sica at the Burlington on Monday night.

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6. Lissie at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

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7. Warren Haynes at Ravinia on Sunday night.

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8. Jackson Browne at Wrigley Field on Thursday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Lowcountry at Livewire on Saturday night.

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Soften The Glare at the Tree in Joliet on Saturday night.

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Asphyxiator at Wire in Berwyn on Saturday night.

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The Fray at Ravinia on Saturday night.

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Seu at City Winery on June 23rd.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:08 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 2

As expressed by a Meijer's in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

20160627_220030_resized_1.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:26 AM | Permalink

Obama Legacy: A Cavalcade Of Absurd Lies About Civilian Drone Deaths

In anticipation of an impending White House announcement on civilian deaths from drone strikes, international human rights group Reprieve has released a report which finds that there is significant evidence the U.S. government is lying about the human toll of the aerial bombing campaign.

President Barack Obama is expected to announce as early as Friday that since 2009, U.S. military and CIA airstrikes have inadvertently killed only about 100 people in nations that are not officially recognized as battlefields, such as Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The numbers for active war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, on the other hand, will not be included.

But according to Reprieve's report, Opaque Transparency, every previous statement made by the Obama administration on the civilian casualties from drone strikes has been misleading at best, with some being outright false.

That includes an on-the-record comment from CIA director John Brennan in June 2011 that "there ha[d]n't been a single collateral death" in Pakistan for nearly a year, and a claim from Obama in May 2013 that strikes are only carried out when there is "near certainty that the target is present" and "near certainty that noncombatants will not be injured or killed."

As Reprieve notes, internal CIA documents leaked in 2013 show that the agency itself recorded a civilian death just two months before Brennan's comments, while the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and other independent investigators found that dozens of local elders were killed in a strike in March 2011. As of this February, only 10 drone victims killed in Pakistan last year had been identified.

The Daily Beast separately noted earlier this month that the White House's expected estimate of 100 collateral deaths is approximately one-tenth of the real number, which most independent advocacy groups put at 1,000.

That could be because, as the Intercept revealed last year, the military posthumously labels its unidentified drone victims as "Enemies Killed in Action" unless they are proven otherwise.

And the president's own claims that strikes are not carried out unless there is "near certainty" that noncombatants will not be killed were similarly contradicted by other internal CIA memos that "show[ed] that drone operators weren't always certain who they were killing despite the administration's guarantees," according to McClatchy.

Indeed, in 2015, a group of drone operators-turned-whistleblowers accused the administration of allowing the killings of "innocent civilians" while "lying publicly about the effectiveness of such a program."

The figures, which are set to come annually from now on, will not include details such as names and countries of origin. Nor is the administration expected to explain how it defines its targets. That renders Friday's announcement virtually meaningless, Reprieve said.

"[I]t has to be asked what bare numbers will mean if they omit even basic details such as the names of those killed and the areas, even the countries, they live in," the report states. "[T]he numbers without the definitions to back up how the Administration is defining its targets is useless, especially given reports the Obama Administration has shifted the goalposts on what counts as a 'civilian' to such an extent that any estimate may be far removed from reality."

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

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Previously:
* Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

* Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

* Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

* The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies.

* Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

* How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

* Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age.

* Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

* Does The U.S. Pay Families When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

* Confirmed: Obama's Drone War Is Illegal And Immoral.

* Six Months After Obama Promised To Divulge More On Drones, Here's What We Still Don't Know.

* One Month After Drones Report, Administration Still Fails To Explain Killings.

* What If A Drone Strike Hit An American Wedding?

* Jon Langford's "Drone Operator" Debuts Again.

* Confirmed: American Bombs Killing Civilians In Yemen.

* Exclusive: Obama's Afghan Drone War.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:00 AM | Permalink

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