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« November 2013 | Main | January 2014 »

December 31, 2013

A Message From Jesse Ventura

Last week, mainstream media aired segments that looked back on the top stories of 2013. Often, when people "look back" they don't connect the dots. They forget that one set of circumstances is not an isolated incident, so they can't prevent these circumstances from happening again. Or even worse, they somehow convince themselves that the issues are too big to change.

Pope Francis is one person I was surprised to see look back, realize past wrongs, and decide that when he looks ahead, he wants to see change. Though I don't share his beliefs, I am astounded to see the face of one of the biggest and most influential religious institutions talk about accepting others as equals:

Other than Pope Francis, no other pope has decided to live in a small guest house in the Vatican instead of the Pope's private chambers. They say actions speak louder than words, and these actions lead me to believe that Pope Francis is more than just talk.

It's wonderful to see someone give peace and understanding a chance. Pope Francis had the courage to speak about some of the biggest issues in Catholicism and he has inspired many people - including me - to think differently about this religion. Looking ahead, and I speak as an atheist, I hope to see great things from this man and his church.

As I look ahead and think of where we are going as a nation, I look back on our past, and I realize we are at a serious turning point in our country. When you look back at 2013, don't look back as if the year is filled with some distant, isolated events.

Be like Pope Francis:

  • Look back with a critical eye.
  • Be critical of your government, but also critical of yourself.
  • Did you complain about the problems or were you part of the solution?

Were you on the phone day in and day out, calling your representatives to say enough is enough, stay out of Syria? Or did you just gripe about our foreign policy at the dinner table?

For those who continue to think "calling my representative won't do anything" let me assure you, that attitude is crap, it's laziness, and it's marginalizing one of your most basic and powerful rights as an American.

Sometimes a phone call is the only weapon we have to hold our representatives accountable.

Congress received nearly 500 calls for every 1 urging against a military strike on Syria. And I am proud to say that this saved us from another expensive, useless war. So, when you look back on this one act of patriotism - this one act of not only questioning the government, but downright ordering them to do the right thing - you can't look back at it as an isolated incident.

Looking ahead, you must remember Syria. Keep your representatives' numbers on speed dial for the next time they recklessly try to put our sons and daughters in harm's way. Yes, I am asking you to annoy the hell out of them!

Remember when we gave them an inch with the TSA? Look where we are now with the NSA - they're stomping all over our Bill of Rights!

Another incident you should never forget is when Congress shut down our government. Two-thirds of Americans said the current Congress is the worst one in their lifetimes. Why? Because the lobbyists, the corporations, and the special interest groups own this Congress! Our elected officials have forgotten who they work for, who voted them in, and who can vote them out just as easily.

Congress only decided to put the American people first when it became obvious that their jobs were on the line! Sure, now we have a budget "compromise," but what are they really telling us? They're hoping we'll look back on this government shutdown as a distant event today and forget about it tomorrow.

I urge you to remember who supported the government shutdown. Write their names down. Memorize them. Because 2014 and 2016 are election years and they'll all be up for re-election. They'll all claim they were part of the solution, the great budget compromise of 2013. They'll all think Americans have the memories of goldfish. Don't prove them right. Be a vigilant citizen and vote. Replace these DemoCRIPs and ReBLOODlicans with independent, free-thinkers who aren't bought by SuperPACs and special interest groups and we can win our country back.

I hope I've lit a fire here, and I'm just getting started. These are just some of the topics I will look back on in January during the first week of my new show Off The Grid on Ora.tv I will not only look back on the events of 2013, but I will help you to connect the dots, follow the money, and realize how these events impact our future, looking ahead. I know I'll get a lot of heat from "them" for doing this, but I can't sit by the sidelines and neither should you.

Peace,

Gov. Jesse Ventura
#StayVigilant

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:58 PM | Permalink

The Beer Thinker: The Best Beers Of 2013 That I Can Remember

I know what you're thinking - I've gone so long that you barely remember me. Well, then let's get re-acquainted.

I've been on a year-long bender called new-to-fatherhood. Most days, it's like being drunk and hungover at the same time. It didn't leave me much time to keep up with the ever-quickening pace of new craft beer releases, but I did manage to break the seal on enough new brews to provide a strong field of contention for my favorite beers of 2013.

This is by no means a complete list. There were some great beers I had in the past year that I wasn't in a position to take notes on, or that I went back to later and found it hard to figure out what grabbed me the first time. So, I guess this is better described as my favorite beers of the year that I actually remember and had time to jot down a couple notes about - enjoy!

Lake Effect Bitchin' Blonde: Bohemian-style Saaz hops, typically used in pilsners, star in one of the most refreshing beers I had all year. Possibly my favorite summer beer of 2013.

Spiteful I Hate My Boss Coffee Stout: The closest you'll get to a latte in the form of a beer, and I mean that in the best possible way. The coffee flavor is pretty dominant, but the contrasting creaminess is what makes it different from other coffee stouts, which are often richly chocolatey at their best, and bracingly bitter at their worst.

Goose Island Gillian Farmhouse Ale: Part of the Goose barrel-aged wild ale series, which I think should get just as much attention as Goose's Bourbon County rock stars. Gillian is highly carbonated with a flavor almost reminiscent of a strawberry shortcake or some other kind of fruit spring/summer dessert. I tried it a few months ago, but have another I'm planning to crack open New Year's Eve - it's that close to champagne.

Perennial Barry Rye: A lot of people would say this is not nearly the best Perennial has to offer, but there is so much going on. It's a tart and somewhat sour stout, not especially fruity, but with a subtle blackberry finish. It was the most unique stout I had in a year of many coffee and cherry stouts.

Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout: The second-most unique stout I had all year advertises pecans. Dominant flavor for me was caramel, and I spent half the bottle trying to figure out if pecans actually do taste like caramel (I still don't know). Barrel-aged, but incredibly smooth, with a build-up in sweetness on the long finish, and absolutely no alcohol burn. The "Wheaton," by the way, is former Star Trek actor/blogger Wil Wheaton, which is either a selling point or a buying obstacle to overcome - I'm not sure which.

Revolution Gravedigger Billy Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy Scotch Ale: Aged in a Woodford Reserve barrel, it's another one of those aged beers (the best kind) where you don't really notice the alcohol level (almost 10%), but get much more of the warm woodsy burn of the bourbon. You pretty much have to get this at the Revolution brewpub, though tasting events occasionally have it.

Metropolitan Afterburner: Hands down the best beer I've had in the last 12 months. A nearly perfect example of the Marzen (think Oktoberfest) style, with honey and caramel as stand-out flavors and a fresh-baked aspect I've finally decided is a little like angel food cake. Really simple and straightforward, a great argument against seeking out the next big berry stout or massively hopped IPA, but also so far from just being a palate cleanser. It's a limited edition, though surprisingly sold in six-packs, and was still on a couple store shelves as of early December.

One final note: I still haven't mastered beer tasting, though I feel like I'm getting closer to recognizing the different flavors that were intended, or at least the ones that the brewers and the experts agree have resulted, than I was almost two years ago when I started this adventure. I still think of myself as a vastly under-educated beer drinker - but an expert beer thinker.

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Previously in The Beer Thinker:
* Tapping Lincoln Square
* Size Matters
* Lagunitas Changes Everything
* Make Beer, Not War
* Collaboration Brewing
* Summer Brew
* Mothership Goose
* The Pumpkin Is A Fruit, An Ale And A Lager
* Barreled Over
* Craft Favorites

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Dan O'Shea was thinking about craft beer way too much for someone who wasn't writing about it. Now, he's writing about it. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:35 AM | Permalink

The [New Year's 2013] Papers

We remain in holiday mode here at Beachwood HQ, where posting may be sporadic and weird until next week.

1. Fuddruckers Is Still Around?

2. Maybe .08 Is A Ridiculous Legal Standard.

3. Disney vs. Taste of Chicago.

4. Let's go to Tom Skilling on the space deck!

5. Play-Doh Chicago-Style Hot Dog.

6. Half Of All TVs In Milwaukee Tuned In To Bears Game.

7. This Chart Shows Why Sunday Talk Shows Suck.

8. Best News Bloopers 2013.

9. The Best Beers Of 2013 That He Can Remember.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ugh.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:03 AM | Permalink

Bloodshot Kicked 2013's Butt

We received an e-mail a few days ago from Bloodshot HQ reminding us of all the label's great releases this year, so we've taken that e-mail and added a little value with some additional links, tweaks, videos, etc.

"Boy, did this year just fly by! We released 11 albums in the last 12 months, and we have no plans for settling down next year. In fact, 2014 will mark the celebration of Bloodshot's 20th Anniversary, so expect some special announcements and celebration plans in the coming months. Here is a reminder of what we've released throughout 2013 for your year-end list."

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ROGER KNOX AND THE PINE VALLEY COSMONAUTS
Stranger In My Land
Released: February 12, 2013

bs179_knox_cvr.jpg"This album isn't just a fascinating cultural artifact; it's a powerfully moving musical statement that demands attention." - Exclaim.ca

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MP3: "Stranger In My Country"

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At the Old Town School in 2012:


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WAYNE HANCOCK
Ride
Released: February 26
bs202_waynecoveredited.jpg"No matter what the calendar says, it's always a Saturday night when you're listening to Wayne 'The Train' Hancock." - Engine 145

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In Texas in November:

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DEADSTRING BROTHERS
Cannery Row
Released: April 9
bs198_dsb_cvr.jpg"Their most varied, and rewarding album to date . . . offering tunes that span the spectrum between strum-driven Americana, to an ample dose of classic rock hooks, to tried and true singer-songwriter woven narratives." - No Depression

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In Salt Lake City in July:

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LUKE WINSLOW-KING
The Coming Tide
Released: April 23

bs206_lwk_cvr.jpg" . . . a boiled-down live, almost improvised, sound that seamlessly melds Delta blues, gospel and jazz themes with personal, simplified lyrics that speak to his personal and artistic evolution. It also makes for one heck of a road trip companion." - New York Times T Magazine

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At FitzGerald's in July:

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JC BROOKS & THE UPTOWN SOUND
Howl
Released: May 21

bs205_jcb_cvr.jpg"Howl is soul with its jacket off." - NPR Music

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In Philadelphia in November:

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EDDIE SPAGHETTI
The Value of Nothing
Released: June 18

bs204_eddiesp_cover_1200.jpg" . . . approaches his rootsy solo project from the perspective of a punk rocker who grew up in a country town. The Value of Nothing shows off both influences plus all the wild-man energy of Spaghetti's live shows." - CMT Edge

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On KEXP in February:

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BARRENCE WHITFIELD AND THE SAVAGES
Dig Thy Savage Soul
Released: August 13

ALBUM COVER_bs208_savages_cvr.jpg"Thrilling comeback by Boston belter with ire in his belly . . . a ferocious blast of distorted guitar riffs, skronking sax and explosive testifying. 4 out 5 stars." - MOJO Magazine (UK)

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In St. Louis in November:

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ROBBIE FULKS
Gone Away Backward
Released: August 27

bs211_rfulks_cover.jpg"Gone Away Backward is a work of great, accomplished craft about the pointlessness of crafting anything you care about, because the world is just going to ruin it on you. That is, if you don't ruin it yourself by drinking it away." - Fresh Air

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In Los Angeles earlier this month:

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HA HA TONKA
Lessons
Released: September 24

bs207_hht_cover 2.jpg"At once gritty and delicate, owing as much to Paul Simon as Big Star; shaped by the sound of gospel as much as garage rock." - WNYC

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In Kansas City in November:

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LYDIA LOVELESS
Boy Crazy
Released: November 5

artworks-000058482895-0b10tw-t200x200.jpg"Love this woman. Love her. Is 'Stevie Nicks singing lead on Born to Run' overstating it? Probably, but too bad. The cowpunk queen of Columbus, Ohio, softens up and de-emphasizes both the cow and the punk here, but she's still more likely to throw the table at you than settle for drinking you under it." - SPIN

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In Columbus, Ohio, in September:

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THE BOTTLE ROCKETS
Bottle Rockets and the Brooklyn Side Reissue
Released: November 19

botrox_comp2-1_TN_0.jpg"Craftsmanship and inspiration that defy genre, with choruses and bridges that seem eternal." - LA Weekly

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In Germany in 2005:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

December 30, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"In the grand NFL scheme, Sunday's Bears game meant nothing," our very own Jim Coffman writes.

"Yes, it was aggravating to lose to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers again. And to do so with a division title and a spot in the playoffs on the line! What fun! But this Bears team was clearly not a championship contender."

Note: Coffman will discuss the Bears on WBEZ's Afternoon Shift at 2:45 p.m. today, give or take a few minutes.

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Ditka Falls Asleep While On TV
Dreaming Ditka 41, Packers 0.

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Party At The NSA

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Okay, from now on, let's see some reporting on what information the NSA isn't capturing. Is my toilet safe? My take-out orders? My choice in Pez dispensers?

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Federal Judge Just Makes Shit Up
Debunked Bush-era argument revived in NSA decision.

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I Worked On The U.S. Drone Program . . .
. . . And The Public Should Really Know What's Going On.

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Lou Lang's Loophole
"Illinois lawmakers promised years ago to finally get rid of video poker machines that had long gone unregulated and untaxed in dark corners of bars across the state," the Tribune reports.

"In turn, they legalized video gambling machines that were taxed and tightly controlled.

"But this year, lawmakers quietly approved a one-sentence change to the law - a move that may help usher in a new wave of slotlike machines called 'coupon kiosks,' even in Chicago and certain suburbs where officials have said 'no' to legalized video gambling."

Can anyone write better single sentences than Illinois lawmakers?

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"A change in law pushed this year by state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, is being used to strengthen the legal case for the coupon kiosk machines. Yet Lang never saw the machines he was helping, he told the Tribune, nor had he heard of the controversy they've caused in other states.

"I was just convinced at the time that this was something that looked like a gaming device but wasn't gaming," Lang said. "It was a sweepstakes."

Lou Lang, you are Today's Worst Person In Illinois.

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"Lang said the move came in part at the urging of a lobbyist hired by the Casino Law Group, which is now tied to the new coupon kiosks.

"During a House hearing in March, Lang let firm attorney Cory Aronovitz explain the legislation to lawmakers. Aronovitz called it a 'technical cleanup.'"

Cory Aronovitz, you are Today's Worst Liar In Illinois.

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"CLG Casino Law Group represents riverboat casinos, operators of video gaming devices, licensed beverage establishments with video gaming devices, manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of video gaming devices, Indian casinos, Internet casinos and casino service industries.

"CLG also appears before regulatory agencies related to licensing and game approvals, litigation on behalf of the casino industry and providing creative solutions to client needs."

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"Aronovitz, who was licensed in 1993, was suspended for three months," the Illinois State Bar Association noted in September.

"He failed to properly segregate funds given to him by a third party for investment purposes, converted $5,000 of those investment funds to his own purposes, and made misrepresentations about the investment in a letter to the investor. The suspension is effective on October 16, 2013."

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Back to the Tribune:

"A Gaming Board representative didn't oppose the legislation but told lawmakers, 'We don't fully understand it.'"

Oh, Gaming Board.

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"The legislation sailed through the General Assembly and was signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last summer."

Was it attached to a parking meter bill?

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"The Casino Law Group has contributed $3,500 to Lang's campaign fund, most of it this year. The firm also contributed $5,000 this year to House Speaker Michael Madigan's campaign fund.

"The law firm has written at least three papers that detail why it contends the 'electronic product promotion' kiosks are legal, including one for Windy City Promotions.

"They all cite Lang's law change to help make the case."

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Th!nkArt: Agony & Ecstasy
Art meets politics.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring:

Zed's Dead, Poi Dog Pondering, Christopher Elam, Jeff Brown and the New Black, the New Originals, Abscissors, Tonic Freight Train, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Blitz and trap.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:54 AM | Permalink

Th!nkArt: Agony & Ecstasy

"Th!nkArt is [a Chicago-based] art and policy salon that has featured established and emerging artists from Europe, the United States and South America.

"Launched in 2006 by Laurie R. Glenn, our aim is to forge a dialogue between the worlds of art and politics. Th!nkArt was built on the legacy of cafe society, famous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for gathering artists and intellectuals of the day.

"Th!nkArt fosters a salon setting for thought-provoking exhibitions that integrate a variety of artistic interpretations including literary readings, music, dance, theatrical performances, film, and cultural programming."


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See also:
* The Arts Channel's YouTube Page.
* Th!nkArt Salon.
* Laurie R. Glenn.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:36 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Bears Are Who We Thought They Were

Tune in to WBEZ's Afternoon Shift today around 2:45 to hear Jim Coffman talk Bears.

In the grand NFL scheme, Sunday's Bears game meant nothing. Yes, it was aggravating to lose to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers again. And to do so with a division title and a spot in the playoffs on the line! What fun! But this Bears team was clearly not a championship contender.

Sunday's game didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. Jay Cutler is good, not great. His inability to get himself and his offense started these last two games (several discouraging three-and-outs in the first halves of both) mirrored what had happened on numerous occasions earlier in the season. Then again, he has been better late in games and he does have significant value as an NFL quarterback.

The question of Cutler's future is not binary, i.e., it is not a question of whether the Bears should keep him. We know at this point that Cutler will not win many big games by himself, i.e., he will not be a Rodgers-type player who so frequently pushes his team over the top in big games just with his own abilities.

But Cutler can lead a team to a significant number of victories if he gets enough help. He is a talented veteran and there is reason to believe that with another off-season with Marc Trestman's coaching, he will improve. Or at least he will get better at finding the opportunities Trestman's offense gives him. Of course, the same holds true for Josh McCown.

So here we have a question of efficiency, i.e., what is the best quarterback play the Bears can get for the smallest contract hit possible (leaving the maximum number of dollars to be spent on other needs). And here is where Phil Emery's negotiating skills come into play. His best bet is to bring back either McCown or Cutler for the least amount of dollars possible, re-sign the kind of cagey veteran who clearly can thrive in Trestman's system as a backup (Jordan Palmer would be fine) and then draft a young quarterback with skills that appeal to the coach.

Trying to guess which young quarterback will someday be a Super Bowl MVP is a fool's pursuit. All you can do is give yourself the best chance of enjoying at least competent quarterback play by having more than one promising talent on hand.

We also knew well before Sunday that the Bears defense had aged into oblivion. If they had had a bit better luck with injuries, they might have performed better this season but it also wasn't rational to expect veterans like Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs to sail though a season without significant injury.

Emery tried to ensure there was at least a little depth at positions like linebacker, but when the team lost D.J. Williams for the season and then Briggs for an extended period, they were in trouble. The team had draft picks Khaseem Greene and Jon Bostic in place as possible replacements and sometimes young players like that can make the transition to the NFL quickly. We now know Greene and Bostic did not possess that capability. The same held true at defensive tackle, where the Bears lost too many players to injury to reasonably not expect a downgrade in performance.

As far as the safety position goes, Emery has struggled to find competent players just as Jerry Angelo did before him. I'm sure there will be some new candidates for Bears secondary jobs next training camp. If the Bears can keep their quarterback cost relatively low and perhaps at least re-work Julius Peppers' contract if not downright release him, they'll obviously have more money to spend on the position.

And finally, we knew before Sunday that Trestman was still a first-year coach. Hopefully in his second year and beyond he will be less likely to make game-changing mistakes like the second-down field goal attempt against the Vikings and leaving Jay Cutler in way too long against the Lions.

Goat: Conte
"Looking as devastated as every Bears fan felt early Sunday evening, safety Chris Conte slowly walked away from his locker declining comment on the biggest play of the season," David Haugh writes for the Tribune.

"Conte's eyes were red and his head was down as he stared at the carpet.

"There was a little miscommunication on that final play," cornerback Tim Jennings said a few stalls away.

"Chicagoans, we have a nomination for Biggest Understatement of 2013."

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"The heroes of Green Bay's winning touchdown were easy to identify," Bob Wolfley writes for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

"Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who made the throw. Wide receiver Randall Cobb, who made the catch. Fullback John Kuhn, who made the block to allow Rodgers to make the throw.

"The goat on that play was just as easy to spot, first by Fox game analyst Troy Aikman and then by NBC studio analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison.

"Whatever else Bears safety Chris Conte does with his career, he will carry the burden of having been the guy who failed to cover Cobb and hence the guy who helped keep his team from advancing to the playoffs."

Hero: Aaron Rodgers
"So what if Aaron Rodgers was rusty early Sunday afternoon?" Linsday H. Jones writes for USA Today.

"By Sunday evening, he was spectacular."

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"The legend of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is only going to grow bigger, bolder and better following a game-winning touchdown pass for the ages on Sunday at Soldier Field," Mike Vandermause writes for the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

"Rodgers has won bigger games, with a Super Bowl title under his belt. He has accomplished greater individual achievements, with an NFL MVP award in his trophy case. But what he did in the waning moments against the Bears, on a cold and blustery day with the Packers' season hanging in the balance, is the stuff of which legends are made."

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The play.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Zed's Dead at the Aragon on Friday night.


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

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3. Christopher Elam at the 9th Annual Alex Chilton Birthday Bash at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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4. Jeff Brown and the New Black at the Mayne Stage on Friday night.

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5. The New Originals at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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6. Abscissor at Township on Saturday night.

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7. Tonic Freight Train at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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8. Trans-Siberian Orchestra in Rosemont on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

Judge On NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn't Actually Support His Ruling

Update Dec. 28, 2013: In a new decision in support of the NSA's phone metadata surveillance program, U.S. district court Judge William Pauley cites an intelligence failure involving the agency in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. But the judge's cited source, the 9/11 Commission Report, doesn't actually include the account he gives in the ruling. What's more, experts say the NSA could have avoided the pre-9/11 failure even without the metadata surveillance program.

We previously explored the key incident in question, involving calls made by hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar from California to Yemen, in a story we did over the summer, which you can read below.

In his decision, Pauley writes: "The NSA intercepted those calls using overseas signals intelligence capabilities that could not capture al-Mihdhar's telephone number identifier. Without that identifier, NSA analysts concluded mistakenly that al-Mihdhar was overseas and not in the United States."

As his source, the judge writes in a footnote, "See generally, The 9/11 Commission Report." In fact, the 9/11 Commission report does not detail the NSA's intercepts of calls between al-Mihdhar and Yemen. As the executive director of the commission told us over the summer, "We could not, because the information was so highly classified, publicly detail the nature of or limits on NSA monitoring of telephone or e-mail communications."

To this day, some details related to the incident and the NSA's eavesdropping have never been aired publicly. And some experts told us that even before 9/11 - and before the creation of the metadata surveillance program - the NSA did have the ability to track the origins of the phone calls, but simply failed to do so.

* * *

This story was originally published on June 20, 2013, and updated on June 21, 2013.

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

Last weekend, former vice president Dick Cheney invoked the same argument.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key details about Mihdhar's activities and the NSA before 9/11 remain classified so it's difficult answer conclusively. Let's turn to the comments of FBI director Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary Committee last week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Richard Clarke, who was the White House counterterrorism czar beginning in 1998 and through 9/11, told ProPublica that the NSA had both the ability and legal authority to trace calls from Mihdhar to Yemen in 2000.

"Justice could have asked the FISA Court for a warrant to all phone companies to show all calls from the U.S. which went to the Yemen number. As far as I know, they did not do so. They could have," Clarke wrote in an e-mail. "My understanding is that they did not need the current All Calls Data Base FISA warrant to get the information they needed. Since they had one end of the calls (the Yemen number), all they had to do was ask for any call connecting to it."

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Previously:
* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

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

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

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

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

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

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

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

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

December 28, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

"Nearly 90 percent of interstate highway miles in Illinois will have 70-mph speed limits starting Wednesday, state transportation officials announced Friday, but the sponsor of the law raising the limits is upset almost all existing posted speeds in the Chicago area will remain unchanged and he vowed to push for them to be higher," the Tribune reports.

"'It's unacceptable,' said State. Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, who sponsored the bill that Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law in August. Oberweis said he was upset that IDOT, which had the authority to draw up the speed limit map, left unchanged the 55-mph speed limit across virtually all of the Chicago region. 'They're putting law-abiding citizens into danger.'"

To avert disaster, Oberweis said he'd hire a fleet of helicopters to evacuate anyone who felt they couldn't get out of the scary city fast enough.

Pig Report
"A strain of the swine flu is rapidly spreading throughout the Chicago area," CBS Chicago reports.

Officials attributed the problem to a rise in swine.

Rest In McPeace
McDonald's kills McResource Line.

Country Mice
"A nonprofit group has commissioned a public sculpture to remember a 1946 train crash in the Chicago suburb of Naperville that killed 45 people."

Sorry, suburbs, you'll never compete with the city no matter how hard you try.

Graterheads Seek Cheese Sandwiches
Not Dead Yet.

Love The Drake
Hate The Drake.

Obama (Doesn't) Care
"Workers in Nevada, California, Illinois, Georgia, and New Jersey will get hit hardest when jobless benefits expire [today]."

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: The future is unwritten.

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The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: We Regret The Errors.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "2013 Mixtapes & Ask The Critic."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: "Flying Saucer will be closed from Dec. 23 thru Dec. 31 for Winter Vacation. We will re-open on Dec. 31 at 10 a.m. to provide New Year awesomeness!"

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

JBTV's Don't Drink or Text and Drive Marathon

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A tradition for more than two decades, JBTV helps you rock into 2014 with a 10-hour marathon of live performances of emerging artists and national acts on CAN TV.

Saturday at noon on CAN TV19 & Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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Perspectivas Latinas: Mujeres de HACE

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Latina professionals offer their advice and experience to others who are looking to make an impact through their careers.

Saturday at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Exploring The Future Of The RTA

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Transportation experts weigh in on how the Regional Transportation Authority can adapt to better oversee and develop the region's evolving public transit network of elevated trains, commuter rail and buses.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Overcoming Barriers To Success: Resources For People With Disabilities

12-23-OvercomingBarriers.jpg

Universidad Popular hosts a community forum on the special needs of people with disabilities and services that help them flourish and contribute at home, at work, and in the community.

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

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Which Way Forward For Health Care Reform

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This three-way public debate between physicians takes on different sides of health care reform, including whether the program should be continued, abandoned for a free-market based system, or pushed further into a universal, single-payer system.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:56 AM | Permalink

December 27, 2013

The College Football Report: The Bowls Drone On

Our bowl series continues.

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
WINNER: WEIRDEST SPONSOR
Time: Friday, December 27, 2:30 p.m., ESPN (Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD)
Teams: Marshall Thundering Herd (-2.5) vs. Maryland Terrapins
Forecast: Classified.

Comment: Northrop Grumman edged out Royal Purple as our 2013 winner for weirdest sponsor. The name (Military) and location (Annapolis) lends naturally to an armed forces-related endorsement, but a multibillion dollar defense contractor known for manufacturing drones seems like a politically tone-deaf choice. Formed in 2008 under the name "The Congressional Bowl" before signing EagleBank as a sponsor, the bowl tie-ins include Army (if eligible) against the #8 ACC team, with the #5 Conference USA team serving as a backup if the Black Knights don't reach six wins. Thus, the Marshall-Maryland combination in 2013.

Maryland head coach Randy Edsall has yet to win a bowl game after taking the job in 2011. Edsall looked like a prime candidate to take over after UM ousted Ralph "the Fridge" Friedgen in 2010. Edsall had just led lowly UConn to four straight winning seasons and four bowl games, but has struggled with the Terrapins: 13-23 overall and 6-18 in ACC play. At this point, Maryland hardly seems ready to jump conferences into the Big Ten and Edsall's performance on Friday may set the tone for a make-or-break fourth year.

Speculating on Edsall's potential replacement may be more interesting than the game itself. Our picks: Dan McCarney of North Texas, Michigan State d-coordinator Pat Narduzzi, or Ohio State's Tom Herman. We'd give Herman the edge: he would bring a young, dynamic vibe to a languishing program and experience from the high-powered Buckeye offense. The Big Ten looks less and less like the grind-it-out conference of years past, and installing a pass-happy "O" could stimulate an otherwise moribund fanbase.

As for Marshall, football expert Phil Steele ranked the Herd among his "most improved" teams for the 2013 season. The results bear out his projection: after a losing record (5-7, 4-4 in Conference USA) in 2012, Doc Holliday (yes, that's really his name) took the Herd to 9-4 overall and 7-1 in C-USA.

Recent trends against the point spread seem to favor Maryland: the Terrapins have covered in last five games and six of the last seven against non-conference opponents.

Score updates throughout the game will be provided by a prototype of Northrop's classified RQ-180 drone, the latest in the company's line of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles commissioned by the Department of Defense. The development of the RQ-180 will reportedly give the US military an advantage in "contested" or "denied" airspace, where the less stealthy (and possibly compromised) RQ-170 would be less effective. What does all this mean? Essentially, that by 2015 (at the latest) the US will be able to blithely pilot enormous (reportedly with a wingspan up to 130 feet) drones over long distances for days at a time, flying undetected by radar, spying on hostile, neutral, and allied targets alike.

Too bad Army wasn't eligible this year. No doubt the RQ-180 is capable of reading lips and playsheets from long distances.

CFR Pick: Maryland
Sacred Chicken Proprietary Final Score Prophesy (SCPFSP): Marshall 48, Maryland 15

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Texas Bowl
WINNER: BOWLS YOU KNEW EXISTED BUT HAD FORGOTTEN ABOUT
Time: Friday, December 27, 6 p.m., ESPN (Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX)
Teams: Syracuse Orange vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (-4)
Forecast: Mixed. Texas is big.

Comment: We always forget about the Texas Bowl. One of six bowls in the state of Texas, the Texas Bowl takes place first (followed by the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, et al.), has the least interesting match-up, and lacks a compelling storyline. The Texas Bowl began life as The Houston Bowl (which was played in Houston) followed by the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas but, appropriately enough for such a lackluster game, has yet to secure a sponsor other than Texas.

Texas Bowl organizers have a wealth of options at hand for future sponsors, ranging from the well-known and well-regarded (Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines), to the obscure (Commercial Metals Company, Flowserve Corp.), the menacing (Halliburton), and the despised (BP, Exxon). Our vote is for Waste Management, headquartered in Houston, which is in Texas. The national exposure could help the company promote its "new waste solutions."

Alternatively, the bowl could branch out into neighboring Mexico to become The Mexico Bowl (to be played in Mexico) or could become the first bowl in North America, The North America Bowl, provided the organizers could find a suitable location in North America.

CFR Pick: Gophers
SCPFSP: Syracuse 25, Minnesota 28

*

Fight Hunger Bowl
Time: Friday, December 27, 9:30 p.m., ESPN (AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA)
Teams: Washington Huskies (-4.5) vs. Brigham Young Cougars
Forecast: Scattered clouds, 46 degrees.

Comment: Finally, a sponsor we can all get behind.

Visiting fans looking to fight hunger should try Paul Martin's American Grill, "a classic American restaurant with a California twist." Even the insufferable food snobs in the Bay Area find the fare passable, even noteworthy, at least for a chain restaurant located (gasp) in a shopping mall.

One reviewer loved the smoked chicken bites and the "toothsome" Caesar kale salad, despite the excessive "thick dressing" which "undermined" the dish, but faulted the "uneven execution" of the entrees, such as the "barely cooked" albacore tuna. We're left to assume that Martin's rises above the likes of Applebee's and Outback by virtue of the attentive waitstaff, as the reviewer, no doubt stressed by the surrounding horde of hoi polloi, never felt "neglected" and appreciatively accepted their server's apology for bringing out the orders "so quickly."

CFR Pick: Under 65
SCPFSP: Washington 2, BYU 52

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:13 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"It's an equation any math teacher should be able to solve: 1 check for $3,000 + X recipient = 1 successful charitable donation," the Tribune reports.

"But after both the Park District and public library in Morton Grove declined to accept the $3,000 he raised, high school math teacher and atheist blogger Hemant Mehta is hoping he and fellow atheists can find a home for their contribution with a local food pantry.

"I can't believe how hard it is to get rid of $3,000," he said in a YouTube video, announcing plans to give the money to the Niles Township Food Pantry.

Here's that video:

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Making It A Square
$42.5 Million Approved For Circle Interchange.

Ghost Of Douchebag Past, Present & Future
Brian Urlacher To Appear In A Christmas Carol.

He Should've Gone To Jared
"A man wanted in connection with a $1 million jewelry heist earlier this year in Pine Township was arrested early Friday in Chicago, according to police," WPXI in Pennsylvania reports.

"Authorities said 30-year-old Oscar Rodriguez was stopped by police after officers said he was standing in the middle of South Kedzie Avenue just before 3 a.m."

Getaway City
"Investigators on the hunt for a cold-blooded cop killer expanded their dragnet Friday to Chicago - five days after the suspect opened fire while making a getaway from a Mississippi bank," the New York Daily News reports.

Cluster Suck
"DeMet's Candy Company, the creator of Flipz chocolate pretzels and Turtles covered nut clusters that was founded in Chicago in 1898, is being sold to the Turkish owner of Godiva Chocolates for $221 million," Reuters reports, citing a Wall Street Journal report.

"DeMet's Candy Company was originally started in 1898 as a Chicago candy store business and soda shop by George DeMet. The DeMet family grew the business in the Chicago area over the next 50 years before it sold the company to a Canadian chocolate maker."

Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's
The Fried Chicken King.

Crime Wave
"The positive news is that Archer-Daniels-Midland is doing the right thing and remaining in Illinois despite getting no 'bribe' to do so, but a negative variation is the state's wrong-headed attempt - along with more than 20 other states - to woo Boeing's proposed plant by giving into economic extortion," Bill Knight writes for the Pekin Daily Times.

"It's past time for consumers and government, together and separately, to stand up and stop corporate blackmail."

Least Graceful President Ever
Obama Finally Lets Clarence Aaron Go Home.

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
We Regret The Errors.

The College Football Report
Was HOT-N-READY for Pitt.

Note: The (World's Best) College Football Report Bowl Series will appear on an as needed basis through the end of the season to meet the demands of the schedule. Yay!

The Week In Chicago Rock
Presumably due to the holiday, there really wasn't one. We'll return to rocking next week.

The Year In Spying
The NSA Finally Admitted Its Collect-It-All Strategy.

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So It Goes

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Be the needle in the haystack.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

Obama Finally Lets Clarence Aaron Go Home

President Obama has ordered an early release from prison for Clarence Aaron, who has spent 20 years there, hoping for mercy.

Aaron's commutation is one of eight crack cocaine-related sentences commuted last week. Obama said the sentences were meted out under an "unfair system" that among other things featured a vast disparity between crack and powder cocaine cases.

The White House ordered a new review of Aaron's petition last year after ProPublica and the Washington Post reported that the government's pardon attorney, Ronald Rodgers, had misrepresented Aaron's case to President George W. Bush.

An inspector general's report released last December supported ProPublica's findings, and referred the incident to the deputy attorney general to determine if "administrative action is appropriate."

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to our questions about the status of the deputy attorney general's review.

As a first-time, non-violent drug offender sentenced to three life terms in 1993, Aaron had seemed a model candidate for presidential mercy.

He first applied for a commutation - meaning early release - in 2001.

"He was just overcome," said his attorney, Margaret Love, who spoke with Aaron shortly after he received the news. "We're very grateful to the president."

Aaron's release is effective April 17, though Love said he may go home sooner.

The president also announced 13 pardons. Before that, Obama had issued 39 pardons and commuted one sentence, granting clemency at a lower rate than any other president in recent history.

(While a commutation grants early release, pardons are given to people who have already served their sentences or have never been jailed, restoring for instance their right to vote.)

When asked about Obama's low clemency rate at a recent press conference, attorney general Eric Holder said "We are at year five I guess of eight, so I would say hold on."

Prominent lawyers have called for an overhaul of the pardons system and the way in which recommendations are made to the president.

ProPublica found major racial disparity among successful pardon applicants.

The Justice Department has commissioned its own study of race and clemency, which as of August, it said was "ongoing."

Holder made no mention of pardons in a major speech on criminal justice reform this summer, but spoke against "draconian mandatory minimum sentences," and a system in which "too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long."

The fact that the commutations all involved crack cocaine, Love said, "says something very important about the long federal sentences for drug crimes. There are a lot of people in prison whose cases are similar to the ones being commuted."

"Now that the president has opened the door to doing commutations, he might make it a more regular activity, and not just save it for the holidays or the end of his term," said Julie Stewart, president of the group Families Against Mandatory Minimums. "He certainly has plenty of cases that he could choose from. I guess that time will tell."

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

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

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

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See also: Obama Can Pardon Turkeys, So Why Not Immigrants?

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:03 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's

The Fried Chicken King.

haroldschickenorig1.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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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.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:49 AM | Permalink

We Regret The Errors

Definitely would have been more fun if Hawk Harrelson had called the game - you know, like driving is more fun when you're doing whip-its.

You know, Stone Pony, I played on a pretty bad team in KC back in '64, we were down 21 to nothin' to the Philadelphia Mexicans that year on several occasions . . . several. We called 'em that because there was a guy named Tony Gonzalez playing center, but let me tell you sumthin', We never put on such a poor display of athletics-ism as the Bears are dumpin' out there right now. Never would have happened in KC . . . not while Manny "Dos Numeros" Jimenez was roaming left center. Wore number 15 and 20 that year, did Manny. We had four Mexican outfielders that year, if you counted me . . .

As I write this I'm beginning to believe that Hawk is just a slightly spryer version of Grandpa Simpson.

Thanks to excessive holiday Scotch intake, I've erased much of this game from my memory. By all accounts, the game was terrible.

"I thought we had a . . . game plan," "said" Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, postgame. "Obviously, we didn't . . . "

'Nuff said. Moving on.

I Am The One Who Knocks* . . . You Out Of The Playoffs
Other than the fact the Lions managed to piss away the division, who could have predicted a final week of the 2013 regular season like this?

The Bears and Packers are gearing up for battle to determine who will suffer an embarrassing first-round loss against the Saints.

The Vikings still haven't been told they were eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago, or that an 18-game season hasn't been implemented yet, and have re-signed Donovan McNabb in hopes of making a push for the postseason.

But who can blame them.

Seemingly everybody in the NFL except the Vikings and Lions are participating in a game that has playoff implications. The scenarios are so convoluted that they include the Dolphins making the playoffs only if they lose, and Kyle Orton, the only quarterback in history whose water bottle is filled with Jack Daniel's Barbeque Glaze, is leading the Cowboys to a division title.

Which in a weird way means the Bears have as good a chance as anybody to win a couple games in a row. Remember when they did that at the beginning of the year?

If you don't, then you've probably been partying in the back of a limo with Kyle Orton.

But first things first. The Bears may have to play - and I stress may, because Shea McClellin is rumored to still be in the Bears employ - an entire game against an Aaron Rodgers-led Packer squad chomping at the bit to notch their eighth win of the year.

Can they do it? It's entirely possible.

Just puff out your chest and remind the world that a company big enough to be listed on the NASDAQ disappears if you don't show up to work on Sunday.

Errors And Omissions
Last week's column sported a number of errors, though the one that caused the biggest kerfuffle was my declaration that it was possible that the Bears could legitimately play the Eagles in the first round of the playoffs, even though the only scenario in which the Bears and Eagles both make the playoffs is if they each win their division, thus matching them up with wild-card teams.

Angry letters were written, slurs were hurled and two staffers in the editing department were nearly burned at the stake for letting this inaccuracy make it to print.

Before anybody besides intern Randy gets hurt (he will be missed), let me offer some insight into the methods that take The Blue And Orange Kool-Aid Report (BAOKAR) from my asshole to the internets.

During the arduous process of editing of the season's first column, the editorial team at The Beachwood Reporter calculated that fact-checking or even spell-checking an average BOOKAAR would praduce an additional 1,000-wurd addendum to the following weeks collumm.

They also discovered that Carl can bench press a Toyota Forerunner and that he should totally try out for the Bulls, because he's 6-foot-7 with a great turnaround jumper.

Because of the demand for original written content (read: the Internet's white space between cat memes), a compromise was struck between the "talent" and the cutting crew.

We decided to eschew a bit of journalistic integrity for the sake of efficiency, knowing that retractions would have to be produced at some point.

It was left to me and the low intern on the totem pole (rest in peace, Randy) to circle back on the season's body of work and address the most egregious of the inaccuracies.

  • Week 2 - Bears vs. Vikings: Jared Allen was not in Predator, nor did he become the governor of "Dicksville," Kentucky, in a narrow victory over Carl Weathers.
  • Week 3 - Bears at Steelers: Jerricho Cotchery is a wide receiver on the Pittsburgh Steelers and not the villain in an unpublished Mark Twain novella.
  • Week 4 - Bears at Lions: Jim Schwartz was (you heard me) the coach of the Detroit Lions and not a ranking colonel in the devil's army of human shit.
  • Week 5 - Bears vs. Saints: Drew Brees did throw beads into the crowd in an effort to get fans to take off their shirts; however, he did not plan on making this happen.
  • Week 6 - Bears vs. Giants: There is no "I" in team.
  • Week 7 - Bears at Washington: I copied/pasted a column I wrote in October 2010 about the then-upcoming Bears/Washington tilt in Soldier Field. The predictions for Ryan Torain's rushing totals should have been a dead giveaway.
  • Week 8 - Bye Week: I wrote 2,200-word column about the upcoming rubber match between the Bears and the Oilers . . . the Edmonton Oilers.
  • Week 9 - Bears at Packers: The capital of Montana is Helena.
  • Week 10 - Bears vs. Lions: Turns out Barry Sanders is alive and well.
  • Week 11 - Bears vs. Ravens: We mistakenly printed the caption "Joe Flacco throws for 350 yards, overcomes Estonian stereotypes" under a photo of Troy Smith.
  • Week 12 - Bears at Rams: The Rams logo is not derived from a satanic ritual. That would be the Cowboys'.
  • Week 13 - Bears at Vikings: Adrian Peterson is fueled by banana peels and crumpled beer cans, not HGH.
  • Week 14 - Bears vs Cowboys: Jimmy Johnson isn't just the president of ExtenZe, he's also a client. We inaccurately reported that he was merely a spokesman.
  • Week 15 - Bears at Browns: "Chris Ogboyanna," is not spelled with a "K."
  • Week 16 - Bears at Eagles: Joe Walsh was never officially a fullback for the Eagles.

My Two Front Teeth
What do you get the men who have every conceivable luxury?

It's a yearly conundrum for the wives and mistresses of the professional football player. It's too late for 2013, but for those of you looking to get a jump on the 2014 iteration of capitalism's favorite holiday, here are some ideas:

  • Josh McCown: A "safe" place to put the multi-millions of dollars he earned himself, like a hiding spot in the attic.
  • Shea McClellin: A job.
  • Marc Trestman: Because his face only looks right under a hat, additional hats.
  • Martellus Bennett: A box of Count Chocula. We're expanding our horizons.
  • Matt Forte: Tickets to Gwar.
  • Tim Jennings: Ed Hochuli's bestseller Make Triceps And Influence Others.

Kool-Aid (5 Pitchers Of Blue Kool-Aid and 5 Pitchers Of Orange Kool-Aid)
C'mon, this is pretty fun.

Nobody wanted to see them get annihilated by Philly last week, but for what the Bears and Packers are this season, this is a perfect finisher. Kind of like the cheeseburger you go out to eat after you discover that escargot tastes like greasy shit, or the fat girl who responds to the "you up?" text at 2:45 a.m.

The Bears should win. They've got a better offense. And while eating pallets of cheese sped up the calcification process of his healing collarbone, Aaron Rodgers can't possibly be 100%, especially with the constipation caused by all of that cheese.

Plus, with a 9-7 record, you'll still have a home team with more wins than the AFC's 6th seed.

It's time to feel good!

Take that fans of the Chargers, Dolphins, Ravens, or Steelers!

Take that fans of expensive French cuisine!

Take that terrible other teams in the NFC North!

The 2013 Bears: I've banged fatter!

Bears 28
Packers 27

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*Fans of crafting homemade Breaking Bad shirts, here is your next assignment.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:01 AM | Permalink

December 26, 2013

The College Football Report: HOT-N-READY

Our bowl series continues.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Time: Thursday, December 26, 6 p.m., ESPN (Ford Field, Detroit)

Teams: Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green (-7)

Forecast: Dough, followed by sauce and cheese

Comment: Mid-American Conference champions Bowling Green (10-3, 7-1 MAC) lost head coach Dave Clawson to Wake Forest following the close of the regular season, but look to be HOT-N-READY for this match-up versus the Panthers (6-6, 3-5 ACC). Despite a marginal regular-season record, Pittsburgh received a bowl bid by . . . well, we aren't sure. The Little Caesars should host the #2 team from the MAC against the #8 Big Ten squad or, lacking the latter, an eligible (i.e. six or more wins) team from the Sun Belt, or (!) an at-large selection. Bowl organizers must have taken a pass on the likes of Texas State (6-6, 2-5 Sun Belt), in favor of the vaguely nearby Panthers.

Bettors loved the 'dogs early, pushing the opening point spread, which favored BGSU by six, down all the way to four points, prior to the action coming in this week reversing course. The Falcons, now "giving" seven points, may be overvalued. Pitt's senior QB Tom Savage (2,834 yards, 21 TDs, 9 INTs) can spread the ball around, but his preferred target - WR Tyler Boyd - may prove the difference-maker. Boyd broke all the school receiving records for a freshman, previously held by All-American (and current Arizona Cardinal) Larry Fitzgerald. Boyd should command double coverage all night, otherwise Bowling Green risks getting burned on a DEEP!DEEP! route.

CFR Pick: Pittsburgh to win (+225) and the Over (49.5)

Sacred Chicken Proprietary Final Score Prophesy (SCPFSP): Pittsburgh 48, Bowling Green 22

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San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

NOMINEE: BEST DESTINATION

Time: Thursday, December 26, 9:30 p.m., ESPN (Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA)

Teams: Utah State (-1.5) vs. #23 Northern Illinois

Forecast: Mostly sunny, High 76 degrees, Low 47. Bastards.

Comment: The Huskies (12-1, 8-1 MAC) blew a chance at the BCS in the MAC championship game, losing to (aforementioned) Bowling Green, 47-27, a game in which Heisman finalist QB Jordan Lynch put up un-Lynch like numbers. Lynch set the single-game rushing record twice this year (with 316 yards on October 19, followed by 321 six weeks later) and became only the fifth player in history to post 20 touchdowns rushing and passing in a single season. But Lynch was noticeably off in the title game, managing to break 100 yards rushing, but only threw for 219 yards and compounded his difficulties with two interceptions.

We expect Lynch to bounce back in a big way. The Huskies should send out the senior in style, Utah State's stifling defense notwithstanding. The senior needs to break 119 yards rushing to become the first-ever quarterback to run and pass for more than 2,000 yards in a single season and has an outside shot of taking over the all-time rushing record by a quarterback. (Former Wolverine Denard Robinson holds the record with 4,495 yards.)

The Aggies (8-5, 7-1 Mountain West) boast the #7 defense in points against in the entire FBS, which is a gaudy stat for a Mountain West team forced to play high-scoring offenses like Utah and Boise State. But all that 'D' may not help if Utah State can't field a quarterback. Starter Chuck Keeton is out, backup Darell Garretson suffered a head injury in the season finale to Fresno State, and some guy named Craig Harrison, a junior third-stringer, ended the game with a grim stat line: 4-9, 55 yards, 0 TDs, and . . . one INT, deep in Fresno territory . . . to lose the game.

CFR Pick: Northern Illinois

SCPFSP: Utah State 2, Northern Illinois 46

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Tamerlan Tsarnaev first heard the voice when he was a young man," the Boston Globe reports.

It came to him at unexpected times, an internal rambling that he alone could hear. Alarmed, he confided to his mother that the voice "felt like two people inside of me."

As he got older, the voice became more authoritative, its bidding more insistent. Tamerlan confided in a close friend that the voice had begun to issue orders and to require him to perform certain acts, though he never told his friend specifically what those acts were.

"He was torn between those two people," said Donald Larking, 67, who attended the mosque with Tamerlan for nearly two years. "He said that several times. And he did not like it."

Federal investigators have suspected that Tamerlan, the 26-year-old boxer from southern Russia who is believed, along with his brother, to have set off the deadly Boston Marathon bombs in April, was motivated, if not deliberately directed, by real life jihadist revolutionaries on the other side of the globe. But an investigation by the Boston Globe suggests that Tamerlan was in the perilous grip of someone far more menacing: himself.

The Globe corroborated with several people who knew him just how plagued Tamerlan felt by the inner voices. Some family acquaintances feared for his mental health, among them a doctor concerned it could be schizophrenia. The Globe's five-month investigation, with reporting in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Canada, and the United States, also:

  • Fundamentally recasts the conventional public understanding of the brothers, showing them to be much more nearly coequals in failure, in growing desperation, and in conspiracy.
  • Establishes that the brothers were heirs to a pattern of violence and dysfunction running back several generations. Their father, Anzor, scarred by brutal assaults in Russia and later in Boston, often awoke screaming and tearful at night. Both parents sought psychiatric care shortly after arriving in the United States but apparently sought no help for Tamerlan even as his mental condition grew more obvious and worrisome.
  • Casts doubt on the claim by Russian security officials that Tamerlan made contact with or was recruited by Islamist radicals during his visit to his family homeland.
  • Raises questions about the Tsarnaevs' claim that they came to this country as victims of persecution seeking asylum. More likely, they were on the run from elements of the Russian underworld whom Anzor had fallen afoul of. Or they were simply fleeing economic hardship.

This is journalism crucial to our understanding of what happened in Boston that day and why - and how it should and shouldn't color our perception of "terror" and those who commit it. It is also yet another testament to the importance of treating mental illness properly; that alone could greatly reduce so many societal problems, including crime.

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Related:

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Kennedy Flip-Flop
"[W]hile the reversible lanes did alleviate traffic congestion in a significant way in the past, they are losing their impact," the Expired Meter notes.

"That's because the Illinois Department of Transportation says the level of inbound vs. outbound traffic has been trending toward parity, compared to the past when traffic was heavier coming inbound in the morning and outbound in the evening."

Pussy Riot: The Music
A public service announcement - with guitars.

KCav: It Was All Fake
Why it was also brilliant.

Edward Snowden's Christmas Message
Orwell warned us.

Meet Our State Poet Laureate
Successor to Gwendolyn Brooks, Carl Sandburg.

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It Writes Itself

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Dibs.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:25 AM | Permalink

Meet Our State Poet Laureate

"A decade ago this month, Kevin Stein was chosen for a daunting task: following two Pulitzer Prize winners, Gwendolyn Brooks and Carl Sandburg, as the poet laureate of Illinois," Caryn Rousseau reports for AP.

"Ten years later the Bradley University professor has put his own signature on a position that is unpaid but considered crucial to widening appreciation for the art form. He has created a state poetry website and donates money out of his own pocket to buy poetry books for libraries across the state."

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"Stein, 59, is Illinois' fourth poet laureate. Howard Austin, a teacher and banker from a family farm near Blue Mound, took the position in 1936 and held it until he died in 1962. Sandburg held the post from 1962 until his death in 1967. Brooks served for 32 years, from 1968 until she died in 2000.

"Illinois went without a poet laureate until December 2003, when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich named Stein to the post. Today the unfunded post has a four-year term, and Stein is in the middle of his third term."

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Shouldn't there be term limits? Like, one per poet?

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Bradley University Illinois Poet Laureate Site.

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"Kevin Stein is Illinois' Poet Laureate. Stein came to Bradley in 1984 from Indiana University, where he received the Ph.D. in American literature and the M. A. in Creative Writing. He currently serves as Caterpillar Professor of English at Bradley University."

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Poetry's Afterlife: Verse In The Digital Age.

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On Being A Nielsen Family.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

Kristin Cavallari: It Was All Fake

"Kristin Cavallari says everything on her reality shows was fake, fake, fake!" RadarOnline reports.

"The MTV darling, who starred on Laguna Beach and then The Hills, sat down with Bethenny Frankel, herself a veteran reality star, and RadarOnline has the video where she revealed all the ways her shows were not real."

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

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video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

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But here's the thing.

Brilliant.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:50 AM | Permalink

Edward Snowden's Christmas Message

Orwell warned us.

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Previously:
* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

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

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

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

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

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

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

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

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:32 AM | Permalink

Pussy Riot: The Music

"Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were reunited on Tuesday after spending nearly two years in prison for their protest at Moscow's main cathedral, and said they want to set up a human rights organization," the Guardian reports.

"Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina were granted amnesty on Monday, two months before their scheduled release, in what was interpreted as an attempt by the Kremlin to soothe criticism of Russia's human rights record prior to the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

"Alekhina flew into the eastern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk early on Tuesday to meet Tolokonnikova. They have said the amnesty and their release was a publicity stunt by the Kremlin ahead of the Olympics. Tolokonnikova has also called for a boycott of the Olympics.

"Alekhina, still dressed in a dark-green prison jacket, hugged Tolokonnikova and then shook hands.

"Both women reiterated their statement on Monday that they intend to work to help prisoners, and that they will discuss setting up a human rights organization.

"A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on a suspended sentence shortly after the three were found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison in 2012 for their protest at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow."

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Talking to CNN.

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Translations via YouTube.

Punk Prayer.

St. Maria, Virgin, drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!

Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners are crawling and bowing
The ghost of freedom is in heaven
Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB is their chief saint
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend the Holy
Women have to give birth and to love

Holy shit, shit, Lord's shit!
Holy shit, shit, Lord's shit!

St. Maria, Virgin, become a feminist
Become a feminist, become a feminist

Church praises the rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
In school you are going to meet with a teacher-preacher
Go to class - bring him money!

Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, you better believed in God
Belt of the Virgin is no substitute for mass-meetings
In protest of our Ever-Virgin Mary!

St. Maria, Virgin, drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!

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Like A Red Prison.

Gruel-Propaganda, Gruel-Propagandaaaa!

The country has hardly mastered
Mechanized labor.
More and more often when I'm working hard
I am rude, I don't know if it's appropriate.

Local activists flow down the pipeline,
Filling it with life and calling for destruction!
Federal Penitentiary Service, Interior Ministry, Emergency Situations Ministry, and Rosnano,
LUKoil, TNK, Rosneft, and Gazprom,

Gruel-Propaganda, Gruel-Propagandaaaa!

Get registration,
Evildoers at the oil towers,
Oil on the tables,
Sechin with crocodiles,
Like in a red prison.

Bathe the worker in the Norwegian fjord,
Cut off your penis like the Depardieu character,
You have a president like Iran's ayatollah,
And your church is like it is in the U.A.E.
So, let everything be like it is in Qatar,
Evildoers at the oil towers,
Pumping till its dry,
A physics university teaches theology,
Epaulettes and oil wells,
Navalny in jail,
Hugo Chavez lives,
Like in a red prison.

Evil fucking sexist, leave the hole alone!

Homophobic vermin, out from history!

Don't fuck with her pussycat,
She spends oil on something else.
In the Mordovian days' quiet,
She makes salads and sometimes eats them.

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Putin Lights Up The Fires.

This state may be stronger than time in jail.
The more arrests, the happier it is.
Every arrest is carried out with love for the sexist
Who botoxed his cheeks and pumped his chest and abs.
But you can't nail us in the coffin.
Throw off the yoke of former KGB!
Putin is lighting the fires of revolution
He's bored and scared of sharing silence with the people
With every execution: the stench of rotten ash
With every long sentence: a wet dream
The country is going, the country is going into the streets boldly
The country is going, the country is going to bid farewell to the regime
The country is going, the country is going, like a feminist wedge
And Putin is going, Putin is going to say goodbye like a sheep
Arrest the whole city for May 6th
Seven years isn't enough, give us 18!
Forbid us to scream, walk and curse!
Go and marry Father Lukashenko

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:51 AM | Permalink

December 25, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Everybody knows Rudolph was the last reindeer to join Santa's crew, but few people know about the department store copywriter who brought his story to the world," Jessica Pupovac reports for NPR.

"The year was 1939, the Great Depression was waning and a manager at Montgomery Ward in Chicago decided that the store should create its own children's book for the annual holiday promotion."

Click through for the rest of the story.

Jailhouse Rocks
"Francis Cardinal George plans to celebrate Christmas with a Mass at the Cook County Jail and by visiting hospitalized children," AP reports.

It's gonna be busy there.

Santa Chuck
Waitress Gets $1,100 Tip After Giving $1,000 To Wrong Man.

Chicago resident Chuck Behm did the deed.

Pardon Us
"Thirty-eight people have been granted clemency by Gov. Pat Quinn for crimes that date back decades," AP reports.

"Quinn announced Tuesday that he also denied another 129 petitions for clemency."

Holiday News Dump
Quinn Appoints Jackson Son, Wife Of Ex-Staffer.

Paging OSHA
4,300 Pounds Of Sheet Metal Fall On Employee In Libertyville.

Housing Bubble
He should have rented.

QB Quandary
Josh McCown isn't sure he'll play next season.

A Is For A------
Christians and atheists spar on Daley Plaza.

Morton Grove Library Rejects Check From Atheist
Says he is a hate group.

And The Winner Is . . .
The BGA's Top Ten Investigations of 2013.

Anonymous Donor Pays For Nebraska Bridge
Check came from his Chicago attorney.

Eke Into Playoffs
Bears have the 8th-best Christmas tree in the league.

Dear Megyn Kelly
Santa black, bad.

Plus, Free Agents
For Joe Girardi, Every Day Is Christmas.

Happy New Year
New Taxes, Fee Increases For Chicago In 2014.

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Another Christmas Miracle

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It Was The Year Of Butter Stamos

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tippling tippers tipsy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

December 24, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday announced the members of a grocery store task force that will work to find new owners for stores left vacant after Safeway closes all Dominick's stores in the Chicago-area Dec. 28," the Tribune reports.

Proposition: Buy this empty grocery store and we'll throw in an empty school for free!

Safe Passage
"Schools of small fish are capable of crossing an electrical barrier designed to keep Asian carp from using the Chicago ship canal to enter the Great Lakes, according to a new research report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," AP reports.

What Jesus Wouldn't Do
"Christian Activists Show Their Love By Covering Chicago Atheist Display."

Future Of The Blues Snuffed Out
Remembering Eric 'Guitar' Davis.

Did They Check The Internet?
"In a bizarre case, Chicago authorities can't account for 1,216 cats," Catster reports.

Actually, not funny.

"In September, the city received a complaint about Purrs From The Heart, alleging that the cats it 'rescued' were living in inhumane conditions. Now, a week or so into the investigation, the state's Department of Agriculture says it can't account for 1,216 cats Purrs From The Heart pulled between April and September . . .

"When state officials went to a South Side apartment where as many as 150 cats in Purrs From The Heart's care had once lived, there no cats were there. The organization also said it sent a bunch of cats to a rural barn; investigators didn't find any cats there, either. Oh, and oops - neither the apartment nor the rural barn were authorized foster providers."

Click through for details, plus a link to a Tribune story on the matter.

Eight Arms To Hold You
Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

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See also: David Gregory's NSA Source: His Wife.

Burn The Fucking System To The Ground
It can't be fixed because it's not broken.

In The Air
Better than Beyoncé.

Bears Tix Still Available
But pricey, says Wheeler News Service.

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See also: Packers Week: A Cold, Stinky, Beer-Filled Rivalry For Domination Of The Universe.

Grievances Aired
"Lakeview Decorating Decision Ends In Holiday Buzzkill."

Infrastructure Bust
"The Chicago Infrastructure Trust has delayed to January from December the timeline for bringing its inaugural deal to the City Council for approval," Bond Buyer reports.

I don't have a subscription so I can't tell you more.

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The trust is featured in the December issue of Governing. I haven't read it yet but let's hope it's a bit of a reality check. Perhaps if it wasn't rushed through the city council at Rahm's behest, it could have been better thought-out.

Beatbox This!
"And you thought daily beatboxing practice with high-octane percussive sounds would ruin your kid's voice?" IANS reports.

"Not really. If we believe H. Steven Sims of University of Illinois in Chicago, beatboxing may actually be gentler on vocal cords - even softer than singing itself!"

Click through for the details.

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Sims' research videos.

Holiday News Dump

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* Kirk Dillard released his taxes late Friday afternoon.

* Bruce Rauner released his taxes the Monday of Thanksgiving week.

* Bill Brady released his taxes a week ago Monday.

'Tis the season.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: One line to hold you.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:13 AM | Permalink

Packers Week

"Packers Lose, Will Face Bears For Division Title."

See, that's another way to look at it.

Plus, it's only weird when he does it.

The NFL's oldest rivalry in five parts.

1. The NFL on CBS 1989.


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2. It's very cold.

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3. Tastes great, less filling.

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4. They start young.

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5. Go Darth Vader.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:26 AM | Permalink

Remembering Eric 'Guitar' Davis

"Eric 'Guitar' Davis, son of drummer Bobby 'Top Hat' Davis, was shot and killed near his Chicago home yesterday, police have confirmed," The Blues Magazine reports.

"The 41-year-old, who was given his first guitar lesson by Buddy Guy, was found dead in his car with bullet wounds in his neck and torso. He was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after 6 am..

"Davis and his band The Troublemakers has recently signed a deal with Delmark Records. Boss Bob Koester says: 'He was next in line for the blues before these guys shot him.'"

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Tony Mangiullo, owner of Rosa's Lounge, where Davis often played, said the world has lost "the future of the blues."

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"Eric was a rising star on the Chicago blues scene who had a terrific band with horn section, a blazing guitar style and soulful vocals," Tom Marker of WXRT's Blues Breakers writes.

"He had a kind of bad-ass look on stage, but off stage his many friends remember him as a family man with a big smile. In a genre of music where many of the biggest names are veteran players who have been around for awhile, Eric, at age 41, was considered a young player who could help lead Chicago Blues to a bright and exciting future."

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Eric Davis Memorial Fund.

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Benefit concert.

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Facebook page.

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At Rosa's, December 2011:

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At Rosa's, December 2011.

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At The Big Muddy Blues Festival in St. Louis, 2010:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying

Eight arms to hold you.


Previously:
* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

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

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

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

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

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

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

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

-

See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:27 AM | Permalink

December 23, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"Questions abound about whether Cutler can stay healthy enough to lead a team to a championship and whether he is simply good enough to do so, and they have been out there way before the Bears embarrassed themselves 11-54 last night (I'm using the backwards score kind of the same way the military uses an upside down flag - to signal extreme distress)," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes in SportsMonday: Bears Stinks.

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At least Henry Melton put up a fight.

Too easy?

Pinball Press
"For more than a decade, Stern Pinball was the only manufacturer of pinball machines. The Chicago-based company's last rival closed down in 1999," NPR reports.

"But Stern's pinball monopoly may be drawing to an end. In 2011, the start-up manufacturer Jersey Jack Pinball opened for business, and it's working hard to grab a slice of the industry."

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"Stern Pinball did not respond to press inquiries for this story."

Passive Footprint
"Builder Brandon Weiss of Weiss Building and Development LLC completed the first ever passive house in the Chicago area, which was designed by architect Tom Bassett-Dilley," Jetson Green reports.

"Located at 1430 Jackson Ave., River Forest, IL, this 3,598-square-foot single-family residence has a HERS rating of 28 and has received the Passive house certification (PHIUS), while it is also a DOE Challenge Home and Healthy Home Initiative Certified. This home is the first PHIUS certified house in the Chicago area and only the 28th such home in the U.S."

Sticker Shock
"While the Affordable Care Act clearly benefits those at the low and high ends of the income scale, many middle-class Americans don't qualify for health care subsidies, and are facing steep premium prices," the New York Times reports.

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"As a key enrollment deadline hits Monday, many people without health insurance have been sizing up policies on the new government health care marketplace and making what seems like a logical choice: They're picking the cheapest one," AP reports.

"Increasingly, experts in health insurance are becoming concerned that many of these first-time buyers will be in for a shock when they get medical care next year and discover they're on the hook for most of the initial cost."

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See also the Beachwood archives for a huge heaping of I Told You So.

Return Game
"Based on its annual return policy survey, ConsumerWorld says that three major stores have shortened their return periods, but most retailers' return policies have remained about the same as last year.

"According to the National Retail Federation, 28% of stores surveyed change their return policies for the holidays, while 72% keep them the same. These special holiday policies typically extend the normal return period into January or even February. Consumer World found a few high-profile stores, however, have tightened restrictions for goods like electronics and appliances."

Chairman Rahm
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in China to promote Chicago business opportunities on a trip paid for by the city's economic development agency," the Tribune reports.

"During the two-day trip that wraps up Monday, Emanuel is expected to sign an economic partnership agreement with eight Chinese cities, mayoral spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said Sunday."

Later, he'll join Mariah Carey's tour.

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"Emanuel has hosted Chinese delegations in Chicago, including the country's vice minister of commerce, Wang Chao, and last month, Vice Premier Liu Yandong."

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Liu Yandong is "the eldest member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China . . . Between 2002 and 2007, she served as the head of the United Front, an organization that keeps non-Communist Chinese political parties in line with the general ideology of the Communist Party. Having long been an ally of Party General Secretary Hu Jintao and ascended from the ranks of the Communist Youth League, she entered the 17th Politburo of the Communist Party of China in 2007."

Sources say they discussed unelected school boards, rubber stamp legislative bodies and elite schools for kids of party leaders.

Too easy? Hey, it's a holiday week.

Fixed It
Tribune Company Embarks On Latest Cockamamie Scheme To Satisfy A CEO's Ego.

Chicago's Opportunity Artist
"At times inspiring as hell, at other times aggravating in its indulgence and dilettantism; awesome in vision and frustrating in failing to explain more fully how this all works, how the money truly flows (is it just toys for rich people?) and the socioeconomic & political implications of what he's doing. A new model? True change? Or dependent on million-dollar art projects from the CTA? Read comment from LR, NYC, for example . . . "

Stop Undermining Encryption
Presidential panel says to NSA.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring:

The Pietasters, the Green Room Rockers, The C-Sides, Church of Misery, Lonnie Brooks, Starstruck, One Life, The Bret Michaels Band, and Steel Panther.

Northbrook Elves
In a holiday PSA.

Happy Canoe Year
New Year's Day Paddle on the Chicago River.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Passive investment.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:40 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bears Stinks

A lot of crap was written last week about how the Bears should consider using the franchise tag on Jay Cutler, thereby signing him to a contract that would pay him more than $16 million for the 2014 season alone. Come on! (And please believe me when I say I was saying that even before the debacle in Philly).

Questions abound about whether Cutler can stay healthy enough to lead a team to a championship and whether he is simply good enough to do so, and they have been out there way before the Bears embarrassed themselves 11-54 last night (I'm using the backwards score kind of the same way the military uses an upside down flag - to signal extreme distress).

Here's one element of his game that drives me nuts: His internal clock still isn't good enough. The Bear offensive line didn't have a good enough night last night but several of those sacks were Cutler's fault. He has to have a better idea of when he has run out of time, i.e., when he needs to just throw the ball away. His poor timing also leads to his taking more hits with more force.

Here's another: Cutler sucks on checkdowns. He almost never manages to get the ball to Matt Forte on underneath routes on time, i.e., by the time way too many of his passes get to Forte, the defense is all over him.

This is not to say that Cutler definitely isn't the Bears quarterback of the future. He may be, and as we pointed out last week, there are signs that he has improved his attitude at least a little this year. But if he won't agree to a reasonable contract that takes into account the fact that he would be lucky to have a chance to play for Marc Trestman next year, then Let. Him. Go.

If he is re-signed, he better prepare himself for the toughest off-season of his life. He has to get a lot better and he has to be in the best shape of his life going into next year.

Speaking of Forte, brutal effort on the safety. The guy swatted him on the knee and Forte went down as easy as a back can go down. More on the safety: it was OK that Trestman called a run with the Bears facing first-and-10 on their own three. It was not OK that everyone in the stadium knew the Bears were going to run the ball.

Trestman has obviously been coaching offense well forever but he could learn some things from Chip Kelly about designing more deceptive plays.

And back to Forte one final time: He might have had his worst night as a Bear in pass protection. His missed blocks led directly to several Eagle sacks and hurries.

There was a fascinating juxtaposition early in the game. Forte failed miserably to stand up to Eagle linebacker Trent Cole. Cole blew through him for an early sack. During the next Eagles possession, an Eagle back not only easily blocked Bear defensive end Shea McClellin, he guided him exactly where he wanted him to go, to the inside, opening a wide open lane to the outside for a double-digit Nick Foles run.

McClellin stinks at end. If the Bears don't move him to linebacker in the off-season, they will be putting his career in jeopardy.

At the other end of the Bears defensive line, might we be watching the final days of Julius Peppers in midnight blue and orange? He is not close to worth what he's being paid this season and he is scheduled to make even more next year. There needs to be some concrete reason to believe improvement is possible next year if the Bears are going to continue to allow for the massive hit his salary delivers against the cap. There is a joke to be made here about relative strengths of hits but I think I'll pass.

As for the rest of the defense, well, not only do the Bears need to find another linebacker or three in the off-season, they need to find some guys who can blitz. And that probably involves finding a better, run-defense supporting safety than they have had a long while. Even if Lance Briggs comes back for another go-round, and it seemed clear last night that even though he was rusty he was still the best Bear LB, he has never been a very good blitzer.

Bears fans found Sunday night's game infuriating. Hey Bears, did you? Do you think you might manage to put together a few angry practices this coming week and perhaps be a bit pissed off when you take the field against the Packers?

And hey Mr. Starting Quarterback, that starts with you.

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See also:
* Mitchell: Briggs' Return Fails To Save Bears Defense.

* Hoge: Bears Already Putting Philly Disaster Behind Them.

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And:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

The Safety Elves Of Northbrook

A UL moment.

This aired on local Chicago TV early Monday, December 18, 1978.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:29 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Pietasters at Reggies on Saturday night.


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2. The Green Room Rockers at the Double Door on Friday night.

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3. The C-Sides at Livewire on Friday night.

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4. Church of Misery at Township on Thursday night.

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5. Lonnie Brooks at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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6. Starstruck at the Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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7. One Life at the Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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8. The Bret Michaels Band at Mojoes in Joliet on Thursday night.

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9. Steel Panther at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

New Year's Day Canoe Paddle On The Chicago River!

UPDATE Dec. 31: The 2014 Happy Canoe Year Paddle down the North Branch of the Chicago River has been cancelled due to safety concerns stemming from portions of the river freezing over and becoming impassable.

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HAPPY CANOE YEAR!

Ring in the New Year with a paddling trip down the North Branch of the Chicago River.

On January 1, 2014, the Forest Preserves of Cook County will host the annual New Year's Day Canoe Paddle down the North Branch of the Chicago River. Experienced paddlers are invited to participate in this free tradition, which begins below the Skokie Lagoons and finishes approximately four miles south in Linne Woods

The New Year's Day Canoe Paddle is presented by the Forest Preserves in conjunction with the Illinois Paddling Council. The event has been an annual New Year's Day tradition since its founding in 1985 by Ralph Frese. In past years, more than 300 paddlers have participated.

Participants must bring their own boats and personal floatation devices and dress in clothing that retains warmth if wet (layering of wool or fleece and synthetic undergarments works best). All participants will be checked for proper clothing and equipment before launching.

Paddling any river in cold weather is inherently dangerous. This event is best suited to experienced paddlers and/or people with experience in cold-weather sports.

The trip begins at Willow Road, east of the Edens at Forestway Drive in Winnetka. Access to the boat launch is just below the Willow Road Dam. The trip ends at the Linne Woods Canoe Access a few hundred yards downstream from the horse bridge in Linne Woods. Linne Woods is located on Dempster Street at Ferris Ave., east of Lehigh Avenue in Morton Grove.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Boats launch between 9 and 11 a.m.

Participants should plan to drop their gear at the Willow Road Dam, then drive their cars to the Linne Woods finish point. Shuttle buses will provide transportation between the two locations from 8 a.m. to 2 pm.

Paddlers should allow 45 to 60 minutes for the bus shuttle and two to three hours for the paddle itself.

Participants are encouraged to bring non-alcoholic beverages, a complete change of warm clothes in a waterproof container, a cell phone waterproofed in a zip-lock freezer bag, and a hearty sense of humor.

For full event details, including a preparation checklist and river condition updates close to paddle day, paddlers can visit fpdcc.com/happy-canoe-year/ or call (708) 771-1010.

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Here's a guide to winter paddling.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

December 22, 2013

Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption

The National Security Agency should not undermine encryption standards that are designed to protect the privacy of communications, the panel of experts appointed by President Obama to review NSA surveillance recommended in a report released last week.

The recommendation, among the strongest of the many suggested changes laid out by the panel, comes several months after ProPublica, the Guardian, and the New York Times reported that the NSA has successfully worked to undercut encryption. The story was based on a set of documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Encryption technologies are supposed to render intercepted communications unreadable. But the NSA conducted what one secret memo described as an "aggressive, multipronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies."

The agency deliberately weakened international cryptographic standards used by developers around the globe and worked with American and foreign tech companies to introduce backdoors into commercial products.

The White House said Obama is reviewing the panel's recommendations, which are not binding, and will make a final decision by January.

The panel said the U.S. government should not "in any way subvert, undermine, weaken, or make vulnerable generally available commercial software."

The panel also recommended that an arm of the NSA whose mission is protecting information rather than spying be separated from the agency.

The Information Assurance Directorate is charged with building secure data and communications systems for the government and also works closely with industry and academia.

The review panel submitted its report to Obama on Friday and met with the president on Saturday. The White House said Obama would speak publicly in January to disclose the "outcomes of our work" including how he will address the review group's recommendations.

"Over the next several weeks, as we bring to a close the Administration's overall review of signals intelligence, the president will work with his national security team to study the Review Group's report, and to determine which recommendations we should implement," the White House said in a statement.

Formally known as the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, the panel was made up of five experts, including former deputy director of the CIA Michael Morrell, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, and longtime Obama confidant and current Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein.

The report was originally scheduled to be released this coming January. But in a surprise move, press Ssecretary Jay Carney announced it would be published [sooner] because of "inaccurate and incomplete reports in the press about the report's content."

The move also comes one day after a federal judge tore into the administration's defense of one NSA program.

Soon after the revelations about the NSA undermining in encryption, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a government agency that sets standards for various technologies, issued a statement "strongly" recommending against using one of its encryption standards. Secret documents described in our encryption story revealed the NSA's role in heavily influencing the standard in question. NIST is required by law to consult with the spy agency.

Citing the importance of trust and transparency in the development of encryption standards, NIST also later announced that it is reviewing all of its previous cryptographic recommendations as well as its process for development of future standards.

In a technical appendix report released today, the NSA actually detailed its role in the creation of various widely used encryption standards.

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Previously:
* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Citing NSA Concerns, EFF Resigns From Global Network Initiative.

* Government Standards Agency To Review Encryption Guidelines After Cryptographers Cry Foul Over NSA Meddling.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

December 21, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

As part of our ongoing effort to regain your trust, this Weekend Desk Report will be 10% shorter.

Market Update
Still can't find anything for that hard-to-shop-for relative? Just in time for the holidays, it turns out Money can buy you Love.

Shrinking Feeling
Sure does seem like things are getting better here in Chicago. As long as you narrow your focus to include only what already works.

Housecleaning
Maybe it's time to step up this piecemeal approach to shrinking the city by ceding the Southeast Side to Indiana. Oh wait, that's already happened.

Can't Pinch A Clinch
Could this be the weekend the division crown drops onto the Bears' scruffy heads? Or will the playoff picture remain hazy?

Un-Farrahble
Finally this week, how is Ryan Fucking O'Neal the last person standing here?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Angelic.

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The Beachwood Holiday Party Weekend Report: Thanks again to everybody who came out, it was great! We've got just a few photos on our Facebook page seeing as how there were fugitives, spies and people whose spouses believed they were somewhere else among us.

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The College Football Report: The College Football Report And The College Football Report Free Range Sacred Chicken Present The 2013-14 Bowl Season: Winners, Losers, Covers, Pushes, Overs, Unders, Best Dressed, Worst Buffet, Bowls You Didn't Know Existed, Bowls You Knew Existed But Had Forgotten, Most Obscure, Weirdest Sponsor, Best Destination, Worst Destination, Least Interesting, Best Match-Up, Awesomest Mascot, And The Debut Of The College Football Report Imaginary Bowl Game Series, Or The CFRIBGS As We Like To Call It.

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The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Smokin' Jay Cutler.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg celebrate the holidays 'Sound Opinions-style' . . . with a big dose of metal! They talk to founding members of the pioneering heavy metal band Slayer on the 30th anniversary of its debut album, Show No Mercy. Plus, they review new albums from Norah Jones & Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and Childish Gambino."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Mmm, cowboy omelette . . . now with cash machine.

flyingsaucerdec2113.jpg
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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

From the Wheelhouse: The Christmas Tree Ship

12-16-ChristmasShips.jpg

Capt. Mark Stevenson gives a behind-the-scenes look at the people and history behind the Christmas Tree Ship as volunteers and the Coast Guard unload its cargo in Chicago.

Saturday at 9 a.m. (and Wednesday at 3 p.m.) on CAN TV19.

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Food Purpose

12-16-FoodPurpose.jpg

Stay healthy during the holidays and learn how to prepare whole-food, plant-based, oil-free dishes with Chef Katie Simmons. Recipes include stuffed acorn squash and sweet potato casserole.

Saturday at 5 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation Annual Conference

This conference explores the challenges and opportunities facing the Latino community, including public policy analysis, Latino leaders' reflections, and community voices.

Unlocking the Latina Factor

12-16-Latinos-Keynote.jpg

Maria Wynne, who is retiring as the CEO of Girls Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana at the end of the year, delivers a keynote address, "Unlocking the Latina Factor."

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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The Affordable Care Act

12-16-Latinos-ACA.jpg

Health care experts discuss new opportunities for promoting health insurance in the Latino community made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

Sunday at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Leadership and Empowerment

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Jesse Ruiz, vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, joins this panel moderated by state Sen. Iris Martinez and state Rep. Cynthia Soto.

Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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From JFK To The Present

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Author Samuel Betances reflects on the legacy of JFK to the Present and how Hispanic influence in the U.S. translated into political power over time.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Town Hall Meeting

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Members of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus and the audience discuss the achievements of the past 11 years and weigh in on issues facing Latinos today.

Sunday at 3 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Steve Gadlin's Star Makers

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Host Steve Gadlin looks for "tomorrow's stars of Hollywood and/or Broadway" on this variety show including everything from ukulele playing to rhythmic clapping and dog tricks.

Sunday at 10 p.m. on CAN TV21.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:43 AM | Permalink

December 20, 2013

Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard

Ho ho ho.

santahohohoorigetcpolJPG.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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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.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:19 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Kanye West on the West Side on Wednesday night.


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2. Marrow at Schubas on Thursday night.

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3. 10,000 Light Years at the Double Door on Tuesday night.

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4. Star Of The Lid at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.

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5. The Wooten Brothers at Reggies on Tuesday night.

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6. The Atlantic at Reggies on Thursday night.

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7. Waitan at the Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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8. Bongripper at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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9. Pillage at Township on Monday night.

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10. DKV Trio at the Hideout on Tuesday night.

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11. Mingus Awareness Project at Martyrs' on Monday night.

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12. Through These Eyes at Mojoes in Joliet on Wednesday night.

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13. Paquito D'Rivera at Mayne State on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:18 PM | Permalink

Deadline? What Deadline? The Obamacare Sign-Up Dates Keep Moving

You aren't alone if you're confused about the deadline to sign up for coverage on the health insurance marketplaces. The deadline is - and has been - in flux.

When the process began in October, consumers using HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace for 36 states, had until Dec. 15 to pick a plan if they wanted coverage that begins Jan. 1. But because of the well-publicized glitches with the website, federal officials last month extended that deadline until Dec. 23.

Then, last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sought to delay another key deadline, the date by which consumers have to pay their first month's premium. As it stood, payments had to be received before coverage began (so, by Dec. 31), but HHS asked insurers to be flexible.

On Wednesday, health insurance companies obliged, extending the payment deadline to Jan. 10 instead of Jan. 1.

So where does this leave folks? It's still not totally clear.

HHS hinted last week that the enrollment deadline was still not set in stone: "We will consider moving this deadline to a later date should exceptional circumstances pose barriers to consumers enrolling on or before December 23." The department's fact sheet did not define "exceptional circumstances."

The confusion only builds. The federal government sets enrollment deadlines for the 36 states for which it handles sign-ups; the 14 state-based insurance marketplaces set their own deadlines. Read these couple paragraphs from a story by Jeffrey Young at the Huffington Post:

The final date to choose a health plan that will be in place on Jan. 1 is Dec. 23 in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Marylanders and Oregonians have until Dec. 27, although Oregon residents had only until Dec. 4 to file paper applications with the state exchange because online enrollment remains unavailable.

The deadline to pay January premiums is now Jan. 10 in the 36 states served by the federal exchanges and in Colorado and New York. Users of the exchanges in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Nevada have to pay by Dec. 23. The due date is Jan. 1 for Kentuckians, Jan. 6 for Rhode Islanders, Jan. 7 for Vermonters and Jan. 15 for Marylanders. In the District of Columbia, Aetna customers have until Jan. 8, while CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and Kaiser Permanente enrollees can pay up until Jan. 15. Hawaii and Oregon are still determining their respective payment deadlines.

Here's an excerpt from Wednesday's Seattle Times about Washington's deadlines:

Washington residents who have started but not finished their applications for insurance through the state's new health care exchange are getting a deadline reprieve, state officials announced Wednesday.

Anyone who begins an application before the previous deadline of Dec. 23, will get as much help as they need to finish and won't face a real deadline until Jan. 15, said Michael Marchand, spokesman for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

"The most important thing I want people to do is to take the action to get that application started. We can work with them at that point," Marchand said Wednesday.

All of those dates could still change, so if you are in need of coverage, it's best to ask questions early and often.

"There is massive confusion around deadlines," Mike Perry, co-founder of research firm PerryUndem, recently told the Washington Post. He has traveled the country doing focus groups with uninsured Americans this past month. "March comes up. January is prominent. But nobody seems to know the deadlines," Perry said.

If you don't need coverage that begins Jan. 1, you're in luck. The 2014 open enrollment period for the health insurance marketplaces runs through March 31, although your coverage generally won't begin until the month after you sign up. (Most consumers who go without insurance in 2014 will have to pay a penalty.)

In the next few days, as enrollment surges ahead of Monday's "deadline," we'll begin to understand the scope of the problem. Covered California on Wednesday said that 15,000 people a day are signing up for coverage; in New York, the figure is 4,500.

I've heard from a number of consumers this week saying that they had not yet received invoices from their insurance companies, and so they have been unable to pay their first month's premiums. Along the same lines, at a forum for health journalists last week, an official from the Community Service Society of New York said that she was told that three prominent insurance companies were only beginning to send out invoices to their enrollees.

As I reported last week, some insurers reported that only 5 percent to 15 percent of enrollees had paid their first month's premium.

If you're rushing to make a last-minute choice, check out WNYC's Procrastinator's Guide to Getting Insured. I am talking about various aspects of buying insurance each morning this week on WNYC. Also, see the tips offered by California consumer group Health Access.

And please let me know what your experience is like.

Editor's Note: This post is adapted from Ornstein'sHealthy buzz blog. Have you tried signing up for health care coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.

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Previously:
* Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

* How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare.

* Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare.

* Answered: Why Two Obama Loyalists Lost Their Health Policies.

* Health Care Delays Squeeze Patients In State High-Risk Pools.

* Coming In January: Obamacare Rate Shock Part Two.

* The Obamacare Deadline No One Is Talking About.

* The Obamacare Paper Pileup.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:43 PM | Permalink

The College Football Report And The College Football Report Free Range Sacred Chicken Present The 2013-14 Bowl Season

Winners, Losers, Covers, Pushes, Overs, Unders, Best Dressed, Worst Buffet, Bowls You Didn't Know Existed, Bowls You Knew Existed But Had Forgotten, Most Obscure, Weirdest Sponsor, Best Destination, Worst Destination, Least Interesting, Best Match-Up, Awesomest Mascot, And The Debut Of The College Football Report Imaginary Bowl Game Series, Or The CFRIBGS As We Like To Call It.

Brace yourself. There are more than 30 bowls this year. To spare you, and to pace ourselves, we will space out the preview across several columns in the coming weeks. This edition covers the first round of games in what we're calling Bowl Preview Week One, which, if awards were handed out to college football columns, would run away with Most Obligatory.

As an added bonus this year, we are including the forecast and a predicted final score for each game. That's what we in the business call "added value."

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
WINNER: MOST OBSCURE
Time: Saturday, December 21, 2 p.m., ESPN (University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM)
Teams: Colorado State Rams vs. Washington State Cougars (-4.5)
Forecast: Football weather

Comment: What you need to know about the Gildan New Mexico Bowl:

* The game takes place in University Stadium. Which is on the campus of a university.
* New Mexico is not a thriving sports market: the Gildan is the only nationally televised sporting event in the state.
* The 2013 result probably won't threaten the record for total points scored: 97 in Nevada vs. Arizona in 2012.
* The trophy looks pretty weird, but the MVP awards (tambourine-ish leather shields) are even stranger.
* A husband-wife team from the Zia Pueblo crafted the ceramic trophy, embellishing decorative tribal images with crude images of football players and, naturally, the bowl's logo.
* Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain, on qualifying for a bowl: "There is a certain aura that goes around about being a bowl team and there is a certain club now, you can walk in the back alley and knock on the door and you have the secret code to get in."
* No word at press time of the secret code. Our guess? "Bugs Bunny."

CFR Pick: Over 65.5, like way over.
Sacred Chicken Proprietary Final Score Prophesy (SCPFSP): Colorado State 66, Washington State 14

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Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
WINNER: BEST DRESSED (goes to the USC "Song Girls")
NOMINEE: WEIRDEST SPONSOR
Time: Saturday, December 21, 3:30 p.m., ABC (Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV)
Teams: #25 Southern California Trojans (-6.5) vs. #20 Fresno State Bulldogs
Forecast: Vaguely depressing, with a chance of ennui

Comment: We doubt either team set their sights on the Las Vegas Bowl when the season kicked off. The Las Vegas would earn a nomination for Best Match-Up if we felt either team cared about the outcome. USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton will serve as interim head coach for the game following the resignation of the prior interim coach, Ed Orgeron. USC offered the head coaching position to former Washington lead man Steve Sarkisian, prompting Orgeron to quit, understandably, in a huff. Coach "O" managed a 6-2 record while at the helm and earned the love of the players, putting Helton in a thankless position - win, and you have met expectations, lose and you have only helped the detractors who backed Orgeron.

Fresno can't feel good about getting the Vegas bowl invite either. The Bulldogs were poised to bust the BCS until you-know-what'ing the bed in a 62-52 loss against San Jose State on November 29. With that loss, Fresno dropped out of the Top 16 in the BCS rankings and forfeited the BCS bid. While Fresno fields the nation's top passer - QB Derek Carr posted 4,866 yards and a ridiculous 48 TDs - the USC defense is among the top (16th) in the country.

Casual fans should tune in as, despite its random nature, this one has a chance to be among the best non-BCS bowls of the season.

What about the sponsor, you ask? Never heard of Royal Purple, as in Royal Purple High Performance Lubricants? You know, "the performance oil that outperforms®"? Makers of such products as Max EZ, Max-Boost, and Ultra Performance Grease, and a suite of other goods that sound better suited to Sybaris than Jiffy Lube? (Speaking of which, "Jiffy Lube" . . . ?)

Royal Purple, knowingly or not, borrows the brand name from "Tryian Purple", a reddish-purple dye first used by the Phoenicians nearly 4,000 years ago. At some point in ancient history, someone with too much spare time noticed that a local mollusk secreted inky, purplish mucus when disturbed. This genius figured that if the dye could be produced in mass quantities, it could turn a blah everyday toga into a pretty snazzy garment. Unfortunately for the snails, about 10,000 of the critters had to be ground up to produce a single gram of Tyrian purple. The dye became a hot commodity in the ancient world, popular with elites across the Mediterranean, beginning with early trading partners like the Greeks, and eventually becoming the color du jour of Roman emperors.

So when someone asks you about the Fresno-USC game next week, you can reply: "Oh, you mean the Rock Snail Mucus Bowl?"

CFR Pick: USC to win, Fresno to cover
SCPFSP: Fresno State 27, Southern California 6

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Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
NOMINEE: WORST DESTINATION
Time: Saturday, December 21, 5:30 p.m. ESPN (Bronco Stadium, Boise, ID)
Teams: Buffalo Bulls vs. San Diego State Aztecs (PK)
Forecast: Nippy, mostly blue

Comment: Buffalo (8-4, 6-2 MAC) dodged conference powers Northern Illinois and Ball State en route to bowl eligibility, only the second postseason trip in the school's history. In his fourth season, Bulls head coach Jeff Quinn guided the team to an eight-win season only a year removed from a 4-8 record. San Diego (7-5, 6-2 MW) enters the game on a hot streak, winning seven of the last eight after a dismal 0-3 start to the season.

The Aztecs should expect to see a lot of Buffalo running back Branden Oliver. The senior broke his own record for single-season yards in 2013, rushing for 1,421 behind an offensive line that San Diego coach Rocky Long describes as "gigantic." Long figures the Bulls O-line outweighs (!) that of Aztecs opponent Ohio State: the starters measure 6'4" and up and 314 pounds on average. Those are some big boys. Bulls, indeed.

The Potato Bowl takes place on the famous blue turf of Bronco Stadium, the regular-season home of Boise State. Boise installed a blue field in 1986 during a redesign of the previous (green) AstroTurf. The surface has undergone a number of changes in the interim, most recently in 2010 when current provider FieldTurf replaced the field for free after years of complaints by fans, not for the obnoxious color, but because of the high glare kicked up by "light-reflecting fibers."

Reactions at the time ranged from the nonplussed (Quarterback Joe Southwick when interviewed in 2010: "It looks bluer, but I'm not exactly a turf expert.") to the quasi-scientific (such as this comment on a fan message board: "Also . . . air molecules are good at scattering blue wavelengths which is why the sky is blue."), but there's no mistaking the Smurf Turf: it was the first colored (i.e. non-green) playing surface in football history and the only one in use among all FBS teams.

In other words, there's no chance of mistaking the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for any of the other assorted games on Saturday. Just have a pair of sunglasses handy.

CFR Pick: Buffalo
SCPFSP: Buffalo 10, San Diego State 30

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R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
NOMINEE: BEST DESTINATION
Time: Saturday, December 21, 9 p.m. ESPN (Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA)
Teams: Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns vs. Tulane Green Wave (-2.5)
Forecast: That weird smell of recycled air and accompanying aroma of up to 73,208 (official capacity of the Superdome) football fans, nacho cheese dip, spilled beer, and lukewarm hotdogs.

Comment: Has history tainted any other venue like the Superdome? Other sites will always carry the memory of momentous, tragic disasters but we can't imagine a single building with a history that will demand mention during every major broadcast. The images from Katrina and the stories from residents sheltering in the Superdome won't fade from collective memory soon, if ever. We only hope ESPN marks the event with a tasteful, yet brief acknowledgement: we don't need footage with an overwrought voice-over.

In happier news, the bowl will host a free concert on Friday night to kick off the festivities featuring Travis Tritt and the Charlie Daniels Band. We assume the two will perform their 2003 duet "Southern Boy," which originally appeared on Daniels' 2003 album Redneck Fiddlin' Man. For the unfamiliar, you only need go so far as "Long Haired Country Boy" or "(What This World Needs Is) A Few More Rednecks" to get a flavor of the Charlie Daniels Band. As for Tritt, we feel he owes the crowd a few tunes from his 1992 album A Travis Tritt Christmas: Loving Time of the Year such as "Christmas Just Ain't Christmas Without You" or "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy".

As for the game, someone posted a list of not-so-fun-facts to get you oriented or you can just read the next four sentences: the Cajuns lost the final game of the year to South Alabama to split the Sun Belt conference championship, but starting QB Terrance Broadway (who sat out the game with broken arm) should return for the bowl. Louisiana-Lafayette won the New Orleans Bowl in 2011 and 2012 and, if Broadway returns, Louisiana will likely repeat against one of the worst offenses in the country. (Tulane averages 304 yards per game, placing them at 119th in the FBS.) That said, Tulane does take care of the ball, and the Cajuns can get turnover-happy, having coughed up the ball 10 times in the final five games, which could give the Green Wave the edge in a tight game.

Bonus: Players will score pretty sweet Fossil watches for playing in the game and the TV audience will have the opportunity to score some pretty sweet R+L swag as well.

CFR Pick: Tulane by 4
SCFSP: Louisiana Lafayette 30, Tulane 23

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Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl
NOMINEE: LEAST INTERESTING
Time: Monday, December 23, 2 p.m. ESPN (Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL)
Teams: Ohio Bobcats vs. East Carolina Pirates (-13.5)
Forecast: Beefy, with a hint of citrus

Comment: Regardless of the teams, the St. Petersburg Bowl is among our favorites every year. For starters, it's played in St. Petersburg. Also, it's sponsored by Beef 'O' Brady's, so now it's called the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, which is even better. Plus, St. Petersburg is in Florida. Finally, it's entirely owned by ESPN Regional Television (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN, so it's guaranteed to be a completely manufactured, irrelevant game produced to sell airtime to advertisers and corporate sponsors. Add all that up, and you've got the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl.

* Note: there is some confusion regarding the name. The bowl's website also refers to the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl as the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg. We like the latter. It makes so much more sense.

CFR Pick: East Carolina
SCFSP: Ohio 28, East Carolina 68

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:41 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

A big thanks to everyone who turned out for our holiday party last night. I'm pretty sure a good time was had by all, and next year we'll try to get Schlitz to officially sponsor us given how much of their product we drank.

We also had reason to toast our poet-in-residence J.J. Tindall on his write-up from Rick Kogan for the Trib's Printers Row Journal.

Copies of Ballots From The Dead still available!

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Once again, I have to ask: Is there a better college football writer in the country than our very own Mike Luce? Even if you have no interest in college football, you'll enjoy reading his stuff. The full title of this week's installment:

The College Football Report and The College Football Report Free Range Sacred Chicken Present The 2013-14 Bowl Season: Winners, Losers, Covers, Pushes, Overs, Unders, Best Dressed, Worst Buffet, Bowls You Didn't Know Existed, Bowls You Knew Existed But Had Forgotten, Most Obscure, Weirdest Sponsor, Best Destination, Worst Destination, Least Interesting, Best Match-Up, Awesomest Mascot, and the debut of the College Football Report Imaginary Bowl Game Series, or the CFRIBGS as we like to call it.

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I'm a huge fan of ProPublica and one of their innovations is to not only allow but to encourage other sites to "steal" their work through a simple republishing button. I've been proud to offer a lot of their work - the gold standard in digital investigative reporting - particularly given the relative dearth of coverage of the most important stories of our time in the rest of the local media, including Obama's drone war and the NSA scandal.

Today we have an Obamacare update: Sign-Up Deadlines Keep Moving, Confusion Grows.

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Kanye West might be mad, but he's not dumb, and just might be brilliant. On Wednesday night he unleashed "We Should Have Never, Ever Let Michael Jordan Play For The Wizards" on a hometown crowd at the big West Side arena (you know the one; I don't believe in giving free advertising to companies who buy naming rights as a way to, in part, sneak their brand into news stories).

West's musical diatribe put him on top of today's The Week In Chicago Rock.

Other artists featured: Marrow, 10,000 Light Years, Star Of The Lid, The Wooten Brothers, The Atlantic, Waitan, Bongripper, Pillage, DKV Trio, Mingo Awareness Project, Through These Eyes, and Paquito D'Rivera.

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We'll have party photos soon from Beachwood Photo Booth photographer Helene Smith. For now, we have this week's featured photo: A Chicago Christmas Postcard, straight outta Jefferson Park.

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That's all for today, Natasha Julius will be back tomorrow with The Weekend Desk Report and we'll maintain some level of posting through the holidays.

Finally, if you're so inclined, we'll make one more appeal for 2013. To those who have already supported us through the years, we are grateful.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Operator sitting by.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:29 PM | Permalink

December 19, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

1. SunTimesEpicFail.com.

2. Rita Law Not To Be Confused With Rose Laws.

3. Jennifer Hudson Has Never Had An Alcoholic Drink.

4. Here Comes The Story Of Barrett Brown.

5. 2013 Second-Worst Year On Record For Jailed Journalists.

6. The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Smokin' Jay Cutler.

7. The Onion Year In Review.

8. Elmer Scheid: Chicago Waltz.

9. Rockabilly Swing At The California Clipper.

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10. Former Ald. Burt Natarus Sings At The Hideout.

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11. Christmas Tree Balloon.

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12. Brent Seabrook Green Jersey.

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13. Roelly "The Beast" Winklaar: 2013 Chicago Pro Champion.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ewww!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 AM | Permalink

The Onion Year In Review

Gorilla sales skyrocketed following the latest gorilla attack, Nelson Mandela became the first politician to be missed, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage saying "Sure, who cares?" The Onion looks back at the news stories that shaped 2013.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Smokin' Jay Cutler

Sunday's game was supposed to provide a payoff to the stupidest debate since caveman Oog tried to convince caveman Drak that poison berries were a more effective method of hunting dinosaur than rolling a massive boulder on to the beast.

Both options were tried, the T-Rex lived and the village was still devoured by raptors in the last week of the hunting season. So who was right? The guy with the boulder.

You go with the best weapons available and let the Triceratops chips fall where they may.

Drak cares not for berries! As true now as it was 4,900 years ago.

For those of you not able to pierce my vague innuendo, we're examining Jay Cutler's return to the starting lineup and more importantly the perception of the quarterback position coming out of the Browns game.

Going in, many felt the Bears should have ridden the hot, steady, Norse-looking hand.

Others prefer a signal-caller who has roughly the same reaction to school shootings as he does to accidentally pouring skim milk onto his cereal.

I haven't talked to anyone since Sunday who was in favor of Cutler or McCown who changed their mind, though I maintain that the 17 replays of Cutler's two interceptions provided by Fox might have had something to do with that.

All the same, it merits a follow-up. Let's examine QB1 and QB1(a).

Cutler: Despite rust, threw three TDs and had a passer rating over 100 versus Cleveland.

McCown: Threw zero INTs and kept teammates warm inside his cloak of fur and humility.

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Cutler: Credited publicly by the offensive line for seeking their counsel before returning from injury.

McCown: Credited publicly by the offensive line for releasing the ball in under 6 seconds.

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Cutler: Shrugged in disinterest when someone informed him that a website dedicated to photo-shopping cigarettes onto his likeness may have generated a six=figure revenue in 2013.

McCown: Made $76,000 selling T-shirts for Smokin' Jay Cutler.

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Cutler: Youngish, big upside, less predictable and a steep price tag.

McCown: Looks like old Dolf Lundgren, even when compared to present-day Dolf Lundgren, but the good news is that at 35-years-old, he costs less than Dolf Lundgren.

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Cutler: Found that heaving the ball skyward in the general direction of Alshon Jeffery leads to points.

McCown: Generously told Jay that the secret to his success was heaving the ball in the general direction of Jeffery. To prove it, McCown brought Cutler to Blackjack's Gentlemen's Club, where he tossed a Nerf Turbo at the stage while local favorite Faksimile was grinding out her daddy frustrations to The Cult's "Fire Woman." Before that thing could hit the ground, Alshon Jeffery flew out of nowhere to haul in the pass*.

So who's the right fit?

When the Bears are competing against the Detroit Lions for an opportunity to lose in the first round of the playoffs, anyone is!

Just kidding, that's a cop-out.

It's Cutler. It was always Cutler. There's no incentive to attempt a playoff push with anybody but Cutler, barring injury.

He's the Bears' No. 1 quarterback because he's a No. 1 quarterback. Maybe eight other teams in the league have a better option. Hell, he might be the closer for the Sox next year.

McCown is the clear starter on the Browns, Jags, Jets and Vikings . . . and also probably the Sox. I have no idea what their game plan for catcher is in 2014.

Flexible
Next up on the agenda is playing football against the Eagles in a (gasp) possible first-round playoff preview. Not joking.

As such, the game has been "flexed" to Sunday night, which means that a whole new audience of people assuming that the Steelers or Patriots are on will be introduced to the Eagles.

In fact, I'll be introduced to the Eagles.

Somehow I've gone the whole season without seeing Nick Foles, a quarterback whose official photo looks like somebody used Microsoft's "Paint" to impose a picture of their nephew's head onto a fake Sports Illustrated cover with the headline "I Get A Real A Kick Out Of My Nephew Stanley." I was expecting a black guy in a Kevlar vest.

Yes, I thought R. Kelly circa 1993 was starting for Philly.

Turns out he's not, which is a relief because the last thing we need is for Mr. Bump N' Grind to have a big game against the Bears and start a mass debate regarding whether to re-sign Josh McCown or clear cap space to get R. Kelly un-trapped from the closet and into a Bears uniform.

Kool-Aid (5 Out Of Five Glasses Of Fish House Punch)
The Bears have played their way back into the realm of the interesting. A win, coupled with losses by the Lions and Packers = playoffs.

As mentioned above, there's also a legitimate chance that both the Bears and Eagles win their divisions, which could match up the two horribly flawed teams in the first round. So a win this week could essentially catapult Chicago into a winnable first-round match-up.

Or the Bears could be ripped to shreds by any other contender in the first round.

Until then, enjoy the slog to the finish!

Drinking Game Of The Week: Pound a beer every time Cris Collinsworth says something that indicates he's shaking his head in disbelief; why aren't the Eagles running more, how could Jay Cutler throw that ball, this kind of tackling is enough to make a coach pull his hair out, and so on.

The Bears defense is not good, but it can create turnovers. I think Foles hits a rough patch and Tim Jennings has a big day against the diminutive DeSean Jackson.

Offense abounds, Bears win in a shootout.

Bears 35
Eagles 33

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*To be fair, Faksimilie was playing a deep cover 2 shell and it's difficult to take a good line to the receiver when your tits keep hitting you in the face.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

Here Comes The Story Of Barrett Brown

A song for jailed American journalist Barrett Brown, to the tune of "Hurricane" by Bob Dylan. Please help Barrett's legal defense if you are able. In doing so you will be positively affecting the outcome of an important case. #RightToLink


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See also: Leamington Books' YouTube page.

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Democracy Now! report on Barrett Brown from July.

"Journalist Barrett Brown spent his 300th day behind bars this week on a range of charges filed after he used information obtained by the hacker group Anonymous to report on the operations of private intelligence firms.

"Brown faces 17 charges ranging from threatening an FBI agent to credit card fraud for posting a link online to a document that contained stolen credit card data.

"But according to his supporters, Brown is being unfairly targeted for daring to investigate the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors.

"Using information Anonymous took from the firm HBGary Federal, Brown helped discover a secret plan to tarnish the reputations of WikiLeaks and journalist Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian.

"Brown similarly analyzed and wrote about the millions of internal company e-mails from Stratfor Global Intelligence that were leaked in 2011.

"We speak to Peter Ludlow, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, whose article 'The Strange Case of Barrett Brown' recently appeared in The Nation.

"'Considering that the person who carried out the actual Stratfor hack had several priors and is facing a maximum of 10 years, the inescapable conclusion is that the problem is not with the hack itself but with Brown's journalism,' Ludlow argues. He adds that the case against Brown could suggest criminality 'to even link to something or share a link with somebody.'"

Pt. 1.

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Pt. 2.

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Number of times Barrett Brown's name has appeared in the Sun-Times: 0.

Number of times Barrett Brown's name has appeared in the Tribune: 1.

(And it wasn't about his case.)

Number of times Barrett Brown's name has appeared in the Reader: 0.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

December 18, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Three years ago, after learning that numerous police departments were failing to take a basic first investigative step and analyze DNA evidence from reported sex crimes, Illinois became the first state to mandate testing, even in older cases in which rape kits had sat untested for years," the Tribune reports. "Advocates called the sweeping law 'landmark.'

"As of last month, the Illinois State Police had completed analysis in all of the 4,000 reported rape cases in which DNA evidence had previously gone untested, a massive undertaking that required federal grants to pay for outsourcing the work and included one case dating back more than three decades.

"Of the 4,000 profiles, 927 were matched in the national DNA database, providing a potential key lead in cases that might be stalled."

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"The issue of untested evidence came to light after a Tribune report in 2009 documented how many rape kits were being shelved at local departments, reducing the chances to solve cases.

"The Tribune's review found that in a two-year period, large suburban departments had stored untested rape kits from nearly 100 alleged victims of sex crimes . . . In addition, the state crime lab sometimes refused to analyze kits, the newspaper review found."

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From that report:

"By allowing a nurse to secure semen, saliva and other potential DNA samples - an invasive exam that can take up to eight hours - these Chicago-area residents provided police with potentially valuable forensic evidence," the paper reported four years ago. "DNA testing of rape kits has identified sexual offenders, linking some predators to numerous attacks.

"But in these and nearly 100 other sexual assault allegations handled over the last two years by some of the largest suburban Chicago police departments, including Naperville, Evanston and Aurora, police never had the kits tested, according to records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Most of the 13 law enforcement agencies reviewed by the Tribune don't require that every kit be tested -- a notable exception being the Chicago Police Department.

"In fact, some departments have placed most of the kits in storage, according to the newspaper's review, a finding that prompted outrage from victims advocates and the offices of Cook County State's Atty. Anita Alvarez and Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan."

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One month prior, the Trib had reported that "The number of DNA samples from rapes and other serious offenses that sit untested at the Illinois crime lab for more than 30 days remains alarmingly high four years after former Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared the problem had been eliminated."

CPS Moving, Shaking
"Facing steep fiscal challenges, Chicago Public Schools plans to downsize central office operations by next fall," the Tribune reports.

Here we go again.

"The district is considering moving its downtown offices, at 125 S. Clark St., a few blocks away, to 1 N. Dearborn St., the site of the current Sears flagship shop, according to a CPS official."

Why not sell naming rights, then - and not just for the building. The Sears Board of Education Sale - 50 Schools 50% Off!

I'm just not sure which institution would be more embarrassed to be associated with the other.

"Members of Chicago's Board of Education will consider the lease in closed session during the district's monthly board meeting Wednesday. They will then vote on authorizing the signing of the lease, the official said."

Maybe the board could save money by not having fake meetings in order to hold fake votes.

"District officials say they hope the move will ultimately save the district $60 million over 15 years."

By current CPS math, that means the move will ultimately cost taxpayers $90 million.

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From the Trib, 1998:

In other board matters, the renovation of its new headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. has run $7 million over its $19 million budget, a 38 percent increase, because the board has installed a $3.5 million emergency generator and made technological upgrades.

Board officials denied that bad management caused the increase.

"It would be wrong to say the CPS office (renovation) affects the capital-improvement program in the schools," said chief operating officer Tim Martin.

"It's not bad planning," said board President Gery Chico. "In life, you don't get anything in neat packages."

Except the money a lot of adults make off of CPS.

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"Chicago's board of education will consider yet another significant increase in what it is paying to empty out Chicago's closed school buildings," Linda Lutton reports for WBEZ.

"In September, the district quietly doubled the amount of the contract, to $18.9 million. Chicago Public Schools' closing czar said the reason for the overrun had to do with the volume of stuff movers found in the 43 shuttered buildings they are emptying out.

"Now, the agenda for Wednesday's school board meeting shows the board will vote on another increase, this time to $30.9 million, more than tripling the amount of the original contract with GWS.

"A CPS document says the hike is necessary to board up, fence, and install security posts around 30 buildings."

So GWS underestimated how much stuff they'd have to move by $10 million and then forgot to estimate the cost of boarding up the schools they were emptying out, which they say will cost $11.1 million - more than the original bid for the entire job.

See also: "That's more than an underestimate, it's moving malpractice," in The [Friday] Papers.

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The NSA Is Coming To Town
You better watch out,
You better not Skype,
You better log out,
Yeah, you better not type.

'Twas A Bloodshot Christmas
Based on a complete fabrication.

Trend Forecast 2014
March Economic Madness, Global Chinatowns & Trouble in Slavelandia.

Fantasy Fix: Charles In Charge
But Forte coming up the backstretch.

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From Our Facebook Page
* Merkel Compares NSA To Stasi In Heated Encounter With Obama.

* Limbs 50% Longer.

* Dial-A-Carol A Holiday Tradition At U of Illinois.

* Was Sammy Sosa Really All That Great?

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BeachTweets

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Scratch that itch.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:54 AM | Permalink

The NSA Is Coming To Town

You better watch out,
You better not Skype,
You better log out,
Yeah, you better not type,
The NSA is coming to town.


You're making a list,
They're checking it twice;
They're watching almost every electronic device,
The NSA is coming to town.

They see you when you're sleeping
They hear while you're awake
They know who you call and who you write
So encrypt for goodness' sake!

With Congress in the dark and a cloak-and-dagger court
We're lookin' for answers, they're comin' up short
The NSA is coming to town.

They're making a list,
Checking it twice;
They're watching almost every electronic device,
NSA is coming to town
The NSA is coming to town,
The NSA is coming to town.

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Don't Let The NSA Spy On Your Holiday Moments.

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Previously:
* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

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

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

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

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

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

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

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

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

Top Ten Trends 2014: A Year Of Extremes!

In 33 years of forecasting trends, the Trends Research Institute has never seen such a new year that will witness severe economic hardship and social unrest on one hand, and deep philosophic enlightenment and personal enrichment on the other. A series of dynamic socioeconomic and transformative geopolitical trend points are aligning in 2014 to ring in the worst and best of times.

Ready or not, here they come.

March Economic Madness: One of the most difficult aspects of trend forecasting is getting the timing right. And when it comes to economics, there are many wildcards that can stall or detour any onrushing trend. We called the Crash of '87, the 1997 Asian Currency Crisis and the Panic of '08 (we even established the domain name in 2007) right on the button. But we missed the mark with our Crash of 2010 prediction.

Why? The Federal Reserve and central banks around the world were secretly pumping tens of trillions of dollars into a failing financial system. These were, at the time, unimagined schemes for nations that pride themselves on capitalism. And while we are not naive to the dirty dealings of the financial industry, rigging the daily multitrillion dollar LIBOR and FOREX markets was not on our radar. Thus, what we believed to be economic truths and hard facts were, in fact, cover-ups and lies.

Such unforeseeable factors aside, we forecast that around March, or by the end of the second quarter of 2014, an economic shock wave will rattle the world equity markets. What will cause this econo-shock? How can you prepare for it? It's a Top Trend of 2014.

Global Chinatowns: Name the continent or pick a country, every one contains its own brand of Chinatown. The Chinese global buying binge, now in its early growth stage, will noticeably accelerate in 2014. From coal mines in Zambia, to Borscht Belt resorts in New York, to factories in Italy, and to farmlands in Ukraine, a seemingly endless variety of Chinese development projects are being incubated around the world. If there is a deal to be had and a need to be filled, Chinese players are increasingly at the front of the line.

Wealthy investors, college graduates without jobs, skilled and unskilled laborers will be migrating out of their overpopulated, congested and highly polluted nation to foreign shores. Where are the new growth areas? What actions will be taken to stop or control the trend? Who will benefit? Who will lose? And what are the dangers and opportunities?

Wake Up Call: Last year we forecast the Great Awakening 2.0, a period reminiscent of the first Great Awakening that provided the intellectual, philosophical and spiritual ammunition that ignited the American Revolution. The "Awakening" has begun. Throughout 2014, and beyond, you will hear the Wake Up Call. It will be loud and distinct.

In 2013, the White House and Congress proved their extreme incompetence with a series of public failures. From closing down the government, to the debt ceiling debacle, to the aborted attack on Syria and, ultimately, to the disastrous launch of Obamacare, the ineptness of our political leaders was overwhelming. As polls show, a majority of citizens registered levels of scorn and ridicule unparalleled in modern America.

But this phenomenon is not limited to America. Around the world, citizen distrust has turned into universal disdain for entrenched political parties whose draconian austerity measures and punishing economic policies have thrown millions into poverty and pushed millions of protesters into the streets. Civil wars, civil unrest, revolts and revolutions will be just some of the cards dealt by an angry public that has lost everything and has nothing left to lose.

Will those in power hear the Wake Up Call? Or will they attempt to stamp it down and drown it out? Hear it or not, the movement is unstoppable. It will be a battle of the classes. What will it mean? Where will it take the biggest toll? Can the protests and disturbances of tomorrow bring peace and enlightenment that will lead to the Great Awakening 2.0?

Seniors Own Social Media: Seniors now comprise the fastest-growing user segment of the social media world, and the year ahead will see the retail, business, political, health and entertainment industries evolve aggressive strategies to realize the robust economic potential in engaging seniors.

The gamut of possibilities is so grand that we forecast technological and product advances that impact everything from nursing home life to political campaigns and causes.

Populism: Regardless of how professional politicians deride it or how the traditional media describe it, "populism" is a megatrend sweeping Europe, and it will soon spread across the globe. Mired in prolonged recession, disgusted with corrupt political parties, and forced to follow EU, ECB and IMF austerity dictates, populist movements are seeking to regain national identity and break free from the euro and Brussels domination. These movements are positioned to bring down ruling parties and build up new ones.

The discontent of the one-size-fits-all Euro Union formula is so deep that populists are expected to gain some 25 percent of the European Parliament seats in next year's elections. "We have the big risk to have the most 'anti-European' European Parliament ever," cried Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta. "The rise of populism is today the main European social and political issue. To fight against populism, in my view, is a mission today - in Italy and in the other countries."

Already, some nations, such as Spain, have passed new laws restricting public demonstrations while imposing police-state measures to stamp out dissent. What is the future of populism? How far will it spread? Will it lead to the formation of new parties, or lead to civil wars?

Trouble in Slavelandia: Even as total U.S. personal wealth soars above a record high of $77 trillion, fueled by the stock market's own record highs, life for the growing number of have-nots in Slavelandia has become more desperate. In today's Plantation Economy - driven by the bottom line needs of multinationals and flailing austerity-prone governments - low-paying service jobs and reduced hours engineered to evade corporate responsibility to provide benefits, are making it tough for the working poor, a group that now includes debt-burdened and underemployed college graduates and seniors as well as the traditional underclass.

Nearly half of the requests for emergency assistance to stave off hunger or homelessness comes from people with full-time jobs. As government safety nets are pulled out from under them - as they will continue to be for the foreseeable future - the citizens of Slavelandia will have no recourse but action. The fast-food worker strikes of 2013, seeking a higher minimum wage, were just a mild taste of what is to come.

The New Altruism: Several burgeoning trends identified for 2014 will coalesce in a welcome trend toward selfless concern for the well-being of others and an interest in the common good. Across the age divide, from people in their youth to those of advanced years, the search for meaning will intensify and become more widespread in response to waning resources, want, and an over-commodified culture. As despair quietly takes more prisoners, Doing Good will be recognized as the key to escape.

Ironically, the Internet that has been much maligned for currying narcissism will make the donation of money, time and talents so easy that people will be able to enact their better natures without resistance. Be they Boomers in renaissance or populists in revolt, people will discover and expand the humanist side of globalism and act accordingly.

Private Health Goes Public: While the world focused on the blockbuster NSA surveillance revelations and other cyber-snooping episodes of 2013, another powerful trend line was firmly planted: Your health data has been progressively mined, assembled and made accessible to a widening group of interested parties.

While signing up for the Affordable Care Act brought some attention to this developing trend, around the globe, data on individuals' health status, behaviors, prescriptions and even their genetic indicators have been funneled to a wide range of databases. Those databases have many purposes and a growing number of hands on them.

The positive and negative implications of this trend are equally powerful. Individuals and their health care providers can more easily tie vital physical data with worldwide medical databases to anticipate and potentially prevent disease. But, in the wrong hands, the data can be used to exploit, damage and take advantage of individuals and their families. Security concerns will rise in equal importance with the potential benefits of this critical trend line. What does this mean for you, your family, or your business?

Boomer Renaissance Arrives: Distinct and strengthening economic, lifestyle and societal determinants are building a creative foundation for the older population as it discovers new approaches to work and finds long-elusive contentment in the process.

You already know that older workers, seeing their retirement plans shattered, have to work beyond traditional retirement years. You also know that those same economic dynamics are forcing aging Boomers to entirely rethink retirement. And, of course, you know that as Boomers are living longer, traditional thinking about retirement has been stood on its head. What you might not realize is how these factors are compelling Boomers to unearth potent creative energies not only to survive, but to realize potential that evaded them in traditional work roles.

In 2014, we will see growing evidence of this Boomer Renaissance, accentuated by waves of self-guided entrepreneurialism that alchemizes commerce, survival and self-actualization into a new world and self view.

Digital Learning Explodes: Fears that online educational platforms fall short of providing depth and effectiveness in the learning experience will all but disappear. Across the entire educational spectrum, online learning will expand to include not only course instruction, but also a wealth of real-life learning experience, with considerable participation by the skills-hungry business community.

For individuals, educational institutions, industries, small businesses and up-and-coming entrepreneurs, the implications are enormous. From traditional degree-based education to very specific micro skills-based learning, this trend line explodes.

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Previously:
* Collapse: It's Coming! Are You Ready?

* The Shocking Megatrend Being Seriously Discussed At The Highest Levels Of Government.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

'Twas A Bloodshot Christmas

Now Biram, now Andre, now Hancock and Robbie; oh Cory, on Loveless, on JC and Bobby - Bare Jr. he meant.

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Based on a complete fabrication.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Charles In Charge

If you have Jamaal Charles on your fantasy team, it's a good bet that you not only made the playoffs, but will be playing for a fantasy league championship this weekend or next.

In the last four weeks, Charles has gone from very good to simply dominant, logging two 100 yards-plus rushing games, and just last week an historic fantasy performance: 5 TDs (four of them receiving) and 195 yards receiving.

In Week 16, Charles gets to face an Indianapolis defense that has fallen into the bottom half of league defenses is the second half of the season.

With another big stat line this week, Charles will make a pretty good argument to be the No. 1 overall fantasy pick next year. In fact, with this posting serving as the final Fantasy Fix football column until next season, it's a good time to take a peek at my 2014 preseason top five (all subject to change until next summer, of course):

1. Jamaal Charles: I've been going back and forth on this and for awhile was considering Peyton Manning for the No.1 slot, but Charles is a dual threat and particularly potent in PPR leagues.

2. LeSean McCoy: Like Charles, another back with a system that showcases everything he can do. McCoy is probably also my comeback player of the year after his terrible 2012 outing.

3. Peyton Manning: His numbers have been a little blemished in recent weeks, but he'll probably reach both 5,000 passing yards and 50 TDs this week with one more game still left. This is probably the highest I have ever ranked a QB pre-draft.

4. Matt Forte: He's quietly having his best season, with the same essential skill set as Charles and McCoy, with more rushing yards than Charles and more receiving yards and TDs than McCoy.

5. Adrian Peterson: It's suddenly trendy to assume he will be too broken down and too stuck in an inefficient offense next year to make much fantasy noise. Yet, even with injuries this year he still has more than 1,200 yards rushing and 10 TDs. Like I said, though, a lot can change before next year's draft.

With that, we wrap up another season of Fantasy Fix. I'm taking a lengthy holiday break, but will be back in mid-January to begin sizing up what fantasy baseball has to offer. Happy Holidays!

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

December 17, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

The Papers will return on Wednesday. Things might get a bit iffy in these waning days of 2013 as I try to wrap up a bunch of stuff.

In the meantime:

* Remembering Aaron Moore.

Last of the Mississippi-born blues pianists in Chicago.

* The Ironic George Ryan.

Like Nelson Mandela, he spent time in prison.

* Local Book Notes: Inmates & Mayor 1%.

Both could use some good books.

* Chicagoetry: Fang.

He began to mock me in the most vicious and vehement tones.

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From our Facebook page:

* Fired Ventra Employee Speaks.

* A 'High-End Squatter' Found A Sweet Spot To Stay In Wicker Park.

* Chicago Company Sells Meggings.

* State-Funded Preschool Programs Shrinking.

* Giant Prehistoric Beaver's Discovery In Wicker Park Gets A New Look.

* Newspaper Investigation Links Chicago Lawyer To Controversial Tax-Lien Business.

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From our Twitter feed:

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Iffy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:28 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: An Inmate Initiative & Mayor 1%

"A few months ago, our Books Department was contacted by the Cook County Sheriff's office," Open Books says in its latest update.

"We were told that as part of their new Literacy and Education Initiative, the Department of Corrections wanted to create libraries throughout the 11 facilities of the county jail system, but they were having trouble acquiring enough books that were content-appropriate and in good condition.

"The largest single site pre-trial detention center in the U.S., the Cook County Department of Corrections houses about 9,000 inmates daily and admits approximately 100,000 people each year.

"The Sheriff's office estimates that 65% of the inmates are functionally illiterate, which means they read at about a 7th-grade level or below.

"Up until now, inmates interested in reading had to rely on gifts of books from employees or families as there was no library within the system, aside from the legally-required law libraries.

"And that lack of access to books contributed to an ongoing problem: penal institution records show that the chance of inmates returning to prison drops to 16% if they receive literacy help, down from 70% if they do not.

"In a very short time, Open Books has provided 6,000 high-quality books to the Department of Corrections."

Click through for the rest, including a report on the inmate program by WGN-TV.

Gerber/Hart Is Back
"The Gerber/Hart Library, which holds the Midwest's largest collection of LGBT literature, will finally reopen . . . after leadership and construction problems delayed its move to a new space for nearly two years, said library president Carrie Barnett," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"The 32-year-old library was the center of controversy last year after a 'For Rent' sign quietly popped up on the window of its former Granville Avenue location in Edgewater.

"Rumors swirled about possible infighting among board members last year, but now Barnett said it's time to take the library to its next step at the new Rogers Park location.

"The library space occupies a portion of the second floor at 6500 N. Clark St. and is the building's only tenant."

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"Members of the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives board of directors met with the public Dec. 5 to discuss new directions it intends to take as the library recovers from nearly two years of turmoil," the Windy City Times reports.

"After the meeting, Barnett reiterated the library's renewed commitment to engaging more with the community. 'For the past few years, it has been almost like a black box, and it heightened distrust. People couldn't get answers. We can't, and we won't, go on like that,' she said.

"As part of the new transparency, the public was allowed to tour the archives at the new facility, something that was rarely allowed in the past."

Defending Your Rights In The Digital World
The EFF Reading List of 2013.

Mayor 1%
C-SPAN re-aired this even from November a few days ago - I'm almost finished reading the book at which point I hope to write up a proper post. In the meantime, though:

In Mayor 1%, Kari Lydersen argues that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel represents the wealthy and powerful in the city and has demonstrated an inability to empathize with the working class and poor.

During this event held at Haymarket Brewery in Chicago, Ms. Lydersen discusses the book with Ben Joravsky (Chicago Reader), Amisha Patel (Gressroots Collaborative), and Brandon Johnson (Chicago Teachers Union).

The video isn't embeddable but you can watch it here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:31 AM | Permalink

Remembering Aaron Moore

"Aaron Moore, a formidable blues and boogie-woogie piano player who grew up on a Mississippi plantation and forged his musical career in Chicago, died Nov. 27 of cancer at Rush University Medical Center at age 95, according to his wife, Katie Moore," Howard Reich reported for the Tribune earlier this month.

"Though Aaron Moore was considered a virtuoso pianist and a mighty vocalist by blues connoisseurs, he didn't attain the global fame of the musicians he often backed, such as Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King and David 'Honeyboy' Edwards. In part, this was because Moore worked a day job for the City of Chicago for 36 years, playing music on the side."

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"One of the reasons Moore didn't achieve the notoriety of his colleagues was because he refused to jack in his day-job with the City of Chicago's sanitation department, which he held for 36 years," The Blues Magazine reports.

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Moore was "said to be the last Mississippi-born blues pianist in Chicago."

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In 2008 at the University of Chicago Folk Festival.

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Boot 'Em Up!

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Hello World.

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Hind Part Boogie.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:06 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Fang

FANG

So: in this dream,
a long, yellow cobra
marked with green diamonds
ensnared me

as I rode my bike toward home.
His flat head wrapped
around my right handlebar grip
and I feared it's tail end

might get caught up
in the spokes of the back wheel.
His flat head rested
near my right hand

but I didn't want to let go
of the handlebar grip.
I figured I'd simply be careful.
Of course, his eyes betrayed

a slow move toward the meat
between my right thumb and forefinger,
but as in the physics of dreams,
I could not move my hand.

He sunk his fangs hard
into the muscle of my hand.
So I pried his fucking mouth
off and pressed his fucking jaw

shut but as I did
he began to mock me
in the most vicious and vehement
tones, through his clenched jaws,

effectively calling me out
as a dupe and a pussy,
regardless of his own now
sorry fate.

And I'd worried for him!
I continued riding down the dark lane
toward home, but in a dream
it's never really home,

it is a vision of a past home,
a home now abandoned and disregarded.
What was a street became
twin paths trammeled by wagon wheels,

and I rode west toward Aurora--
sans borealis--
where the suburbs stop
and the farmlands begin,

as the cobra assailed my being.
So I swung him whole
like a cold-scaled lariat
in a clown-yellow harlequinade

and sent him flying
into the underbrush.
But I still heard hissing and coughing
(which I later guessed

was the heat pipes en fugue),
and the ground became infested
with sneering, snarling serpents--

a plague of cobras,
a borealis of fangs--

and then my bike was on a plank
laid some feet atop the path,

riding back east through the slither,
trying not to crush them
but inundated with the squish
of raw meat under my wheels.

I fought to keep my balance
along this plank above the hissing lane
but as soon as the thought occurred,
that I didn't want to slide off

further down into the vipers,
as in the logic of dreams
I slid off further down into the vipers,
waiting for the sure sting of death.

I awoke at home.

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

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:00 AM | Permalink

The Ironic George Ryan

Last Sunday was a day full of irony. NBC Chicago reported that Congressman Bobby Rush invited George Ryan, a convicted felon and dishonored Illinois governor, to speak at a service at Rush's church honoring the recently deceased international hero of human rights, Nelson Mandela. Both Ryan and Mandela spent time in prison. Mandela spent 27 years locked up for seeking justice for the citizens of South African. Ryan spent five years in a federal facility for obstructing justice, but that is not the irony I am thinking of.

Yes, Ryan has paid his debt, and in the spirit of Mandela, one should be forgiving to those who have caused one harm, but this is Illinois. It is not unusual for our convicted politicians to rise to a level of celebrity while others continue business as usual.

Take, for instance, Ryan's newfound friend. Last week the Sun-Times reported that he sponsored a million-dollar grant for a technology project in the Englewood neighborhood. The project never got off the ground and now the money is unaccounted for. Doesn't Rush have some duty to to assure that the money is or was responsibly spent? To me, what is ironic is that Rush invited a convicted felon known for abusing taxpayer money to speak at Rush's church so soon after the Sun-Times report.

Ryan's connection to Mandela also holds some irony. While Illinois governor, Ryan took a stance against the death penalty and Mandela contacted him to encourage him to stand by his certitude. Ryan did do just that and even visited Mandela in South Africa, possibly to gain more inspiration.

What is ironic is that in January 2000, the Sun-Times exposed one of Ryan's obstructions while he was serving as Illinois' secretary of state. He covered-up the theft of state revenue from the Naperville driver's license examining station. The stolen money was allegedly to be used as donations for the Citizens for Ryan campaign fund. The day after the Sun-Times article was published, Ryan announced that he was placing a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois. We can be certain Ryan's motives did not matter to a man like Mandela, but to those of us in Illinois, Ryan's actions were ironic.

During Sunday's service, Ryan described Mandela as "a towering figure of courage and tenacity." Another irony is that Ryan is tenacious like Mandela. In October 2007, roughly one month before he began serving his federal sentence, Ryan told me "I got screwed." He certainly has been tenacious about his innocence.

Mandela wrote an autobiography as an inspiration for all those who seek justice. Now Ryan says he too is writing a book. I wonder if his autobiography will express the same humility and courage of Nelson Mandela.

That would be beyond ironic.

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Ed Hammer is a retired police captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty. He can be reached through his website.

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Previously by Ed Hammer:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board
* Cop vs. Teacher
* Signs of Change
* Pols vs. Teachers
* The Terre Haute Redemption
* Rahm's War On Teachers
* About Those Indicted Nurses
* Body Language Bingo: A Guide To Watching The Presidential Debates
* George Ryan's Day Of Independence

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See also: Honoring A True Illinois Hero.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

December 16, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"Maybe yesterday was the day," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes.

"Maybe on a cold blustery day in Cleveland Jay Cutler had a breakthrough. Or maybe it happened while he was out with groin and ankle injuries or when he returned to practicing full steam this past week. The main thing was this: The breakthrough had nothing to do with his performance on the field."

You'll have to click through to see what he's talking about.

60 Minutes We Can't Get Back
Investigative giant has become a hideous joke.

The [Bobby Rush] Papers
Updated.

Today's CPS WTF
"Lake View High School must hire two new physical education teachers next year to meet a state requirement that was previously waived for 16 years - but without more funding, that means two other teachers must go," Serena Dai reports for DNAinfo Chicago.

Groupon Blooper
Friday night dump.

Rahm's O'Hare
"It's O'Hare International Airport's biggest contract ever, worth an estimated $300 million a year in food and beverage sales," Crain's reports.

"Would-be concessionaires have been waiting 18 months for a chance to land the business. They'll be waiting a lot longer.

"No bids will be awarded at O'Hare until after Chicago's next mayoral election, in February 2015, sources familiar with the city's bidding plans say."

Well, that would seem to indicate a political reason for the delay. Not so, some officials say.

"The chairman of the City Council's Aviation Committee, Ald. Michael Zalewski, says it might be costlier for the city to proceed any faster. The O'Hare deal, for example, could stretch for 20 years. 'I think what's important is to get it right," says Mr. Zalewski, whose 23rd Ward includes Midway. 'And if that means taking a little more time, getting everyone on the same page, then that . . . is the most important thing that we can do for the taxpayers.'"

Because the Emanuel administration is known for showing the patience necessary to get it right.

Comptrolling Rahm
"The Alliance for Chicago Transformation has called on the Chicago City Council to vet Daniel Widawsky, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's choice for the post of City Comptroller," the Alliance says in a press release picked up by the Windy City Times.

Widawsky has contributed nearly $10,000 to Emanuel's election fund while his employer, billionaire Ken Griffin of Citadel Finance, gave another $105,300 to the mayor's campaign.

Griffin has donated large sums to conservative Republican candidates and causes, but said in a March 2013 interview with the Chicago Tribune's Melissa Harris regarding his support for Emanuel, "Rahm has done a fantastic job of engaging the business community in Chicago. ... [He] has been very solicitous for advice."

Byron Sigcho of ACT wonders what kind of advice Emanuel is getting.

"Widawsky is Citadel's in-house expert on the use of tax credits, especially the use of New Market Tax Credits, which enable developers and their investors to remediate heavily polluted sites known as brownfields, essentially without cost to them, and to use the cleaned up sites for profit.

"Chicago environmental organizations, especially The Environmental Law and Policy Center and The Pilsen Alliance, have struggled long and hard to close hazardous chemical-spewing plants, most notably coal-fired energy plants in Pilsen and Little Village. Are those efforts to be converted by the city from community-based victories to financial windfalls for companies with ties to the administration, and to the Office of Comptroller?"

Sigcho is especially concerned about relationships between Griffin's Citadel Limited Partnership LLC, and Dynegy Incorporated, a Texas energy corporation which has been involved in use of tax shelters in other contaminated sites throughout Illinois and the country. They are looking to acquire the Pilsen and Little Village sites.

"With at least $115,300 going to the Emanuel campaign fund from Citadel employees, followed by the Mayor's dissolution of the department responsible for oversight of environmental projects, now followed by the appointment of a Citadel employee to handle the city's money, we are calling on the Council and in particular aldermen Solis and Munoz of Pilsen and Little Village to make certain that there is no taint to this appointment," Sigcho said. "And we will be following up on this appointment as well as the fate of the sites in these Latino wards, as well as brownfield sites throughout the city."

Also:

"Widawsky joined Citadel in 2007. Previously, he was the tax director for GE Consumer Finance, which had operations in 54 countries. Prior to joining GE Consumer Finance in 2001, Mr. Widawsky was the tax director for NBC, a subsidiary of GE.

"Mr. Widawsky was tax counsel for CBS Corporation (previously known as Westinghouse Electric Corporation) from 1996 to 1998, and, began his career at Skadden Arps in Los Angeles and then New York from 1993 to 1996."

Checking Out Gone Girl
Ben Affleck aboard Ukrainian Village author's thriller.

Beachwood Holiday Party
Drinks on us.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring:

Arbor Creek, Spacehog, Origin, Claw Toe, Distract, Halestorm, Redlight King, Epic Eric, the Breeders, Saves The Day, Blue Oyster Cult, Foghat, and the Rebirth Brass Band.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Save the day.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:23 AM | Permalink

Checking Out Gone Girl

"The most checked-out book from the Chicago Public Library this year was the thriller Gone Girl by Ukrainian Village-based author Gillian Flynn," Kyla Gardner reports for DNAinfo Chicago.

Let's take a look.

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"Marriage can be a real killer. One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn, takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. As the Washington Post proclaimed, her work 'draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.' Gone Girl's toxic mix of sharp-edged wit with deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn."

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"In several interviews, Flynn has said that she was interested in exploring the psychology and dynamics of a long-term relationship. In portraying her principal characters who are out-of-work writers, she made use of her own experience being laid off from her job as a writer for Entertainment Weekly."

*

"[A] two-sided contest in which Nick and Amy tell conflicting stories. Each addresses the reader: Nick in the present tense, and Amy by way of an italics-filled, giddily emotional diary about the marriage. Both Nick and Amy are extremely adept liars, and they lied to each other a lot. Now they will lie to you."

*

"As 2013 draws to a close, there's one novel this year that has resonated with UK readers through all four seasons: Gillian Flynn's dark thriller Gone Girl.

"Published in mass market paperback on 3 January 2013, the book has seen incredible sales, both physical and digital. To date, we have sold over 1,000,000 physical copies and over 500,000 eBooks."

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"Flynn's page-turner alternates perspectives, so readers are invited into both characters' minds, a potential storytelling challenge for the filmmakers. 'I don't want to give away too much, because if you know the book, you know that there are set of reveals that you would want to maintain the integrity of,' says Affleck. 'But I will say that Gillian adapted it and I think it's very, very faithful to her book. If you read the book and liked it, you will definitely like the movie.'

"Gone Girl, which is slated for release on Oct. 3, 2014, has been filming in Missouri and California and is aiming to wrap in February."

*

Exclusive first read on NPR.

*

Flynn on The Interview Show.

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Flynn on The View.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:49 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The New Jay Cutler

Maybe yesterday was the day. Maybe on a cold blustery day in Cleveland Jay Cutler had a breakthrough. Or maybe it happened while he was out with groin and ankle injuries or when he returned to practicing full steam this past week. The main thing was this: The breakthrough had nothing to do with his performance on the field.

Cutler showed real gratitude after the Bears' 38-31 victory. Even better, he displayed some humility - the kind that goes a long way with teammates and fans alike.

The quarterback also revealed that earlier in the week, after receiving medical clearance to play, he sought out meetings with his offensive linemen and with skill players such as Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. He wanted to make sure everyone was on board with him replacing super-backup Josh McCown.

Star athletes have to walk a fine line. They have to have the rock-solid confidence to shrug off things like brutal interceptions, to know that no matter how badly things go early, they will come back later and get the job done. But if there isn't some humility to go with it, if confidence become arrogance, then critical lessons go unlearned.

Cutler throws the ball as well as any quarterback in the game not named Rodgers. With just a little better mindset, he will be even more dangerous. Maybe on Sunday he turned the corner. We'll see in Philadelphia next Sunday and at Soldier Field against the Packers the week after that in the regular-season finale.

* * *

As for the game itself, well, it was actually the sort of three-phase triumph that Lovie's best teams used to put together with regularity.

Devin Hester had three strong returns and the special teams were otherwise solid other than a couple mediocre Adam Podlesh punts. The defense grabbed some turnovers, scored (Zack Bowman!) and got stops when the Bears had to have them. They also benefited from some Browns penalties and many dropped passes. And on offense, once again the Bears' big receivers made even bigger plays.

Chris Conte blew that last play (Josh Gordon's long touchdown catch) but he spent the rest of the game intimidating the hell out of Browns' star young receiver. During the first 55 minutes, there were almost a half-dozen plays where Gordon either refused to fully extend himself to try to catch passes in the middle of the field or he simply dropped the ball.

And say this for Conte: He was there ready to blast Gordon on virtually every one of those plays. Going into the game, Bears fans could have expressed doubts about Conte's ability to intimidate high school receivers. But somehow Conte got in Gordon's head and stayed there on Sunday.

Martellus Bennett's fumble (which was returned for a touchdown) was a potential crusher. It gave the Browns a seven-point lead - a lead they still had with several minutes gone in the fourth quarter. But the Bears defense bailed him out with the aforementioned stops. It turns out that was Bennett's first lost fumble ever in the NFL.

And it happened because the big tight end, who otherwise had a strong game with six catches for 71 yards, was trying to do a little extra. He knew he was going to have to stretch out to get a first down and it was clear he was carrying the ball a bit further away from his body than usual in anticipation of stretching the ball out in front of him as he went down. Instead, a Brown defender hopped on his back and punched it away.

Two more things: What a signing by Phil Emery to pick up Jeremiah Ratliff about six weeks ago after the Cowboys released him. The four-time Prow Bowl defensive tackle was a force on Sunday, pressuring the passer and making numerous strong plays against the run.

And from the "never doubt Marc Trestman's play-calling" file: The Bears ran that irritating end-around to Alshon Jeffery again early in the game. Not surprisingly, the play lost three yards. The beautiful thing though was that the play set up those delightful misdirection pitches to Forte later in the game - the ones on which the Bears running back gained about half of his 127 yards. Those plays started with fake speed sweep hand-offs to Jeffery going one way and then were capped off by Forte taking pitches the other way through big holes.

Sometimes the great play-callers call plays that probably won't work early to set up ones they know will work later on.

Speaking of later, it is seriously late in the season, and the Bears are still in the running for a divisional title. It is feeling like this team might enjoy a little breakthrough as well.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

60 Minutes We Can't Get Back

Investigative giant has become hideous joke.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Arbor Creek at Mojoes on Friday night.


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2. Spacehog at Mojoes on Saturday night.

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3. Origin at Cobra Lounge on Sunday night.

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4. Claw Toe at Quenchers on Friday night.

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5. Distract at Quenchers on Friday night.

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6. Halestorm at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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7. Redlight King at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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8. Epic Eric at Livewire on Saturday night.

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9. The Breeders at the Metro on Saturday night.

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10. Saves The Day at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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11. Rebirth Brass Band at Martyrs' on Saturday night.

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12. Blue Oyster Cult at the Copernicus on Friday night.

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13. Foghat at the Copernicus on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

December 15, 2013

Beachwood Holiday Party!

We're having a party.

Please join all manner of Beachwood and Beachwood-affiliated folks and peoples on THURSDAY, DEC. 19 at the affable Beachwood Inn for high jinks, storytelling, drunkardness, jukebox domination, pool sharking, off-key singing, joke-telling, flirtation and all-around good-timery. The tab is on our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman, who asks only that you let him hear a few of his favorite Allman Brothers tunes while regaling you with tales of adult sports figures behaving badly and youth sports adorableness.

I'll be there co-hosting and there is the possibility of door prizes and other gifts of gratitude. We'll open the tab at 7 p.m. for early birds and close the tab when they kick us out at closing time. Please at least loosely RSVP so we can make sure our favorite beers are properly stocked. Pizzas will likely be ordered. See you then.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:58 PM | Permalink

December 14, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

"The Cook County probation department has lost track of hundreds of convicts, overlooked new crimes committed by offenders and failed to rein in those who violated curfew or used illegal drugs - some who went on to rape or kill, a Tribune investigation found," the paper reports.

"At a time when county officials have argued for more people to be redirected from jail cells to programs such as probation, the Tribune has found a dysfunctional department that has fallen short of its mission of instilling responsibility in offenders and creating safer neighborhoods.

"Perhaps no case is more emblematic of the problems in the probation department than that of Micheail Ward, who is accused of killing 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton on Jan. 29, a week after she performed with her high school band during President Barack Obama's inauguration."

The rest is behind a paywall, but we get it.

Maybe Cut More Spending On Probation
Moody's: Chicago Pension Fix Not Enough.

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Yes, I know the county and city are not the same thing.Sometimes you have to use an apples-to-oranges comparison to make a point.

Weekend Space Report
* China Carries Out World's First Soft Landing Of Probe On The Moon In Nearly 4 Decades.

* Iran Sends Second Monkey Into Space.

Advantage: Iran.

Plus: Universe Could Be About To Collapse And Squeeze Into A Tiny Ball.

E-Newman!
Marissa Mayer 'Very Sorry' For Yahoo Mail Outage.

Now if users will kindly wait in line for office hours, Mayer will get to you as soon as she can.

As Were We Watching Them
Susan Sarandon Was Stoned At 'Almost All' Awards Shows.

Somehow These Do Seem Related
Pension Vote Done, Gambling Next?

Jesus Hong
Apparently Megyn Kelly doesn't watch Family Guy.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: via Bernie's.

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The College Football Report: Clowneys, Couches & Coaching Carousels.

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: The Proverbial Josh McCown.

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The Beachwood Holiday Party Report: It's on.

Please join all manner of Beachwood and Beachwood-affiliated folks and peoples on THURSDAY, DEC. 19 at the affable Beachwood Inn for high jinks, storytelling, drunkardness, jukebox domination, pool sharking, off-key singing, joke-telling, flirtation and all-around good-timery. The tab is on our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman, who asks only that you let him hear a few of his favorite Allman Brothers tunes while regaling you with tales of adult sports figures behaving badly and youth sports adorableness.

I'll be there co-hosting and there is the possibility of door prizes and other gifts of gratitude. We'll open the tab at 7 p.m. for early birds and close the tab when they kick us out at closing time. Please at least loosely RSVP so we can make sure our favorite beers are properly stocked. Pizzas will likely be ordered. See you then.

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Yum.

saucerbrunchdec1413.jpg

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Sound Opinions presents a Christmas special like none other. Holiday music collector and expert Andy Cirzan is back with 'Rock 'n' Pop Xmas' - Selections from XTC, The Band, The Kinks, The Beatles and more."

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

St. Anselm Arts and Talent Show

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Young artists express their feelings about violence in the neighborhood through art, song, and dance at this talent show held by the St. Anselm Jim Fisher Development Center.

Saturday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV19.

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Sounds of the Underground: Maiden Chicago

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The Iron Maiden tribute band performed live and loud at CAN TV's studio in one of the last shows before co-founder Eric Babcock leaves the band.

Saturday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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Nitty Gritty News

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This urban news program explores Chicago's gun culture and new concealed carry laws from a community perspective.

Saturday at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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Perspectivas Latinas: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

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Ricardo Lopez of CMAP discusses the impact of development plans for the region on the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods.

Saturday at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Education Town Hall Meeting

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Community members and experts gather to discuss a wide range of education issues, including early childhood programs, school performance, graduation rates and Safe Passage.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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People's School Board Meeting

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A collection of community groups and residents advocating for an elected school board in Chicago weigh in on issues facing public schools.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Town Hall on Fracking

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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources holds a public hearing in Chicago for the public to voice their opinions on the proposed regulations of Illinois' new Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act.

Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Chicago GOP Reveals 2014 Candidates

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The Chicago Republican Party introduces 18 candidates for the Illinois General Assembly, selected through what the party calls an American Idol-style vetting process where anyone could apply.

Sunday at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink

December 13, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"Removing everything from Chicago's closed schools will cost $10 million more than the district originally signed on for," Linda Lutton reports for WBEZ.

"The price tag for moving desks, chairs, books, computers, and everything else out of 43 shuttered school buildings is now $18.9 million, more than double the original $8.9 million contract."

"Tom Tyrrell is the Chicago Public Schools official overseeing school closings. He says one thing explains cost overruns:

"The volume of stuff that we ended up moving was three times higher than we estimated it was going to be. It was stunning how much more was in the schools than we anticipated."

Why?

"Costs went up by $850,000 when students from closed schools enrolled in schools other than those the district had designated."

What about the other $9.1 million? That's more than an underestimate, it's moving malpractice.

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"Tyrrell says CPS has made use of the movers to handle additional work, like 11 new 'co-locations' where two or more schools share the same building. And he says other costs associated with closings are coming in under budget. Tyrrell says the overall costs of closing the historic number of schools - which includes things like transition coordinators, 'integration' events between closing and receiving schools, and social-emotional learning programs - will remain unchanged at $78 million."

So somehow CPS has made up that $10 million elsewhere. Riiight.

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"CPS hired the Ohio-based logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions in April to handle the massive move. At the end of August, just as school was starting, Chicago's board of education voted to increase the maximum spending allowed on the logistics contract, and the district quietly amended the contract in mid-September to pay GWS $10 million more. The increase has not been reported in the media."

From the Beachwood vault, April 12:

"Hope [Global Workplace Solutions is] better at logistics than websites: Their last two news entries were from 2010 - one of them introducing their new website's mission to 'provide timely delivery of information.'"

If you click through now, you'll see that their news section is now 404ed.

GWS does, however, still tout that it provides "a consistent, sustainable business process that minimizes risk, reduces cost and improves quality."

Oh, and sometimes misunderestimates a project by 53 percent.

Related: What is CPS doing with all that stuff from schools they closed?

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See also: Don't Tell Rahm!

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And: "I'm willing to listen to any person's perspective, but I won't be intimidated by someone who's paid to control the press."

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Billy Goat Block Bust
"Laurance Freed, the beleaguered developer of the Block 37 mall in the Loop, and a business associate were indicted [Thursday] on federal fraud charges that they lied to the city and banks to obtain funding," Crain's reports.

"The charges against the pair involve Joseph Freed's redevelopment of the former Goldblatt's department story in Uptown, a project that was funded in part with tax-increment financing (TIF) from the City of Chicago. Mr. Freed and Ms. Walters made the false statements between March 2008 and February 2011, when Joseph Freed 'was in the midst of a severe liquidity crisis' that 'threatened the company's future,' according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"To help fund the project at 4700-4740 N. Broadway St., the city issued $6.7 million in TIF notes. An entity led by Mr. Freed used the commitment as collateral to secure what was ultimately a $9 million loan from Cole Taylor Bank, as well as a $150 million revolving line of credit from a group of lenders led by Bank of America Corp., according to the indictment.

"The problem was that the Freed venture had 'double-pledged' some of the TIF collateral to both lending groups, and the two executives concealed that information from the Bank of America-led group, the indictment says. They did so to prevent a $105 million default with the lenders and to obtain a $10 million loan modification, according to the indictment."

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Here's the indictment.

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Previously:

From 2011:

"Laurance Freed, whose family-owned firm is beset by foreclosure lawsuits, is facing a criminal probe over the alleged forgery of his sister's signature on a $1.4-million loan guarantee.

The criminal investigation came to light last month in a case filed by the University of Wisconsin's endowment against Mr. Freed, his sister and his brother to collect an unpaid $6-million loan on a shopping center in Madison, Wis."

From 2012:

"An Illinois appellate court has upheld Cook County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Brennan's decision to hold Chicago developer Laurance Freed in contempt for wrongfully transferring almost $5 million in the Block 37 foreclosure suit."

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Shilling Shiller
"Former independent Ald. Helen Shiller (46th) is lobbying her former colleagues to become the new $130,000-a-year City Council Financial Analyst," Fran Spielman reports for the Sun-Times.

Accompanied by a photo with her palling around with Richard M. Daley.

Shiller was independent when she started her run as an alderman, but certainly not when she ended it.

The "independent" apellation is not only unnecessary, but untrue.

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"Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said Shiller was 'independent for many years,' even though she 'did what she had to do'' and ultimately reached a political accommodation with Daley."

She did what she had to do.

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Spielman herself writes near the bottom of her story that "Ultimately, Shiller was co-opted by Daley, became a committee chairman, supported his budgets and programs and ended up endorsing Daley for re-election in 2003.

"Daley returned the favor by supporting the Shiller-backed Wilson Yard project, among others. He also stopped putting up candidates to run against her."

So why not lead with "Former co-opted Ald. Helen Shiller . . . ?"

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The [Bobby Rush] Papers
(D-AT&T, Mugabe).

The Obamacare Paper Pileup
Paper is proving to be a problem.

Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast
Chicken, tacos and auto insurance.

Clowneys, Couchees & Coaching Carousels
Plus: One of the best traditions in all of sport.

In The College Football Report.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring:

Trivium, Noveller, MS MR, The Kills, Panic! At The Disco, Portugal. The Man, 30 Seconds To Mars, Avril Lavigne, Paramore, Fifth Harmony, Icona Pop, Drake, Devildriver, Conditions, and King Krule.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Don't be krule.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:16 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Clowneys, Couches & Coaching Carousels

To think, just last week we were caught up in the last gasp of BCS controversy. Debate raged. Hypotheticals proliferated. Questions swirled.

With a win over 'Bama, could Auburn leapfrog Ohio State for a berth in the national championship? (Florida State's bid was a foregone conclusion.) What if Missouri won the SEC championship over Auburn; would they deserve consideration?

How weak was Ohio State's schedule, anyway? Missouri, Auburn - same question.

Who plays for Northern Illinois other than Jordan Lynch?

Why isn't the Pac-12 nationally relevant?

Can we veto UCF's automatic bid to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl?

How long do we have to wait for the Domino's Bread Bowl?

Why didn't we bet the house on Auburn at 1000-1 to win the national championship?

Where does the Heart of Dallas Bowl take place? Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg Bowl, San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, and R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - same question.

Yet few asked the only important question: What if Alabama and Ohio State both lose?

Well. If that were to happen, the BCS HAL 9000 would have, inexplicably, and for the final time, done its job.

Sure enough, HAL came through for us. On January 6, we will be treated to a match-up between the top (maybe) two teams for the national title: Undefeated #1 Florida State and the one-loss #2 Auburn Tigers. Well done, HAL. Well done.

Bowl season doesn't begin until next weekend, so for this edition, we will round up some of our favorite recent news items.

Will He Or Won't He
Mack Brown, Texas, Nick Saban, and Alabama are keeping the headlines churning with fresh controversy. We imagine someone, somewhere, is live-blogging the drama as UT may force Brown to resign while Saban waits in the wings, sitting on a reportedly huge offer to stay in Tuscaloosa. That person has not slept since Sunday.

Brown, on his status: "My situation has not changed." (Read: That is to say, I am still out here twisting in the wind.)

Alabama senior quarterback AJ McCarron, just prior to being announced as the 2013 Maxwell (i.e. player of the year) Award winner, put the kibosh on the rumors of Saban's departure: "I think Coach is happy where he's at." (Read: Somebody needs to coach me up on interviews when I reach the NFL.)

Cyril Crutchfield of St. Augustine high school (in New Orleans), the head coach for top-ranked recruit RB Leonard Fournette, on Saban leaving Alabama: "I think he is committed to being the next Alabama football coach." (Read: I just caused a flurry of unnecessary confusion, as Saban is the current, not the next, Alabama football coach. Also: This check better not bounce.)

Alabama and LSU are pursuing Fournette, who will announce his decision at the Under Armour All-American Game on January 2, the same date as the (Alabama-Michigan St.) Sugar Bowl. Our prediction: Cyril will find a well-paid position at a Baton Rouge-area business, complete with relocation reimbursement, a company car, and temporary housing. Fournette will attend LSU.

Also: The best and worst thing to happen to sports reporting: Twitter.

And: If Texas offers the job to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, will he ask the Longhorns to foot (so to speak) the bill for his $100,000 fine from the NFL for interfering with a kick return?

Hall Of Fame Hatin'
The College Football Hall of Fame inducted the 2013 class on Tuesday night, including former Nebraska QB Tommie Frazier, who has distinguished himself recently by blasting Husker head coach Bo Pelini on Twitter.

(Read: What does the "Backspace" button do? Help me out here, people.)

Also inducted: former Kentucky Wildcat Steve "Mr. Anywhere" Meilinger, who played under Bear Bryant at UK from 1951-53. Melinger "split time between end, halfback and quarterback on offense; on defense, he played end, linebacker and defensive back" and, to keep himself busy, he was a two-year starting punter and returned punts and kickoffs on special teams. The two-time first team All-American is still with us, so the University of Kentucky R&D department should go swab his cheek for DNA right now. The Wildcats need 22 copies of this guy.

Got A Clowney
The South Carolina Highway Patrol ticketed South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney doing 110 in a 70 mph zone last Saturday night.

The officer identified the driver while radioing in the call as "Clowney", confirming that Jadeveon has reached one-name-celebrity status.

While punching it to 110 mph sounds fun, the real adrenaline high goes to the SCHP officer who clocked 142 mph during the pursuit, according to his dash cam.

As an aside, Clowney was driving a Chrysler 300. The base model 300 (which he was assuredly not driving) starts at $30,000. By contrast, the College Football Report Contraption at Clowney's age was a 1986 Plymouth Reliant, which was assuredly not roadworthy.

Lord Of The Flies II: Escape From East Lansing
MSU students must keep a reserve of couches on hand for bonfire purposes. Following the Spartans upset win over Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game, delirious fans set all available upholstery ablaze. Good times were had by all, at least until the state police moved in.

The Finest Rivalry In The Game
The regular season concludes this weekend with one of the best traditions in sport: The Army-Navy game. The opening coin flip this season will use the silver dollar intended for the 1963 game. For that meeting, JFK was scheduled to meet the team captains at midfield for the coin flip. Several weeks following Kennedy's assassination, Midshipman captain John Lynch received the coin accompanying a letter from Secretary of the Army Cyrus Vance. Fifty years later, the coin will finally be used and then retired to the Navy Football Hall of Fame.

Every year, without fail, we make a point to catch the conclusion (at minimum) of the Army-Navy game for the post-game ceremony: The two teams first face the losing academy students, singing their school alma mater, followed by the teams linking arms and signing to the student section for the winning team. There is no better display of why we love this sport, and why we're willing to bear Clowneys, couch conflagrations and coaching controversies.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 AM | Permalink

The [Bobby Rush] Papers

Updated on 12/16 as indicated.

"In 2000, in the midst of a bruising but ultimately successful Democratic primary campaign against then-state Sen. Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) launched a nonprofit with a stated mission of reviving the violence-plagued Englewood neighborhood," the Better Government Association reports.

"Called the Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corp., the group soon found a generous benefactor in the telecommunications industry: SBC - now called AT&T - donated $1 million toward the creation of a "technology center" that would provide advanced computer training to residents and serve as a small-business incubator in a community with few other entrepreneurial opportunities.

"Congress also voted to spend $175,000 in taxpayer money to buy and renovate a building near 68th and Halsted to house the facility - which was to be named the Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology, according to federal documents and other records.

"But more than a decade later, the money is all gone, and Rush's tech center never moved beyond the design stage. Englewood remains as desperate and desolate as ever, and Rush continues to represent the 1st Congressional District, serving an 11th term.

"As disturbing as the broken promises from Rush, he is unable or unwilling to show where that money ended up, the Better Government Association found. Rush said he did not run the day-to-day operation and kept no records."

Go read the whole thing - highly recommended.

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UPDATE 12/16:

"For the past dozen years, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., hasn't reported paying any rent for his campaign office, records show, in what experts say could be a violation of federal election law or House ethics rules," the Better Government Association reports.

"It's one of a series of questionable practices an investigation by the Better Government Association and Chicago Sun-Times found involving Citizens for Rush, the South Side congressman's campaign committee. Rush's campaign also has:

  • Subsidized the South Side church founded by Rush, who is the congregation's pastor, giving Beloved Community Christian Church more than $196,000 since June 2004. Those payments apparently helped the congressman's church close on a building it purchased and stave off a creditor.
  • Paid Rush's wife Carolyn Rush a year-round salary since 2007 totaling $404,000 as a consultant. That's nearly a quarter of the $1.6 million the congressman's campaign fund has raised in that time.

Wow, that's positively Jacksonian.

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"U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and two nonprofits he founded have repeatedly failed to pay federal, state or local taxes on time, a Better Government Association investigation has revealed," the BGA reports in a separate installment.

"In 2013 alone, Rush, his wife, a church the congressman runs and another nonprofit organization operating out of the church had tax delinquencies that added up to as much as $195,000, the BGA found.

"The pattern of tax delinquency for Rush and his organizations goes back almost a decade, records show. But the amount currently in arrears seems to be an all-time high for Rush and his affiliates."

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"Since 2001, roughly $1.7 million was donated to Rush's pet charities by businesses counting on favorable actions by him in Congress, according to interviews, and public records examined by the BGA," in yet another installment.

"Rush founded three nonprofits that have accepted donations from the utility and telecommunications sectors that he has authority over in Congress.

"Aside from Rebirth, they are Beloved Community Christian Church and its social-service arm, Beloved Community Family Services. A fourth group, the Beloved Community Family Wellness Center, is described as a special 'mission' of Rush's church, but he is not listed on paperwork as a corporate officer. It accepted a single donation from SBC/AT&T, according to the telecom giant's charitable disclosure forms."

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Rush was too busy hosting a tribute to Nelson Mandela to comment.

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From the Beachwood vault (dead links have been removed):

March 2006:

Incumbent Bobby Rush is a minister now, which means he's stealing money from his congregation as well as his constituents.

April 2006:

llinois congressman Bobby Rush is a co-sponsor of the 'Communications Opportunity and Enhancement Act of 2006,' which shouldn't necessarily interest you until you learn that Rush is the only Democrat to sign on to the bill.

Curious?

Now consider that the bill is a piece of telecommunications legislation backed in part by phone giant SBC (now AT&T.) And that Rush, of course, sits on the committee that will consider the bill.

Intrigued?

Now reflect on the $1 million in charitable donations SBC started paying out in 2001 to help fund the still-unbuilt "Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology."

April 2006:

"Rush founded the nonprofit, tax-exempt Rebirth of Englewood center, located in his South Side congressional district, to improve the economy of the impoverished Englewood community. Rush sits on its board as does his wife, Carolyn, and the center employs his son, Flynn," [Lynn] Sweet writes.

"Payments for the $1 million grant were made by the SBC Foundation between 2001 and 2004 to underwrite the Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology, envisioned as a training and business resource facility for the Englewood area. SBC acquired AT&T and switched to using the better-known name. The Rush Center still has not opened, though officials are hopeful it will within 12 months . . .

"[T]he Rebirth of Englewood . . . has federal and state contracts, and entities tied to the Beloved Christian Community Church of which Rush is the founder and the pastor. Rush uses money from his federal campaign fund to keep the church afloat."

May 2006:

It's hard to believe that U.S. congressman Bobby Rush is so dense as to not understand why accepting a million-dollar grant from AT&T's charitable arm for his Englewood community center while sitting on a committee that helps set the nation's telecommunications policy could be fairly construed as a conflict-of-interest, so we can reasonably conclude that he's simply being disingenuous in his attack on Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet, who broke the Rush story last week.

Appearing on Chicago Tonight last night, Rush called Sweet's story "shoddy journalism" and called Sweet "lazy" for apparently not calling the House ethics committee for a determination of whether Rush had a conflict-of-interest.

If she had called, Rush insisted, she would have learned that there was no conflict. Hence, no story.

Rush can't really believe this. But instead of explaining why the confluence of events looks bad - particularly because he is the only Democrat to sponsor a controversial phone industry-backed bill - but is in reality an entirely up-and-up matter, Rush won't even concede that it looks bad.

"No, it doesn't look bad!" he exclaimed. "As a matter of fact, it looks pretty good!"

Any remaining benefit of the doubt one might have extended to Rush disappeared with that statement.

I would never accuse Rush of being lazy. But he is, in the least, practicing shoddy politics, with a side order of stupid for the way he has now opened himself up to further scrutiny. It sure sounds like he deserves it, because, after all, what else is he up to that "looks pretty good" despite the facts on the ground?

Note: Rush, who routed a challenger named Barack Obama in 2000, is expected to slaughter Republican opponent Jason Tabour in the fall. So the system works.

May 2006:

U.S. congressman Bobby Rush got the Sun-Times to publish his complaint about Lynn Sweet's recent story revealing that the charitable arm of SBC (now AT&T) gave $1 million to Rush's Englewood community center. Rush sits on the congressional committee dealing with telecommunications legislation.

Rush argues, as he did on Chicago Tonight last week, that because the House Ethics Committee verbally told him that there was no technical conflict-of-interest, there was no conflict-of-interest and therefore no story.

I'm sure we can all agree it's a good thing the House Ethics Committee doesn't edit the nation's newspapers.

June 2006:

A full-page ad in the Tribune today sponsored by the Video Access Alliance thanks U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush "For Fighting For My Family."

Rush, it seems, "took a stand in support of hard-working families by voting for TV Freedom."

The Video Access Alliance is funded in part by telephone companies, at least one of which has been very generous to Rush. Rush denies this is why he felt compelled to break ranks with his party to become the only Democratic co-sponsor on an industry-backed bill telecom bill.

So it's no surprise that the Video Access Alliance, turns out to be an astroturf lobbying group set up by a strategic communications consultant passing herself and her organization off as something they are not. The real grassroots is in no mood to thank Rush on behalf of their hard-working families.

January 2007:

When Bobby Rush was a Chicago alderman, he had his wife on his payroll. Later he backed his sister for his old seat. So AT&T was a natural benefactor for Rush, given their Friends & Family plan and all.

July 2007:

What in the world is Bobby Rush doing talking about holding hearings about the alleged NBA gambling scandal? Well, it turns out he can hold hearings on anything he wants.

For example, if he wanted to hold a hearing about politicians and their relationships with companies whose bills they vote on, he could do that.

But really, shouldn't congressional hearings be about the public interest, not a congressman's interest?

November 2008:

Bobby Rush is a joke. We all know it, but we don't all say it.

December 2008:

Leave it to Bobby Rush to devote himself to the most important issues facing taxpayers.

"[T]he bill - being co-sponsored by Reps. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, and Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican - will prohibit the marketing, promotion, and advertising of a postseason game as a 'national championship' football game, unless it is the result of a playoff system. Violations of the prohibition will be treated as violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act as an unfair or deceptive act or practice."

December 2008:

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-AT&T) is now at Burris's side. He just thanked God for the decision by Blago. God reportedly called Rush at 6 a.m. and told him he helped make the appointment. At first Rush replied, "Is this a joke?" And then the voice in his head said, "No, it's God."

December 2008:

And by accepting the appointment, Roland Burris has already shown he's unworthy of it. Danny Davis suddenly looks a lot better; Bobby Rush looks like a fool.

Finally, Rush's race-baiting is despicable on several levels, but merely sticking to pure logic, it's not as if Burris is the only African American who can fill the seat. And if the U.S. Senate finds a way to reject Burris, it won't be because of the color of his skin. In fact, whoever would emerge as the alternative to Burris might very likely be African American as well.

So let no one be fooled.

January 2009:

In some ways I almost feel like Bobby Rush is even more despicable than Rod Blagojevich.

"But Rep. Bobby Rush, the South Side congressman who has injected racially charged language into the appointment, said on MSNBC that the sight of Burris holding a news conference in the rain after being refused admittance to the Senate floor on Tuesday was akin to 'the dogs being sicced on children in Birmingham, Ala.'"

Apparently I revere the civil rights movement far more than Rush does.

January 2009:

I'm pretty upset about the Oscar nominations. How could Bobby Rush not get a best supporting actor bid?

August 2009:

Oh no, not again.

The Bobby Rush Show is back for an encore.

Apparently rested and ready for action, Rush, fresh off a successful race-mongering campaign that scared the bejeesus out of weak-kneed Democrats and saved Roland Burris's bacon, is back in action in the case of the University of Illinois holdout trustees.

And again, the congressman is on the wrong side.

Rush has written a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn telling him to back off his demand that the remaining two trustees resign like their colleagues did. Quinn wants to appoint a new board in the wake of the school's admissions scandal.

Rush calls holdout James Montgomery an "outstanding citizen" and holdout Frances Carroll a person of high moral character, according to WBEZ.

Right.

While not the most egregious violators of ethics and good sense, both Montgomery and Carroll dipped their hands into the admissions process to help favored students get into the school despite the fact that they would have been denied under normal conditions.

Last week Carroll complained that she was being treated like "chattel," an obvious shot across the bow of race. Enter Rush.

And Carroll told WBEZ earlier this month that pressure on the trustees to resign stemmed from their decision two years ago to do away with the Chief Illiniwek mascot.

Under that scenario . . . well, I can't even come up with a scenario under which that would be possible.

Montgomery and Carroll are African American, but the other trustees who have already resigned appear to be mostly white. It's not as if Quinn singled out black members of the board.

If this is about race at all, it's about students without connections being denied the special benefits that students with connections have been getting - mostly wealthy, white suburban students. Maybe that's what Rush, Montgomery and Carroll should focus on.

January 2010:

The Dan Hynes ad featuring Harold Washington ripping Pat Quinn could have been offensive in other contexts, but in this case it's effective because what Washington says resonates so clearly with the Quinn we've seen in office over the last year. What's really offensive, though, is Quinn turning to Bobby Rush and - as Eric Zorn describes it - his "deckful of race cards."

*

Memo to Quinn: Putting out an ad calling an opponent desperate is always the act of a desperate man.

January 2010:

And I didn't see Quinn balking at appearing with walking conflict-of-interest and race-monger Bobby Rush - or declining to seek Richard M. Daley's endorsement.

February 2010:

For example, the Tribune has spent a lot of time calling for a revolution at the ballot box, yet it is endorsing the likes of Andy McKenna, Bobby Rush, Dan Lipinski and Deborah Mell. Hello?

"You can skip the election and, once again, give the insiders of Illinois and Cook County free rein to tax, borrow, spend, reward their cronies and generally lord it over you," the Tribune says today. "Or you can clip-and-carry the endorsements on today's Editorial page into the voting booth and rock their world."

Really? Voting for Dan Lipinski will rock the world of hacks, cronies and certified members of Machines and Combines everywhere? Andy McKenna?

[snip]

And maybe the Trib has forgotten Bobby Rush's role in solidifying the seating of Roland Burris as U.S. Senator, which the paper fulminated against for months.

July 2010:

The curious case of Bobby Rush's curiously timed hearing of his own.

"Rush has been leading the charge against net neutrality since 2006, when he cosponsored a telecommunications bill with Texas Republican Joe Barton (lately noted for his defense of BP)," Curtis Black writes. "As Newstips noted at the time, that bill was introduced just before the Sun Times revealed a $1 million donation from SBC and AT&T to a charity founded by Rush."

November 2010:

Both papers endorse hapless race-baiter Bobby Rush. The Green Party candidate is Jeff Adams and the Republican is Ray Wardingley. Adams is preferred, but either would be acceptable as a way to dislodge Rush.

January 2012:

U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez of Chicago have racked up so many absences from the House floor that their voting records are among the worst in Congress," the Tribune reports.

"Rush has missed 13.2 percent of the votes in his congressional career, the fourth-worst record among current House members. Gutierrez has missed 11.6 percent of votes, which ranks him as the seventh-least-frequent voter in the House."

Here's the coup de grace:

"Rush and Gutierrez, both Democrats who entered Congress in 1993, turned down interview requests from the Tribune, leaving the explanations to their staffs."

Maybe they were busy at a get-out-the-vote rally.

*

Congressional votes aren't the end-all be-all, but the Trib does a pretty good job destroying the lame excuses offered by the likes of Rush spokesperson Renee Ferguson, a former local TV reporter who once described her job as "looking to see if there is a larger pattern to a singular event."

*

She also said:

"I may ask the client to shoot (video) undercover for me."

Wow. All sorts of issues there. Then again, perhaps we could ask her to shoot undercover video of where Rush is when he's supposed to be voting.

November 2012:

I don't know what's most aggravating about Bobby Rush, his unholy alliance with the nation's telecoms, his race-baiting grandstanding or his nonsensical hyperbole. Probably it's the fact that there's no evidence he does anything for his district that couldn't be done by a cardboard cutout.

"Rush has one of the safest Democratic districts in the country, and he acts like it," the Tribune says. "He refused to meet with his Republican opponent for an interview with the editorial board." He also has "one of the worst missed-vote records in Congress over the course of his career."

It's time for a change.

August 2013:

"According to the charges, Ben Israel and Turner attempted to persuade undisclosed federal and state government officials - including an Illinois state senator and two U.S. representatives from Chicago - to push for the lifting of the sanctions. The two reached a consulting agreement with Zimbabwe officials to be paid $3.4 million, authorities charged, but it was unclear whether they received any money."

So who was the state senator and who were the U.S. representatives?

[snip]

"The charges also described the two Chicago congressmen as sponsors of a failed 2010 House resolution to end the Zimbabwe sanctions. Congressional records show that the only Illinois congressmen to sponsor that bill were U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, both Chicago Democrats.

[snip]

"In a written response Tuesday night, Rush said he has known Ben Israel for 30 years and called him a small-business man and advocate for Africa and African-American issues. 'This is the first I've heard of this,' he said when asked by the Tribune if he was one of the congressmen referred to in the complaint.

"Rush said he canceled a planned trip to Liberia, Ghana, Angola and South Africa in 2009 because he was ill. He said he did not send four of his staffers in his place but that they went as House committee staffers."

So the major players have been identified.

*

"Though none of the politicians the men approached are named in court papers or is accused of any crime, the complaint makes it clear that U.S. Representatives Danny Davis and Bobby Rush were targeted," the Sun-Times reports.

"Both co-sponsored a 2010 bill that sought a review of the sanctions, which were intended to rein in the fraud, violence, intimidation and vote rigging that Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party have increasingly relied upon."

That would be this Robert Mugabe.

[snip]

Bobby Rush Bonus Item
"U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush defended his role in a controversial South Side rail project Tuesday, saying racially biased reporting unfairly characterized his recommendation that Metra pay $50,000 to a little-known Washington, D.C., group to monitor minority participation," the Tribune reports.

Racially biased reporting like this?

"The congressman said he could not recall who specifically from the rail agency sought his advice.

"Though the announcement remained on the chamber's website as of Tuesday night, Rush accused the Tribune of lying about the partnership.

"I never had a partnership," he said. "I have a working relationship."

Point, set, match, Tribune.

*

"He also called a Tribune reporter 'evil' and accused the newspaper of having a historic bias against the black community dating back to its coverage of the 1969 killings of Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark."

Well, that's partially true in that the Tribune does not have a proud history when it comes to race. But that doesn't account for Rush's sleazy tenure in the United States Congress.

"The congressman accused the newspaper of inaccurately reporting that 25 percent of the project's original bid went to minority-owned firms and met the legal requirement. He insists the true percentage is closer to 3 percent. His number, however, does not factor in women-owned firms, which are designated as disadvantaged business enterprises under federal law and were a significant part of the bid.

"Rush also objected to the Tribune's assertion that neither Metra nor the congressman's office had been monitoring the agreement since Clifford refused to cut the $50,000 check. Both Metra and Rush's spokesman said last week that they weren't scrutinizing the agreement."

Point, set, match, Tribune.

*

Enough. Rush has been propped up - by the likes of AT&T, Quinn and our esteemed editorial boards - long enough. Way past time for him to go.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Trivium at the House of Blues on Sunday night.


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2. Noveller at Schubas on Monday night.

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3. MS MR at the Aragon on Tuesday night.

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4. The Kills at the Vic on Monday night.

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5. Panic! at the Disco at the Aragon on Tuesday night.

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6. Portugal. The Man at the Aragon on Tuesday night.

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7. 30 Seconds to Mars in Rosemont on Wednesday night.

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8. Avril Lavigne at Jingle Ball on the West Side on Monday night.

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9. Paramore at Jingle Ball on Monday night.

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10. Fifth Harmony at Jingle Ball on Monday night.

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11. Icona Pop at Jingle Ball.

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12. Drake feat. Future at the West Side arena on Thursday night.

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13. Devildriver at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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14. Conditions at Reggies on Monday night.

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15. King Krule at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:29 AM | Permalink

The Obamacare Paper Pileup

When HealthCare.gov and some state-run insurance marketplaces ran into trouble with their websites in October and November, they urged consumers to submit paper applications. Now, it's time to process all that paper. And with the deadline to enroll in health plans less than two weeks away, there's growing concern that some of these applications won't be processed in time.

The Associated Press reported last week that federal officials are now advising navigators - groups paid to assist consumers with enrollment - not to use paper applications anymore, if they can help it.

"We received guidance from the feds recommending that folks apply online as opposed to paper," said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Insurance.

After a conference call earlier this week with federal health officials, Illinois health officials sent a memo Thursday to their roughly 1,600 navigators saying there is no way to complete enrollment through a paper application. The memo, which Claffey said was based on guidance from federal officials, said paper applications should be used only if other means aren't available.

Federal health officials also discussed the issue during a conference call Wednesday with navigators and certified counselors in several states.

"They've said do not use paper applications because they won't be able to process them anywhere near in time," said John Foley, attorney and certified counselor for Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, who was on the call.

According to an enrollment report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 83 percent of the 1.8 million applications completed between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30 were filled out online; the rest were on paper. The online figure was higher, 91 percent, in the 14 states running their own health exchanges, compared to 80 percent for HealthCare.gov, which processes enrollments for the other 36 states.

But even outside the federal exchange, paper is proving to be a problem. In recent days, Covered California disclosed ;that it had a backlog of 25,000 paper applications that had to be processed before the Dec. 23 deadline to sign up for coverage that begins Jan. 1. According to an AP report:

The applications came from individuals, insurance agents and health exchange agents who were unable to access the online portal in the first few days after the exchange opened on Oct. 1, said Roy Kennedy, a spokesman for Covered California, the agency that runs the health exchange. He said the agency has been working to process the applications since then.

"We've added additional staff and redirected existing staff to input all the paper applications, so we believe that everyone who properly filled out the application, they will have health insurance on Jan. 1," Kennedy said.

But for people who enrolled through an insurance agent, those workers are only entering basic information such as the applicants' names and the names of the insurance agents, said Neil Crosby, a spokesman for the California Association of Health Underwriters. He said agents are now being alerted to check the Covered California site several times a day to see whether any of their clients' applications need to be added.

In Oregon, a state official disclosed this week that more than 30,000 people who submitted health insurance applications still don't have enrollment packets, the Oregonian reported.

The concession by Dr. Bruce Goldberg, interim director of the state's exchange, raises serious concerns about the state's ability to meet Gov. John Kitzhaber's promise to successfully enroll all Oregonians who need individual insurance Jan. 1.

Of particular concern are the more than 20,000 individuals whose high-risk health insurance plans have no chance of being extended past Dec. 31.

Goldberg, who took over the troubled Cover Oregon exchange last week, said the state's manual processing system hasn't worked through an estimated 65,000 applications as quickly as officials first estimated.

"We thought we'd be further along than we are now," Goldberg said.

In Maryland, another state whose exchange has been plagued by difficulties, 8,500 paper applications were pending as of last week, the Baltimore Sun reported.

And in Vermont, VTDigger reports that paper applications are "piling up."

There is a backlog of 1,210 applications, some of which date back to as early as Oct. 30, [Department for Children and Families] Commissioner Dave Yacovone said.

Paper applications continue to arrive at a pace of approximately 100 per day, and the department needs to process them all by Dec. 23, in order for people's coverage to take effect at the start of 2014.

Editor's Note: This post is adapted from Ornstein's "Healthy buzz" blog. Have you tried signing up for health care coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.

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Previously:
* Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

* How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare.

* Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare.

* Answered: Why Two Obama Loyalists Lost Their Health Policies.

* Health Care Delays Squeeze Patients In State High-Risk Pools.

* Coming In January: Obamacare Rate Shock Part Two.

* The Obamacare Deadline No One Is Talking About.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast

Chicken, tacos and auto insurance.

chickenandtacoplaceorigetc.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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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.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

December 12, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"Despite a 1990 state law requiring that African-American history be taught in public schools, the subject has been taught sporadically in Chicago, often coming up only during Black History Month or to mark the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday," the Tribune reports.

"On Wednesday, Chicago Public Schools unveiled a new curriculum guide that will allow teachers to incorporate African and African-American studies into core subjects throughout the year, bringing the district into compliance with the state requirement, officials said."

The first lesson in the new curriculum should be how the law is applied unevenly when it comes to black people.

*

"CPS officials could not explain why the curriculum had not been implemented previously," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"[E]arlier this year, some activist groups grew frustrated with some of the initial proposals for the curriculum and the slow progress in getting anything adopted. Some even suggested filing a lawsuit against CPS."

*

Charter schools, however, are exempt from the law.

"[T]he whole concept behind charter schools being created was to allow them to choose their own curriculum," Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, told DNAinfo Chicago. "Most, if not all, charter schools in Chicago already offer this type of curriculum."

When pressed for an exact number, he said 19,000.

*

"Others questioned who was allowed to have input into the new curriculum. We Can Inc., a community group, made recommendations earlier this year to the school district about what to include, but as of Wednesday was unsure if any of its input was included.

"'I was allowed to review a draft of the curriculum for one hour, which was not enough time to look through five binders of information,' said the group's president Florence Cox, who became the first black woman to lead the Chicago School Board in 1992. 'I never did see the final draft, so it is hard for me to support something I have not seen. It sounds like a 'shell' game to me.'"

CPS: Chicago Public Shells.

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This Took A Lawsuit
Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough Relents, Will Accept Freedom Of Information Requests Via E-Mail.

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Drone Zone
"Maciek Nowak is an operations management professor and director of the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management program at Loyola University Chicago's Quinlan School of Business," according to the tagline on his Crain's Op-Ed "Amazon's Drones Strike At Heart Of Retail Industry's Biggest Fear."

James Ball is a journalist.

*

Tangentially related:

"Three members of the House Intelligence Committee recently made an unsuccessful attempt to ban so-called 'signature' drone strikes - attacks in which the targets of lethal U.S. actions are identified by their actions rather than as individuals," Politico reports.

"However, the author of the intelligence authorization bill amendment that was voted down, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), told Politico that she plans to continue to press for a stop to such strikes because she views them as morally dubious and counterproductive for the U.S."

*

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Payment Due
The Obamacare Deadline No One Is Talking About.

Chicago's New Doctor Of Jazz
A cultural icon in his own right.

The Proverbial Josh McCown
Just a guy. In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

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Cubs Rebuilding Update

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Just a tip line.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 AM | Permalink

The Proverbial Josh McCown

Thanks, Dallas!

I wish all Bears opponents would utilize the kind of strategy the Cowboys brought to the frozen lakefront.

And by "strategy," I mean use an implausibly successful running game to lull the Bears defense into a false sense of ineptitude, only to unleash a passing attack that consists of nearly a dozen total completions.

A cunning ruse indeed!

But I suppose the 'Boys aren't paying Miles Austin to block for DeMarco Murray; they're paying him to limp through a route as the third option behind Tony Romo overthrowing Dez Bryant and spiking the ball on fourth-and-nine.

And kudos to the Bears franchise for honoring the longest tenured Jew on the roster by effectively giving him a day off for Hanukkah. No need to punt when the ironically named "Big D" visits the "Big C*," Adam Podlesh.

And along those lines, a special thanks to readers of my column on "VintageTenticalCam.biz" for making my film Big D vs. Big C the highest grossing adult-themed fan fiction homage to the late/great Larry Hagman in history. And to all of you vultures viewing it for free on YouPorn . . . you can go on and continue to "F" yourself.

You Guys Are All Completely Out Of Your Goddam Mind
Looks like we've got ourselves a good ol' fashioned quarterback controversy a-brewin' here in the Big Windy C.

Like most of you, I'm very excited about the success that Josh McCown has experienced this year. What I don't understand is the growing movement to hand him the starting job henceforth, in perpetuity, best-ies for life, etc.

Let me see if I can follow along with the rationale here.

Josh McCown has 38 career starts in an 11-year career . . . he's the proverbial "just a guy" who's played some good ball in recent weeks.

McCown: 38% of the time, it works every time.

I'll wait while you dig through stats from the Cardinals, Dolphins, Marvin Ridge High School Footballers and yes, even the Bears to counter that point. Yeah, remember he kinda really sucked when he was the starter at the end of the 2011 season?

Of course you don't! But let's explore that angle.

McCown is having great season because he's never had an opportunity to play with receivers as talented as those on the Bears. Many believe this is an indication that he's just now able to tap into the latent talent that has somehow remained dormant for the majority of his professional career.

It's true that surrounding talent has never been there.

Just like it was true that I never got laid until I moved into house full of nymphomaniacs back in the early aughts.

Congratulations to both of us for cashing in on the available talent when a guy named Jay's ankle got hurt getting run over by a big mean dude.

Lastly, do you remember what this town was like before 2009?

I mean, we all assumed the circumstances that led to Dave Krieg starting under center were related Virginia McCaskey losing a hand in a high-stakes poker game against the villain from Moonraker.

And hey, maybe Steve Walsh could start a playoff game in which the Bears don't get annihilated by the 49ers, who knows!

And they traded for Rick Mirer. AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!

The Bears have a legitimate starting quarterback. Let's not all go grabbing our shovels and bricks to build a bridge to some ridiculous world in which the Bears are running a 34-year-old quarterback out there on purpose.

The Cleveland Browns
No header joke necessary. It's the Browns.

Kool-Aid (4 Out Of 5 Red Solo Cups Filled With Signature Slush)
This is going to be an intriguing game.

Jay Cutler is probably going to start, Jason Campbell will definitely start and it's starting to get old talking about Josh McCown, so we'll just leave him out of this.

A team that's quite a bit more dangerous than their 4-9 record would indicate, the Browns took the Patriots right to the edge last week and then the refs remembered that Tom Brady is to be made a winner whenever possible.

Cleveland has a "meh" offense and the Bears have a defense (raises his voice an octave)?

A Bears win and a Detroit loss equals first place with two to play? Huh?
Yuh-huh.

This could be fun!

Or soul crushing.

Either way, I'll watch and you should too.

Bears 20
Browns 12

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:12 AM | Permalink

Honoring Chicago's New Doctor Of Jazz

"Joe Segal, founder of Chicago's Jazz Showcase, will receive an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, Roosevelt University, on Friday at the Auditorium Theatre," the school has announced.

"A Roosevelt student between 1947 and 1957, Segal, 87, began presenting jazz shows for the enjoyment of all Chicagoans beginning in 1947, and his jam sessions at Roosevelt were known to feature such legendary musicians as Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and many others.

"'Joe Segal, because of his decades-long dedication to the preservation and promotion of jazz in American culture, is a cultural icon in his own right,' said Roosevelt University president Chuck Middleton.

"Segal will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, during the university's commencement ceremony for about 450 students. He will continue to host free performances by singers and musicians in Roosevelt's jazz program at the Showcase during Spring 2014."

*

"After high school, Segal joined the Air Force and was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi," Mike Jeffers wrote for Chicago Jazz in 2011.

"Biloxi was not a hotbed of jazz, but Segal soon met some jazz musicians and started hanging out with them at their gigs. Watching the bands perform at night, then sneaking back onto the base, became a routine. Towards the end of his Air Force career he was stationed in Champaign, Illinois, which made it easy for him to get a weekend pass, hop on a train, and head to Chicago."

*

"He regularly came to Chicago on the weekends to hear the music, and when he left finally left the Air Force he moved to the city, sleeping on a sofa at his uncle's place while attending Roosevelt University on the GI Bill. Roosevelt tried placing out-of-town students in homes with families, and a few months into attending the university, they notified Joe that they had a room for him 'if he wanted it.'

"Segal later found out he was the first white student to be placed with an African American family as an 'experiment.' The experiment would work out in Segal's favor. The family he was placed with lived at 47th and Champlain Avenue, which was just around the corner from 47th and South Park (now Martin Luther King Drive), where the Congo Hotel was located. In the basement of the hotel was a club called the Hole, where you could hear some of the city's top musicians, including Gene Ammons, Junior Mance, Tom Arch and Ike Day. Next to the Congo Hotel was the Savoy Ballroom and the Regal Theater. He soon got to know the manager of the Regal Theater, which enabled him to get into the shows and meet headliners Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt, Sarah Vaughan and many others."

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Joe Segal, 2011.

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Some notable Jazz Showcase performances:

Von Freeman, New Year's Eve 1983

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Mose Allison, 2010

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Art Ensemble of Chicago, 1981.

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The Robert Glasper Trio, 2011

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Terry Gibbs and Buddy DeFranco, 1987.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

Payment Due: The Obamacare Deadline No One Is Talking About

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that nearly 365,000 Americans had signed up for private health insurance under Obamacare. The vast majority came from 14 states running their own insurance exchanges, while 137,000 came by way of HealthCare.gov, the much-faulted federal Web site that handles enrollment for the remaining states.

But amid the rush to enroll as many people as possible by the Dec. 23 deadline, there's a huge caveat that isn't getting much public attention: For coverage to take effect on Jan. 1, enrollees must pay their first month's premium on time. (The deadline varies somewhat by state and by insurer.)

That's slow going, according to consultants and some insurers, raising the prospect that actual enrollment will be far lower than the figures HHS is releasing.

"There is also a lot of worrying going on over people making payments," industry consultant Robert Laszewski wrote in an e-mail. "One client reports only 15% have paid so far. It is still too early to know for sure what this means, but we should expect some enrollment slippage come the payment due date."

Another consultant Kip Piper, agreed. "So far I'm hearing from health plans that around 5% and 10% of consumers who have made it through the data transfer gauntlet have paid first month's premium and therefore truly enrolled," he wrote me.

"It naturally varies by insurer and will hopefully increase as we get close to end of December and documents flow in the mail," added Piper, a former official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "But overall I'm hearing it's a small portion so far. And that, of course, is a fraction of an already comparatively small number of people who have made it through setting up an account, getting verified, subsidy eligibility determined, plan selected, complete and correct data transferred to the insurer, and insurer set out the confirmation with invoice for consumer's share of the first month's premium."

Blue Shield of California said it has sent out thousands of payment request letters.

"Members do not know they need to make their first month's payment until they get this letter. Payments are trickling in and while we expect an uptick over the next week, members have until January 6 to make this payment," spokeswoman Mia Campitelli wrote in an e-mail.

California's deadline is later than most, and consumers need to check for the deadline for the insurance plan they choose. Campitelli said Blue Shield does not have a projection of what percentage of enrollees will pay up by the deadline.

With problems plaguing HealthCare.gov until the end of November, consumers don't have much time to pick plans. Some consumers, on the advice of federal officials, have turned in paper applications - and those are still being processed. That leaves little time to send invoices and process the first month's payment.

Ken Wood, a senior adviser to Covered California, the state's exchange, said it is "too early to tell" what would happen. "Remember that we have 11 different plans with 11 different billing systems - some more flexible than others," he wrote in an e-mail. "Excluding only Christmas Day and New Year's Day, there are only eight business days between the December 23rd cutoff for enrollment and the January 6th deadline for payment."

Wood said the consequences of missing the first payment differs by person.

"The good news for this first open enrollment is that missing a payment deadline just rolls your effective date a month," he wrote. "This is OK for the uninsured but a potential concern for the insured who are rolling over into a compliant plan since they will now have a gap in coverage."

Covered California is promoting "give the gift of health" where a grandparent or parent would pay for the coverage with a debit or credit card. Some enrollees who receive subsidies still have to pay $1 a month for their coverage, "oddly a real billing and collection concern because it is easy to overlook," Wood said - so Covered California is encouraging them to pay $12 for the year and be finished. "The barriers to paying the entire amount are the systems capability of the health insurers," Wood said.

New York's State of Health exchange does not have data on how many enrollees have paid premiums, spokesman James O'Hare said. "In the event that an enrollee does not pay his/her premium, coverage does not go into effect, and they will no longer be enrolled in NY State of Health," he wrote in an e-mail.

James Stover, CEO of University of Arizona Health Plans, said he expects more than 85 percent of enrollees to pay the premium on time. "Right now we're comfortable with the process we have in place," he said. "As soon as we get the information in, we're reaching out to the individuals to let them know what their binder payment is. We'll follow up with them."

Stover said that enrollment has been lower than expected. A couple of weeks ago, only one person had signed up. By early this week, the figure had increased to 35. "We plan to have triple digits in the next couple weeks and greater growth in the next couple months. We initially expected to have somewhere between 5,000 to 6,000 by June 30, 2014."

While saying it is difficult to guess what will happen, Piper said he believes "a plan will be lucky if half of applicants pay first month's premium on time for January coverage start but that perhaps three-quarters will pay in time for coverage start by February or March."

One additional point to keep an eye on: If consumers pay their first month's premium but then stop paying, insurers cannot drop them from their plans for 90 days.

"Under the rule interpreting the law, insurers offering plans on the exchanges must provide a three-month grace period to individuals who have enrolled and who have stopped paying their premiums. In the first 30 days, the insurer must continue to pay incurred claims. But for subscribers who ultimately fail to pay premiums within the 90 days and whose coverage is terminated, payers are not required to pay for claims incurred during the last 60 days of the 90-day period," Modern Healthcare reported in August.

Healthcare providers are nervous that they will be on the hook for services delivered to patients who haven't paid their premiums.

Editor's Note: This post is adapted from Ornstein's "Healthy buzz" blog. Have you tried signing up for health care coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.

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Previously:
* Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

* How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare.

* Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare.

* Answered: Why Two Obama Loyalists Lost Their Health Policies.

* Health Care Delays Squeeze Patients In State High-Risk Pools.

* Coming In January: Obamacare Rate Shock Part Two.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

December 11, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

"A Cook County judge on Tuesday threw out the conviction of a South Side man imprisoned for decades for a 1980s rape, concluding that two of disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge's top lieutenants had tortured him into confessing and then covered up the abuse," the Tribune reports.

"The two former detectives, John Byrne and Peter Dignan, asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when called to testify during a hearing Monday, according to lawyers.

"Wrice had alleged that Byrne and Dignan beat him in the basement of the Area 2 police headquarters on the South Side after his arrest in a brutal gang rape. Byrne hit him with a flashlight, while Dignan struck him with a length of rubber hose, Wrice said."

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"Prosecutors sought to block that hearing in an appeal to the State Supreme Court, claiming that the torture inflicted by Burge's notorious 'Midnight Crew' was 'harmless error,'" Northwestern's Bluhm Legal Clinic notes.

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From the John Conroy/Reader archives:

John Byrne: Has known Burge since childhood and admitted to being his "right-hand man" at Area Two. Accused of cattle prod torture and numerous attacks aimed at genitals. Left CPD after he got his law degree but subsequently disbarred for taking money from clients - including police officers and firefighters - for whom he did no work, an ethical lapse he attributes to clinical depression. He collects a police pension and works as a private investigator.

Peter Dignan: Accused of torture, often with John Byrne. Named in 17 of the [Peoples Law Office's] list of 105 cases, accused of mock execution, electrical torture, suffocation, and beatings with flashlights and phone books. Promoted to lieutenant by Superintendent Terry Hillard in 1998 despite being named a "player" in an internal police investigation of torture in 1990. Retired, pension intact, from the force, he now works for the Cook County sheriff.

According to the Sun-Times, Dignan now works as a "security supervisor."

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Previously:

"Former Mayor Richard Daley won't have to testify at a hearing next month for a longtime inmate who alleges he was tortured into confessing to a 1982 rape, a Cook County judge ruled Wednesday," the Tribune reported last month.

"Attorneys for Stanley Wrice wanted to call Daley to testify about his knowledge of allegations of torture under disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge while Daley was state's attorney in the 1980s. Wrice, 59, is seeking to overturn his conviction for taking part in the gang rape of a woman, saying he falsely confessed after being tortured by two detectives working under Burge."

From Conroy:

"Richard M. Daley: More than 50 men alleged that they were tortured by Burge and his detectives during Daley's term as Cook County state's attorney, from 1981 to 1989. He was put on notice several times, most dramatically in the case of Andrew Wilson. Photographs of Wilson's stitches, burns, and alligator-clip wounds made compelling evidence in court, underlined by [assistant state's attorney Lawrence] Hyman's failure to ask if Wilson had given his statement voluntarily. Received copy of letter from Dr. John Raba, who as medical director of Cermak Hospital examined Wilson's injuries, urging police superintendent Richard Brzeczek to investigate. Brzeczek told Daley he had promised to investigate all cases of police brutality but did not want to jeopardize Wilson's prosecution and asked for guidance. Daley sent no reply."

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Pension Richness
"Despite bipartisan acknowledgement that state workers as well as K-12 teachers and higher education employees are not responsible for Illinois' pension problems, a bare majority of members of the General Assembly have decided they have to strip those employees of promised income to save the retirement plan. The previous plan, they said, was 'too rich' for the citizens of the state," University of Illinois labor professor Bob Bruno writes to the Sun-Times.

"Another barely hidden way of thinking about the cost claim is that advocates of the recent change believe that Illinois' public employees are 'overpaid.' But are Illinois' future and current pensioners really overpaid? In a 2013 study (Working in Illinois' Public Interest) my colleague Frank Manzo and I attempted to answer the cost-benefit question. Drawing from the study's pension findings reveals that despite the cacophony of claims about Illinois' unfunded liability something essential has been missed."

I can't tell you anything more about Bruno's letter because it's behind the Sun-Times's new crappy-ass paywall, but I can go directly to Bruno and Manzo's study. I'll go right to the conclusion.

"When accounting for an array of factors, assertions that state and local government workers in Illinois are 'overpaid' are not sustained. Illinois state and local government employees are much more highly educated than their counterparts in the private sector and, with less job turnover, acquire more job-specific human capital skills. It is therefore reasonable for economists, researchers, policymakers, and taxpayers to expect Illinois public servants to be compensated more on average than private sector workers.

"However, when controlling for education and other demographic factors, an apples-to-apples comparison shows that state and local government workers actually earn lower salaries than their private sector counterparts.

"As a matter of fairness, state and local government employment in Illinois is also more equitable across income and socioeconomic characteristics than working in the private sector.

"Comparisons to state and local government employees in other states also largely refute claims that Illinois state and local government employees are overpaid.

"On pensions, mismanagement by state officials and politicians has created an insecure environment. It is clear, though, that Illinois state and local government sector workers do not inherently fare better than their counterparts in other states.

"Additionally, while Illinois state government employees do earn more in health benefits than those in comparable states, this difference can be attributed to lower income from wages and salaries in Illinois than in those states (i.e., the composition of how Illinois public sector workers are paid is simply different than other states).

"It is also noteworthy that when compared to private unionized industries and occupations in Illinois, the health benefits' premium for Illinois state workers is less advantageous.

"Finally, state and local government employment and retirement payments provide large contributions to the Illinois economy. About one-sixth of the Illinois economy is driven by expenditures made by active state and local government workers and state pension recipients.

"Nearly two-fifths of the jobs in Illinois are attributed to expenditures made to public sector workers, including over 300,000 private sector jobs, or 6 percent of all private sector jobs.

"While there has been a lot of commentary about the impact of Illinois' public workforce on the state's fiscal health, this report concurs with a growing body of research which rejects the notion that state and local government employees are overcompensated for equal work.

"State and local government workers provide substantial measured and unmeasured benefits to the residents of Illinois, are not obviously better off than their counterparts, and in general face a wage and salary penalty by working in the public sector.

"Ultimately, Illinois public servants earn an average compensation package expected for a highly-educated workforce in a high-wage state."

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One of the problems public-sector workers face is that their image is defined by corrupt pols, bungling bureaucrats and the proverbial long lines at the DMV and similar offices - which could be eliminated by investment in additional staff and technology. But the public sector is comprised of far, far more than just that thin slice of the workforce.

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Does that mean the public sector doesn't really suck after all? No. It just means it only sucks as much as the private sector.

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I received the following e-mail from a reader last week:

"If I am reading this information correctly, it seems as though the pensions mentioned are more than equal to the current salaries of the individuals. I read of a school teacher receiving $48,000/year for their pension. I thought when a person retired they could expect to live off of less than75% of their salary. If these figures are correct I wish I had moved to Illinois much sooner. I would be rolling in dough."

My reply:

"First, this was money negotiated for just like other employee contracts and guaranteed by the state constitution. Part of this fight is to preserve the sanctity of collective bargaining and to reinforce the notion that, in a nation of law, contracts matter. As it stands now in America, contracts are used to handcuff ordinary people but essentially meaningless to corporations with hordes of lawyers who can always reinterpret to get what they want. Beyond that, the CEOs seeking taxpayer subsidies have much richer "retirement" packages - by magnitudes - and while only some of that money can be traced directly to taxpayers, utlimately we all pay for it anyway.

"Second, there are examples that seem to be quite generous, as you note. There are also examples that aren't. And the money grows because it's invested - just like a 401(k).

"Third, the new bill has factors like increasing the retirement age. That's pretty big.

"Fourth, I just find it odd that because so many others have had their retirement funds wiped out by Wall Street and/or severely downsized by Corporate America that we want to therefore punish those who still have pensions so we can make them less financially secure too. The goal should be to make us all more financially secure, and make sure people can live decently in retirement.

"Finally, I have no problem with public employees securing a middle-class and even upper middle-class existence from which to raise their families and contribute to society. It's one of the few ways civil service can be an attractive job opportunity, and certainly the best workers could make much more in the private sector.

"So I reserve my anger at the upper reaches of the income ladder who are basically shitting on everyone else."

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Finally, as a few others have pointed out, the language in the state Constitution that is now front-and-center was added precisely to prevent pensions from being underfunded and creating this exact mess! Now legislators who ignored the law want to reinterpret that clause in order to make up for their wrongdoing? It's madness.

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"If this thing is declared unconstitutional and there's no immediate 'Plan B' on the table, the bond houses are gonna freak, as S&P made perfectly clear today," Rich Miller writes on his Capitol Fax blog.

"Of course, we could've had a 'Plan B' measure included in the pension bill, as Senate President John Cullerton agreed to do well over a year ago. But Speaker Madigan, the Chicago newspaper editorial boards and the Civic Committee were all against that idea. I'll never fully understand why, either."

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See also: Bad News, Illinois: Pension Deal Didn't Actually Solve Anything.

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Our Nobel-Winning Arms Exporter-In-Chief
Choosing commerce over human rights and transparency.

Ask R. Kelly
Trapped on Twitter.

Tinley Park Blows 16 And Pregnant Opportunity
A teaching moment missed.

Shelter In Place
Homeless on the North Side.

Rise Of The Anti-Cutler
In Fantasy Fix.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: In place.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink

Tinley Park Blows 16 And Pregnant Opportunity

"MTV's controversial show 16 and Pregnant [link mine] is unwelcome in Tinley Park, as village officials and school leaders have pushed back against possible filming in the community," the Tribune reports.

"When Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki heard the show might be shooting at the 80th Avenue train station's restaurant, he sent word to the owner of Parmesans Station that the show's cameras would be unwelcome on Tinley property.

"I heard wind of it, and that's when I went and said, 'I don't want any of our village buildings used in it," Zabrocki said.

Memo to Zabrocki: Village buildings are public property.

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"Michael Papandrea, who licenses space at the train station from Tinley Park and owns a separate Parmesans location in Frankfort, said MTV filmed a dinner segment between the teen and her mother at the restaurant's Frankfort location.

"When he was approached about filming at his restaurant, Papandrea said he had the same initial reaction as Zabrocki.

"But he changed his mind after giving the matter further consideration, reasoning that the show has a positive effect on teenage pregnancies, he said."

Good for Papandrea. I occasionally watch the show and each time I do it makes me think that the last thing I'd want as a teenager is to become pregnant. The challenges are enormous, which is made quite clear, and the kids are in no way ready to have children. Yet, some of them do and we watch them cope as best they can. It's the real deal.

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"In 2010, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that most teens 'agree that when a TV show or character they like deals with teen pregnancy, it makes them think more about their own risk of getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy and how to avoid it.'

"Zabrocki said he has only ever watched part of one episode, featuring a mother arguing with her daughter about baby sitting the grandchild."

Memo to Zabrocki: Not good enough. Inform your views.

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"For Zabrocki, who worked for many years as a guidance counselor at Brother Rice High School, the show presents 'a bad image.'

"I think (it) glamorizes 16 and pregnant, and I don't think there's anything glamorous about it," Zabrocki said.

He said after watching part of a single episode.

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"I have never seen the show, does it glorify teen pregnancy or does it show the ramifications and hardships?" Tribune commenter Ron Williams writes. "Does it promote getting pregnant or NOT to get pregnant? Seems to me these folks want to ban anything they aren't comfortable talking about."

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"I don't think it glamorizes teen pregnancy, at all," Tribune commenter James Ess writes. "I think it shows how extremely difficult it is and how virtually NONE of the teen dads show much maturity or responsibility to be a father at that age. pretty much all of the situations end up horribly. I don't see how anyone would think teen pregnancy would be a good idea after watching this show. If I had a teen, I'd sit and watch it with them. It's quite a reality check."

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Instead, Zabrocki and Andrew High School principal Bob Nolting turned MTV away. It could have been a teaching moment, no?

"Nolting said his wife enjoys the show and he has watched it with her, but he isn't a fan of the reality television genre.

"I don't think it reflects a real world context as much as the term 'reality TV' conveys," Nolting said.

That, too, could have been part of the lesson. A huge missed opportunity for the teens of Tinley Park and beyond.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:29 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Rise Of The Anti-Cutler

In a week when many fantasy football leagues opened their playoff slates, wintry weather had a major effect on almost every game played. The result: Probably more than a few top seeds suffered upsets.

If you were a winner, you very likely had one of the following surprise Week 14 stars on your team. Can you continue to count on them in Week 15?

Josh McCown, QB, BEARS: This story keeps getting better. With 348 yards passing and five total TDs on Monday Night Football, the anti-Cutler now has 13 TDs to 1 INT overall, and is giving the Bears little reason to rush Jay Cutler back for Week 15 (There is a real chance Cutler to could come back this week, but more likely next week)/ The bad news is the Cleveland defense he faces this week is pretty tough against the pass, but I would still call him a top five QB for this week, assuming I'm right about Cutler.

Marques Colston, WR, NO: You know it's a weird week when the most inconsistent WR 1 in fantasy football comes up with 125 yards receiving and two TDs. This week he goes up against a middling Rams secondary, but as always, it's hard to predict who gets Drew Brees'a second-choice throws after TE Jimmy Graham.

Marcel Reece, RB, OAK: Thought to be a fantasy sleeper this year, he only got his chance after Rashad Jennings suffered a concussion. He responded with 123 yards rushing and a TD against an NYJ defense that has been one of the toughest against the run this year. Unfortunately for him, Jennings is probably going to be back for Week 15.

Joique Bell, RB, DET: The most damaging move of the week to many fantasy teams likely was the very late scratch of Reggie Bush, RB, DET - a decision probably driven by the terrible weather in Philadelphia. Bell had little trouble in the snow, with 69 yards rushing, 58 yards receiving and a TD. If you handcuffed Bell and Bush, and were paying close attention, good for you. Hold onto Bell this week until we hear for sure Bush will start against Baltimore.

Cordarelle Patterson, WR, MIN: He has gradually been building up a his resume this year while the rest of the Vikings team has been crumbling around him. In Week 14, he had 111 yards receiving and a TD, along with more than 100 return yards and even six yards rushing. With his versatility, Patterson could be poised for an even bigger game in Week 15 against a Philadelphia defense that has given up the most fantasy points to WRs.

Expert Wire
* SI.com muses on what to do about Adrian Peterson, who may or may not start Week 15.

* Bleacher Report eyes Week 15 sleepers.

* SB Nation likes Patterson as a hot waiver wire pick-up.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:35 AM | Permalink

Shelter in Place

My aim with each of these images, taken at the North Side Housing and Supportive Services Shelter in August, is to introduce my audience and Chicago to members of our community who are experiencing homelessness. I feel it is important to stress the individuality of each of these men who have unique experiences and stories to share. Each photograph represents the community that exists among these men, who, in turn, exist as a marginalized group in our society.

Tattoos.jpg(Enlarge)

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conversations.jpg(Enlarge)

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The message.jpg(Enlarge)

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the ring, my posession.jpg(Enlarge)

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lockers.jpg(Enlarge)

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poses #1.jpg(Enlarge)

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the dancer #1.jpg(Enlarge)

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Veterine.jpg(Enlarge)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

December 10, 2013

Ask R. Kelly

Whose brilliant idea was this?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 PM | Permalink

Congress Wants More Scrutiny Of New Arms Export Rules - And Obama Doesn't

As ProPublica reported this fall, the Obama administration is rolling back limits on some U.S. arms exports. Experts are concerned that the changes could result in military parts flowing more freely to the world's conflict zones, and that arms sanctions against Iran and other countries will be harder to enforce.

Now, some in Congress are seeking to add back some oversight mechanisms lost in the overhaul - over opposition from the administration.

As part of the administration's larger changes to what many view as an antiquated arms export system, thousands of military items have moved out from under the State Department's long-standing oversight to the looser controls of the Commerce Department.

Commerce Department officials have said that, as a matter of policy, they will continue human rights vetting of recipient countries and reporting big sales to Congress, things the State Department was legally required to do.

A bill introduced in the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month would add back those and other legal requirements for many military items moving to Commerce control.

The bill is intended to "preserve Congressional oversight of arms transfers as the administration implements its Export Control Reform Initiative," said Daniel Harsha, a spokesman for the committee.

While administration officials declined to comment on the pending legislation, they have quietly resisted it.

"They've opposed it because they don't think it's necessary," said Colby Goodman, a consultant to the Open Society Policy Center who was formerly with the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs. (Open Society provides funding to ProPublica.) "The administration appears to prefer having human rights vetting in policy only. Unfortunately, this stance makes it easier for the administration to ignore such vetting when it suits them."

Brandt Pasco, a lawyer who helped craft the overall export changes, said Congress may be overreacting. "Most of what's being transferred over, the reason it was being moved to the Commerce system was that it was not seen as being enormously sensitive," said Pasco, who added that the human rights requirement risked creating "needless bureaucracy" for unimportant items.

The Senate is also considering legislation in response to the changes, though its approach may have less practical effect than that of the House.

The president decides what stays on the State Department's control list, and the current standard is items that provide a critical military advantage to the U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has put forward an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that lays out broader criteria for the president's decision.

The amendment says that the State Department should continue to have tighter control over exports of equipment that could provide "substantial military or intelligence capability" to the foes of the U.S. or its allies.

Brittany Benowitz, who was a defense adviser to former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., and is the co-author of a paper on the export changes, said that the administration's standard was too narrow. "The export control criteria are focused on sophisticated technologies that foreign militaries are trying to obtain, but in this day and age, the U.S. faces threats from not-so-sophisticated, often non-state actors," she said.

The amendment, however, ultimately leaves the decision to move equipment off the State Department's list to the president's judgment.

"If what the administration is saying is true, that the reform is moving relatively minor parts and components [to Commerce], then they shouldn't have a problem with the amendment," said Goodman, the Open Society consultant.

The approach of both the House and Senate line up with recommendations made by the American Bar Association's Center for Human Rights in a white paper published in January, which called on Congress to patch regulatory gaps opened up by the shift to Commerce.

The immediate future of either effort isn't clear, given the packed legislative agenda squeezed into the end of the year.

The administration has said its changes to arms export rules are a necessary update to an outdated oversight system. By loosening controls on "items that pose a low risk to national security," officials at the State and Commerce Departments told ProPublica, the government can "improve its ability to safeguard those items that most require protection."

Defense manufacturers have pushed for the rule changes, which they believe will boost their competitiveness overseas. The Defense Department has also said that the changes will make it easier to equip allies.

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Previously:
* Obama Administration Helped Kill Transparency Push On Military Aid.

* In Big Win For Defense Industry, Obama Rolls Back Limits On Arms Exports.

* Congressional Compromise On Transparency Leaves Obama's Military Aid In Shadows.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:51 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"McCown is going to get paid in the off-season," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes in SportsTuesday: McCown Clowns Cowboys.

"The soon-to-be-former back-up will get a shot at starting somewhere in the NFL. The consensus among the 'experts' in Chicago has been that the Bears' first priority was taking care of Cutler's contract. The thought has been that he should have the first shot at running this offense in 2014, even if the team had to franchise him and pay him $16 million in the process.

"Surely even the most simple-minded of analysts have to now be thinking that isn't necessarily the case. Here is another fascinating fact: Did you know that at 33, Tony Romo, who earlier this year signed a whopping $108 million contract extension with the Cowboys, is all of one year younger than McCown? If I am McCown's agent, I play the tape of the highlights of last night's win for any and all interested teams when negotiations begin in a few months. On a brutally cold night in Chicago, McCown was considerably better than the $108 million man."

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Josh McCown is 34. Mark Prior just retired at 33.

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Just heard on The Score that in weather like they played in at Soldier Field last night, the team keeps chicken broth on the sideline because it contains electrolytes - it's the cold-weather Gatorade, which is unusable because it freezes. Also: hot chocolate for the carbs.

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Dear NFL: Why schedule night games in Chicago in December? Day games, sure. We gotta play 'em. But this one didn't make sense.

Owl City
"In what is becoming a common sojourn to the Chicago area, once-elusive snowy owls have been seen at Montrose Harbor and other spots along the shores of Lake Michigan, delighting birders eager to see this beautiful raptor that typically stays close to its Arctic home," Steve Mills writes for the Tribune.

"Ornithologists and local birders say snowy owls have been spotted in greater numbers than in past years, both along the lakeshore and in inland counties across northern Illinois. This 'irruption,' as birders refer to the migration south, suggests the owls' diet of small rodents might be in short supply in the Arctic."

Well, they've come to the right place!

CTA PU
"The quick spot-cleaning that CTA rail cars receive when trains pull into terminals in the mornings and afternoons will be eliminated at the end of the year, the transit agency and its rail workers union said Monday," Jon Hilkevitch reports for the Tribune.

"The CTA has not budgeted for new positions to replace ex-offenders whom the CTA has employed as part-time apprentices since 2007 to clean rail cars and buses, said Robert Kelly, president of Local 308 of the Amalgamated Transit Union. The ex-offenders program will end Dec. 31, the CTA and the union said last week.

"The union said trains will be cleaned only on the midnight shifts starting at the first of the year, because the CTA said it is eliminating all morning and midafternoon jobs for car-servicer positions."

Can snowy owls do the job?

Rahm's Word Not His Bond
"With holiday shopping well underway, aldermen representing some of the busiest retail strips in the city still are waiting for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to keep the promise he made to allow certain wards to retain paid metered parking on Sundays," The Expired Meter reports.

"[Ald. Scott] Waguespack said city attorney Stephen Patton has assured him that the city would draft an ordinance to bring back paid Sundays meters to his ward, but he's still skeptical.

"Even though the city's attorney has said he'd do it, I think they're going to ignore it because they think the deal will just go away," Waguespack said. "But it's never going away. You've created a problem that will never go away."

"Waguespack added that changing the Sunday parking deal in some wards would open the revised deal to unwelcome scrutiny and perhaps unearth unforeseen weaknesses in the renegotiated lease.

"I don't think they want to hurt the deal they cut. If they don't do 'free Sundays' it undermines the flawed analysis that Sundays aren't free and it doesn't work," Wauguespack said, referring to the trade-off the city made with the parking meter firm for free Sundays in exchange for extending hours of enforcement in River North.

"The city did not return multiple requests for comment on the issue."

Maybe the city's spokespeople were too busy running outside to feed the meter.

Transfer Of Wealth
"Sysco Corp.'s $8.2 billion takeover of Rosemont-based U.S. Foods provides a big profit for its private-equity owners," Danny Ecker reports for Crain's. "But some employees likely will pay with their jobs."

Meet Michigan's Santa School
The School of Yule.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hos before bros.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

Meet Michigan's Santa School

Here comes Santa Claus. And another. And another. More than 100 Kris Kringles attended Santa school in Michigan learning tricks of the trade including makeup application, wardrobe, and reindeer care during the three-day seminar.


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See also: The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School.

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And:
* Washington Post: The School Of Yule.

* New York Times: Santa's Helper.

* Time: Michigan's Santa Claus Boot Camp Graduates Its 75th Class Of St. Nicks.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:23 AM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: McCown Clowns Cowboys

Hey Jay Cutler, let's be clear about one thing. You need to be perfectly healthy if you are going to return to the Bear lineup. It won't a problem if Josh McCown goes back to the bench if a 100 percent fully recovered starting quarterback is replacing him.
But that guy who took the field against the Lions a few weeks ago? The one who wasn't completely healthy at the start of the game and then got worse as the contest went on, especially from the start of the second half on? We better not see that guy again this season after McCown, who had been very good so far during his run replacing Cutler, was great against the Cowboys in a 45-28 win last night.

In becoming the first Bears quarterback since Jack Concannon in 1970 to pass for four touchdowns and run for a fifth, McCown posted his seventh (7!) consecutive 90.0-plus single-game quarterback rating. Plain and simple: Cutler has never put together a streak like that.

McCown is going to get paid in the off-season. The soon-to-be-former back-up will get a shot at starting somewhere in the NFL. The consensus among the "experts" in Chicago has been that the Bears' first priority was taking care of Cutler's contract. The thought has been that he should have the first shot at running this offense in 2014, even if the team had to franchise him and pay him $16 million in the process.

Surely even the most simple-minded of analysts have to now be thinking that isn't necessarily the case. Here is another fascinating fact: Did you know that at 33, Tony Romo, who earlier this year signed a whopping $108 million contract extension with the Cowboys, is all of one year younger than McCown? If I am McCown's agent, I play the tape of the highlights of last night's win for any and all interested teams when negotiations begin in a few months. On a brutally cold night in Chicago, McCown was considerably better than the $108 million man.

Cutler is 30, by the way. And Rich Gannon was 36 when he began his run with Trestman as his coach with the Raiders at the turn of the millennium, a run that was capped off by a Most Valuable Player award and a Super Bowl berth in 2002.

Of course the system is partly, if not mostly, the thing. And in terms of future contract negotiations, that in itself is exciting. It certainly seems as though when negotiations begin, Bears general manager Phil Emery talks to Cutler and McCown on the same day and points out that it is worth millions for a quarterback to have a chance to play for the quarterback guru. Which guy will sign a discounted contract first?

As for the rest of the offense . . . Alshon Jeffery! Enough said. Brandon Marshall! Another 100-yard receiving game puts him over 1,000 yards on the season for the seventh time in his career. And if that wasn't enough, there was Earl Bennett (!) proving the last few weeks that he can carve out an important role in the passing game even if he isn't quite big enough to be one of the new Monsters of the Midway like the first two and tight end Martellus Bennett.

A quick additional note about Marshall, who is a beautifully multi-faceted football player. He did a great job blocking downfield all game long and he also made a great play tipping away a potential interception early in the second half.

And about Jeffrey and more importantly, the man who drafted him, Phil Emery. Hey Phil, it seems clear you still feel the need to defend 2012 first-round draft pick Shea McClellin as being a better defensive end than people think, even though McClellin fails the eye test week after week. But given how you nailed the second pick (Jeffery) in that draft, perhaps you should cut yourself a little more slack. Who cares who you took in the first round when you took the most exciting receiver in Bears history in the second?

(The only downside to Jeffery isn't even his fault. The Bears' worst offensive play of the evening bar none was the reverse to Jeffrey that lost seven yards in the first half. Coach Trestman, can we please, please put that play away for at least a few weeks?)

The second half was the way it is going to be with the Bears with this coach, which is different than it has ever been in my 40 years of fandom. If the short-handed Cowboys were going to keep moving an eighth man into the box to stymie the Bears rushing game, the Bears were going to keep passing, even if they had a big lead and could almost certainly just keep running the football and eventually run out the clock.

They were going to keep doing so even after several near-interceptions. And just when I was ready to say, "Just run the ball every time already and punt if you have to," McCown completes one to Earl Bennett to convert yet another third-and-huge.

Other than never punting and never committing a turnover (thanks Cowboy cornerback Brandon Carr for that well-timed defensive holding!) . . . all in all a routine outing for a Bears offense.

As for the defense, well, it still stinks but the Cowboy D stinks way worse. Will the Bears rookie linebackers ever start to achieve even a tiny bit of competence? From the first play, when Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene and veteran James Anderson all over-ran the hole as DeMarco Murray slashed forward for one of his many double-digit gains, it was another brutal night for the guys with numbers in the 50s.

Then again, the D did achieve a huge three-and-out stop after the Cowboys took advantage of a Bears coverage breakdown to return a kickoff past midfield to start their first possession of the second half. After the resulting punt, the Bears drove 90 yards down the field, running eight or nine minutes off the clock and eventually scoring the absolute back-breaking touchdown to lead 34-14.

And finally, regarding Mike Ditka: It became a little weird in the last few decades, when it became clear that the coach was willing to put his name on anything - from virility pills to jewelry - if it meant he could make another buck. But the guy has simply personified what the team and the city aspire to for a ridiculously long time.

If the capper to Ditka's halftime speech - the "Go Bears!" - didn't stir the soul of a Bears fan, he or she must be dead, or at least frozen solid.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

December 9, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"Xadrian R. McCraven has a criminal history that includes 'at least' 24 arrests on charges including arson, illegal gun possession, attempted robbery, drug possession and aggravated assault, according to federal court records," the Sun-Times reports.

"He's also an Illinois state prison official. On the job since July 1, he makes $110,000 a year as an administrator with the Illinois Department of Corrections, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times."

Seems like he should be running for county board.

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"McCraven , 44, who lives in Chicago, pleaded guilty to a weapons charge in 1989 and was found guilty of reckless conduct in 1998 in connection with a domestic-battery arrest, records show.

"He was fired last year from another state job, with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, but reached a settlement with the child-welfare agency earlier this year that rescinded his firing, awarded him back pay and called for him to be transferred from DCFS to an administrative job with the state prison system.

"He's now a senior policy adviser to the agency's chief of parole, doing audits "of the implementation of policy, facilities use and management and job performance," Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer says.

Many of us believe in second, third and even fourth chances. And the man needs a job. But geez, 25?

"Before working in state government, the 1992 graduate of Northeastern Illinois University wanted to be a police officer. He applied to become a Chicago cop in 1993 but was rejected because of his criminal history, records show . . . the police department background investigation found McCraven was known 'to be a drug dealer, gang member and supplier of guns to other gang members.'

"In 1987, McCraven was convicted of disorderly conduct, and he pleaded guilty in 1989 to illegal possession of a handgun . . . In 1994, McCraven began working as an officer for the Chicago Housing Authority Police Department. Then, in 1998, he was charged with domestic battery, accused of assaulting his former fiancee, and was found guilty of reckless conduct . . .

"McCraven was fired by the CHA in August 1999 for 'violating department general orders forbidding unjustified physical attacks on or off duty' and bringing discredit on the department . . . In 2000, McCraven went to work for DCFS as a child-protection worker."

Okay, a clear pattern exists. What gives?

"In 2003, his name appeared in a once-secret database of thousands of politically connected candidates for jobs, transfers or promotions that was kept by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration, records show."

Aha! Chicago gives. We should have all seen that one coming.

"McCraven has made $1,000 in campaign contributions in the past three years to elected officials including state Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago), state Sen. William Delgado (D-Chicago), Cook County Commissioner Edwin Reyes (D-Chicago) and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.).

"McCraven left DCFS in 2003 for a job as executive assistant to the director of the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, according to his resume.

"Fernando E. Grillo, that agency's director at the time, was listed as McCraven 's political sponsor for an IDPR job, according to the Blagojevich database, which misspelled McCraven 's last name as 'McGraven.'

"Grillo says he doesn't remember sponsoring McCraven for a job but says he'd met McCraven years before through his involvement in community groups, including a church group in Humboldt Park.

"I knew Xadrian," Grillo says. "He came in and out of my life in different decades. He never had any negative issues at all when he was working with me."

"McCraven left state government in 2004 and started a development company, records show. In June 2007, DCFS rehired him as a public service administrator.

"He made about $103,000 at DCFS in 2011, the last full year he worked for the agency.

"In March 2012, he was fired after DCFS officials investigated allegations of unspecified 'misconduct' against him, according to a wrongful-termination lawsuit McCraven filed. He dropped the suit in April, two months before DCFS agreed to reverse his firing.

"On June 17, McCraven agreed to accept a 10-day suspension, and he got six months of back pay and the transfer to the Department of Corrections."

Wow. You've got to hand it to the guy - he's nothing if not persistent.

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While with the CHA police in 1999, McCraven wrote this letter to the Sun-Times:

Mayor Daley's decision to name Philip Jackson as the new CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority is an excellent one. Equally laudable is his decision to name Chicago Police Gang Crimes Cmdr. Harvey Radney as the new head of the CHA Police Department. Both represent what the CHA Police was created for: improving the safety of CHA residents.

What I and many others do not agree with the is the labeling of the CHA Police Department as "notoriously incompetent" (editorial, June 1). CHA police officers are graduates of the Chicago Police Department's training academy. We have an identical training course, and identical police powers. What we have lacked is an identical quality of supervision.

The CHA patrolman does not make long-term strategic planning for the police department, and does not have a say in the allocation of manpower and funding. These decisions are made by the chief of police and supervisors, most of whom are retired police department personnel. Many were never supervisors with the police department, and could care less about the CHA Police Department other than it being a good place for them to pick up an extra paycheck to go along with their pension checks.

Currently, the CHA police operate off a different police band or zone than CPD. This must change. CHA and CPD police routinely show up for the same calls, tying up available units for other emergencies.

Finally, a decision has to be made on whether this department will remain in place. CHA police officers would like to have some indication of what the future may bring. We've put our lives on the line, and we deserve it.

Nicely done. He was fired two months later.

The New Old Blue
"Although CTA is promising faster trains when the latest round of renovations to the Blue Line are complete, they will not be as fast as riders were promised a few years ago" CBS2 Chicago reported over the weekend.

"In July 2007, then-CTA President Ron Huberman promised Blue Line O'Hare branch riders 70 m.p.h. top speeds.

"Fifteen months from now, we should see tracks restored to the 70 m.p.h. standard so that we can make the Blue Line hum as quickly as possible," Huberman said at the time.

"That round of slow zone repairs failed to hold up, and the 70 mph promise went unfulfilled.

"Now, CTA President Forrest Claypool has said, 70 mph is not in the cards for the O'Hare line.

"What we're shooting here for is consistent, reliable 55 m.p.h. trains on our system," he said Thursday.

Oddly, CBS reports that "Although all CTA trains in service today are capable of 70 mph operation, CTA limits them to 55 mph."

Which begs the questions: Were they always capable of going 70? Or did the CTA fulfill its promise after all and then decide not to implement it?

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Mmmm, 70 mph . . .

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See also the item Blue Line Hooey.

NSA Spied On Gamers
World of Warcraft more real than they knew.

Dizzy Grant Dribbles Chicago
No green screens used.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Charles Bradley, Hotlips Messiah, Vic Mensa, Protest The Hero, Rubblebucket, Pokey LaFarge, Booker T. Jones, Soil, The White Panda, and Reverend Ruin.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Our city of ruins.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:28 AM | Permalink

Dizzy Grant Dribbles Chicago

No green screens were used - it's the real deal!

The Globetrotters - founded in Chicago by Abe Saperstein in 1926 - will play two games in Rosemont on Friday, Dec. 27, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.


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See also: The Harlem Globetrotters YouTube channel.

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And: Biography's History of the Globetrotters.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Charles Bradley at the Metro on Friday night.


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2. Hotlips Messiah at Junior's on Saturday night.

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3. Vic Mensa feat. Rockie Fresh at Reggies on Saturday night.

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4. Protest The Hero at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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5. Rubblebucket at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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6. Pokey LaFarge at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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7.Booker T. Jones at SPACE in Evanston on Friday night.

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8. Soil at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

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9. The White Panda at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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10. Reverend Ruin at Quenchers on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:14 AM | Permalink

December 7, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Politician lies. Details at 10.

Special Weather Report
Basically, you have a choice: go outside and get hit in the face by extreme cold or stay home and get bit in the ass by your extremist friends.

STOOPES Academy
You'd think with 49 fewer buildings CPS would have an easier time finding an eighth of their elementary students. Perhaps, if they look really hard, they could find an extra $20 million in questionable spending to throw at the problem.

Dramatic Improvements
Hey, who knew Sebelius was Finnish for Forrest Claypool?

Globalization Amok
Wow, they buried the lede in this one. Apparently, France is now neighbors with Ecuador and Honduras!

Talk like a Man
Finally this week, a new study reveals that many young men are now "uptalking" like little girls. Which is refreshing, since men have been talking down to girls for centuries.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Bury your lede.

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The College Football Report: The Worst Best Rankings.

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The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: How 'Bout Them Cowboys.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg present the Best Albums of 2013, and they hear nominations from guest critics in the listening audience."

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Give The Gift Of The Beachwood: We'll even wash your car.

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The Renegade Craft Fair Weekend Report: "Join us December 7 + 8 for the 8th Annual Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market in Chicago! This free-to-attend fair will take place from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. both days at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse (1419 West Blackhawk Street).

"We'll be presenting a curated collection of 150+ of today's best and brightest indie makers, take a peek at this year's artist lineup.

"The Chicago Holiday Market is always an especially festive affair: a design and DIY spectacular in one of Chicago's most charming venues. Attendees are encouraged to take part in free craft workshops, hosted by Martha Stewart Living and RX Made.

"The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse will be decked out with festive installations from Amanda Walters, Michelle Weed, and zerobird studio.

"Visitors are invited to take a photo to commemorate their indie shopping experience in the free photo booth provided by Magnolia Photobooth Co.

"Local DJs from Dusty Groove, Reckless Records, and CHIRP Radio will be playing all our favorite music to keep the atmosphere lively all weekend long.

"Need directions? Want to know more about Renegade? Check out our Chicago Holiday Market FAQ for answers to all your questions."

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Editor's Note: Our good friends at the Flying Saucer will once again be serving up hot chocolate, chili and sandwiches to fair-goers. Beachwood editor & publisher Steve Rhodes will be working the Saucer booth on Sunday from 1 p.m. to close. Stop by and say hello!

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Meanwhile, back at the restaurant . . .

saucerbrunchdec2013.jpg

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

Emotion in Sound

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Performers from Poland, Ukraine, Italy and the United States work together to create a drama - set to music - connecting diverse cultures and transcending boundaries.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Prison Impact: A Conversation

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A roundtable of activists discuss working and protesting within a state with a high incarceration rate.

Sunday at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:05 AM | Permalink

December 6, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"It's time for the president and his administration to exercise the moral leadership of the highest office of the nation that is supposed to embody the ideals found in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights," the Sun-Times said in an editorial in 1986.

"We are diminished as a nation and as the guardian of precious human freedoms when we fail to act in support of those principles."

For more, including a Mike Royko column on Nelson Mandela, see Flashback: Time To Act On S. Africa.

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More on Mandela:

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Wrangling Rangel
"Juan Rangel, longtime leader of the politically powerful United Neighborhood Organization, has stepped aside from his $250,000-a-year post as UNO's chief executive in the wake of a scandal that cost the group millions of dollars in state funding and led to a federal investigation of its bond dealings," the Sun-Times reports.

The Beachwood Bookmaking Bureau has made the proper adjustment.

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"The influential Hispanic community group operates the largest charter-school network in Illinois."

Privatization only privatizes greed, corruption and incompetence, it doesn't eliminate it.

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"Rangel's departure 'by mutual agreement' with the board of the not-for-profit group is effective immediately, UNO officials said Friday."

Right. The board mutually agreed to kick Rangel out the door and Rangel mutually agreed that all involved would say his departure was by mutual agreement.

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"Rangel had three family members on the UNO payroll. Sources said two of the relatives quit recently, including deputy chief of staff Carlos Jaramillo, Rangel's nephew."

Maybe they got a better offer from Joe Berrios.

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"Reached by phone, Rangel hung up on a reporter."

The privatization of not commenting.

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"Rangel has close ties to politicians including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose 2011 campaign Rangel co-chaired, Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who sponsored a $98 million state school-construction grant to UNO in 2009 that has fueled its rapid growth as a charter-school operator."

Reached for comment, Emanuel, Burke and Madigan each said they had never heard of Rangel. By mutual agreement.

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Vetting Vanecko
"Attorneys for former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko want to keep one of Cook County's most celebrated prosecutors from testifying at Vanecko's trial in the death of David Koschman," the Sun-Times reports.

"They say in a court filing that Thomas Epach Jr. - who prosecuted more than 150 murder cases before taking a top job in the Chicago Police Department - has said he wanted someone charged in Koschman's death in 2004."

I'm fairly certain this is the first time we're hearing this.

"Epach was a top aide to then-police Supt. Phil Cline in 2004. Epach was among 146 witnesses interviewed during the investigation by special prosecutor Dan K. Webb that led to Vanecko's indictment last December on a charge of involuntary manslaughter."

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"Epach, who left the police department several years ago, declined to comment.

"I am bound by the secrecy of the special grand jury and the order of Judge Michael P. Toomin," he said in an e-mail, referring to the Cook County judge who appointed Webb last year to reinvestigate Koschman's death and to examine the conduct of police and prosecutors, who decided not to charge Daley's nephew.

Actually, the secrecy rules for grand juries don't apply to witnesses - they are free to talk as much as they want. I'm not aware of Toomin issuing a gag order, either, and sources close to Google agree. But if I'm wrong, someone please let me know.

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New Blue Hooey
"$492 Million Overhaul Of Blue Line Could Cut Trip From Downtown To O'Hare By 10 Minutes."

That's $49 million per minute.

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Seriously, possibly (note the "could") cutting travel time between downtown and O'Hare by 10 minutes is not exactly a great selling point - especially given that it's going to take four years to do it. The story is framed that way, though, because that's the way the Emanuel administration framed it for reporters. The alternative was to simply announce what amounts to a needed but routine upgrade of the line.

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"Blue Line rider Megan Groves, 34, of Wicker Park, agreed with that priority.

"It's going to affect more people [than an express train to O'Hare]," Groves said. "These repairs will affect all the people who live along the Blue Line and use it for work and play as opposed to people who are tourists."

I love this. "Remember, we need a quote from a Blue Line rider!'

It's just one of the more ridiculous conventions of old-timey journalism. The first three riders approached probably said, "So what!" or "Where'd they get that money all of a sudden?" or "What's the Blue Line?"

(Then again, other riders probably weren't approached because reporter Rosalind Rossi probably just called a familiar name.)

What editors really mean is "Remember, we need a quote from a Blue Line rider that comports with the tone and angle of the story. We think this is a good thing so let's find someone to say that for us."

In this case, the rider is validating what CTA officials told reporters - that maintenance upgrades that might save 10 minutes for airport users are preferable to an express train. Now, I live on the Blue Line and I'm all for repairs. But c'mon!

"These repairs will affect all the people who live along the Blue Line and use it for work and play as opposed to people who are tourists," Groves says.

I don't mean to pick on Groves, especially given her Occupy affiliation, which is righteous in my book, but I wonder if she was just parroting back what the reporter said ("So, do you think these repairs are preferable to an express train because they will affect all the people who live along the Blue Line . . . ").

First, the city desperately wants to lure tourists to the Blue Line; that was a big part of the mayor's rationale for raising fares from O'Hare. Soak them, not us. So while I usually side with improving the lives of people who live here instead of people who visit, it's not an entirely bad thing to provide revenue-generating airport services. Plus, people who live here use the airport too.

Second, if the upgrades will (possibly) save 10 minutes from O'Hare to downtown, I'm guessing me and Groves will get about an extra 30 seconds at most out of that from our Wicker Park station. I'd rather see the city benefit from an express train.

Of course, it's not an either-or, except as framed by the CTA and passed along by reporters.

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Also:

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"At Thursday's news conference on the Blue Line project at the Logan Square station, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the new service will be fit for 'the 21st century economy,'" the Tribune reports.

One thing it won't be is an experience rivaling much-pricier airport express rail service operating in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and other world-class cities, an idea that Emanuel's predecessor espoused as recently as 2010.

It was then that Richard M. Daley said he was talking with potential investors from China, Japan and the Middle East about building and operating O'Hare 'bullet trains.' He also envisioned building a magnetic levitation, or maglev, train to O'Hare, after he rode aboard one in Shanghai reaching a top speed of 268 mph.

Chicago's plans for a premium, privately operated O'Hare express train, outfitted with airline-style seats and upscale amenities, have sat dormant for years, along with the uncompleted Block 37 'super station' in the Loop that was supposed to serve as the downtown hub.

"Just think, it's seven minutes, they can get almost to downtown," Daley said in 2010. "Seven minutes. That is unbelievable."

I don't know about the amenities, but yes, it would've been awesome. Unfortunately, the city placed a big bet on a dream instead of doing the hard work of actually putting together a plan.

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"Gov. Pat Quinn has also quietly dropped an idea he floated in 2011, one asking Amtrak to examine the logistics and costs of operating nonstop passenger service between Union Station and O'Hare.

"The ridership simply wasn't there to support the estimated $20 million to $50 million cost, not including building new tracks on right-of-way owned by the Canadian National Railway, to accommodate the trains, Joe Shacter, director of public and intermodal transportation at the Illinois Department of Transportation told the Tribune on Thursday."

That, also, sounds like a good idea - and I wonder why the ridership wouldn't be there given the humongous amount of traffic O'Hare serves. The cost also sounds relatively reasonable. Is Union Station as the destination the problem? I hear there's an empty superstation available . . .

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The Worst Best Rankings
In The College Football Report.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk
Delivering the goods.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Riitz, Snow Tha Product, Polica, Robbie Fulks with Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen, The English Beat, Max Bermis, Thy Art Is Murder, and REO Speedwagon, Styx and Ted Nugent from the Rock to the Rescue benefit in Bloomington.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: To the rescue.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:11 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: The Worst Best Rankings

In case you're curious, The College Football Report uses the Associated Press rankings.

This is for no other reason than how ESPN shows the W/L record - we prefer to see both the total record and in conference play. In contrast, CBS Sports uses the BCS rank* but only shows the total record - although CBS does display the point spread. Let's just say we rely heavily on the ALT+Tab** keyboard shortcut.

There's also the Deadspin rankings, complete with Deadspin-like commentary, and the "Best Worst Ten," which ranks the worst teams in college football - always a good time.

Didn't you ask for an explanation on the rankings issue? No? My mistake.

Before we get into the meat of this week's edition, let's briefly recap the headlines:

  • Florida officials declared Florida State QB Jameis Winston too-hard-to-convict (of sexual assault) on Thursday.

    After an inexcusable 11-month delay following the alleged incident in December 2012, State Attorney Willie Meggs*** announced his office did not have probable cause to make an arrest or a "reasonable likelihood" of convicting Winston. Thus the case no one wanted, including Winston, the alleged victim, the Tallahassee PD****, the State Attorney, FSU, the NCAA, and the BCS, not necessarily in that order, has gone away.

    Not that the hand-wringing will stop. Take Christine Brennan's article for USA Today, in which she wonders if we can truly "be certain Winston did no wrong" while resigning herself to knowing that we "likely will never get definitive answers."

    That's how this works. No, we can't be certain. Nor will we get the truth, whatever that means, in this case.

    In criticizing (which is dead on) a bungled press conference by Meggs, Brennan goes too far, indicting Winston for his affiliation with an inappropriately "light-hearted" announcement, as if a delivery with more "seriousness and sincerity . . . would have helped build a much more compelling case for Winston."

    We have two questions in response. One: how can we hold Jameis Winston responsible for how state officials handle press conferences, and two: isn't the case closed?

    (That said, we shouldn't rule out the possibility of another case in the future. Buster Olney suggested as much in an interview with ESPN Radio Friday morning, stating that the accuser and her attorney could wait "until Winston is a wealthy young man" before bringing charges in civil court.)

  • In related news, the Heisman will go to Jameis Winston.
  • Steve Sarkisian hired as head coach for University of Southern California.

    For the record: We're still with Sark.

    Update: Chris Peterson, head coach of Boise State, will fill the vacancy at Washington. This comes as a surprise, as Peterson has rebuffed several big-time offers in the past, but the opening may make sense as it keeps him in the area (broadly speaking) and affords him the opportunity to step up into a major conference and step into a project that is already on the rise.

  • Teddy Bridgewater: Playmaker.
  • Pissed Alabama fans stiffing waiters, killing people, in wake of last-second loss to Auburn.

    'Bama backers continue to lower the bar in amusingly petty and tragically crazy ways.

    As for Auburn fans, they just went crazy, and at least one paused for an impromptu funeral service while storming the field.

  • Finally: Bowl invite season begins!

    The first invites went out this week, including Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane, who will meet in the New Orleans Bowl (in New Orleans), along with Navy (to the Armed Forces Bowl), Arkansas State (to the GoDaddy.com Bowl, for the third consecutive year), and BYU, which was invited to the Fight Hunger Bowl formerly known as the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.*****

Note: We will forgo the usual Match-Ups of the Week due to Championship Week, but Rivalry of the Week remains, if only by chance.

MAC Championship: Bowling Green (9-3, 7-1 MAC) vs. #14 Northern Illinois (12-0, 8-0 MAC)

The Huskies hope to "crash and/or bust the BCS party" (apparently, this phrase must appear in every preview of the MAC Championship) with a win, which should elevate NIU into the BCS Top 14, thus guaranteeing a BCS bid via the non-AQ-school-with-sufficiently-high-BCS-ranking-automatically-receives-BCS-invite rule. Bear with us, the end of the BCS era is mercifully near.

Our pick: Northern Illinois (the favorite, at -4.5) by 4.

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The Big 12 Non-championship Championship: #17 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2) vs. #6 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1)

The Big 12 Conference does not play a conference championship game now that only 10 teams make up the league. So consider this the might-as-well-be-the-championship game. Incidentally, we believe that if this were the 2014-2015 season, the first championship decided by a playoff, Oklahoma State would be the team nobody would want to play.

Our pick: Oklahoma State (-10) by 7.

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Conference USA Championship: Marshall (9-3, 7-1) vs. Rice (9-3, 7-1)

Although seemingly a close match-up based on W/L records, the Thundering Herd commands an advantage due to an offense ranked in the Top 25 in passing yards, rushing yards, and points scored. As for the Owls? Let's just say Rice has a modest passing game, good for about 180 yards, less than 101 other teams.

To say the money is going Marshall's way would be an understatement. After opening at -4.5, the favorites have gotten all the action, with Vegas showing the Herd carrying 69% of the point spread money at this point. Rightly so.

The winner will play in the Liberty Bowl against the 8th- or 9th-place SEC team, most likely Vanderbilt.

Our pick: Marshall (-6.5) by 10.

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Southeastern Conference Championship: #5 Missouri (11-1, 7-1 SEC) vs. #3 Auburn (11-1, 7-1 SEC)

The Tigers have played the Tigers just once before, in the 1973 Sun Bowl, with the Tigers coming out on top, 34-17 over the Tigers. We like the Tigers in this one.

As an aside, if you're looking for the catalyst of the profusion of conference championship games, this is it. Following the league's expansion in 1992 to include Arkansas and South Carolina, the SEC added an East-West championship match-up. Every other conference followed suit, although the SEC's head start (the Big 12 didn't organize a championship until 1995) may help to partially explain the conference's rise to prominence. The followers included, in chronological order: the Big 12, the Mid-American, the ACC, Conference USA, the Pac-12, the Big Ten, and the Mountain West.

Our pick: Not to be flip, but we can't find anything more to add to the mountain of commentary on this game. We like the underdog Mizzou Tigers (+2) to win. Auburn has played a tougher schedule with a 3-1 record against BCS Top 30 teams (compared to 2-1 for Missouri), but in a one game match-up we always like the "nobody believes us" underdog in what is basically a toss-up.

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Pac-12 Championship: #7 Stanford (10-2, 7-2) vs. #11 Arizona State (10-2, 7-1)

Once again, the Pac-12 finds a way to remain quasi-irrelevant. Apart from the fans for the Big Ten runner-up, who will find the trip to California for the Rose Bowl a nice consolation prize, the outcome of this game doesn't factor into the national championship. While both would be scary in a playoff, neither boast an electric offense (a la Oregon) or a dynamic starter (like Braxton Miller) to captivate the general public. No matter. We'll watch anyway.

Our pick: Another toss-up. Take Arizona (-3) due to the marginally better conference record.

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Big Ten Championship: #2 Ohio State (12-0, 8-0) vs. #10 Michigan State (11-1, 8-0)

No one believes the Spartans stand a chance. Ohio State fields arguably the best offense in Division I, and despite MSU's dominant defense, the game will be over if the Buckeyes go up by two touchdowns. Michigan State's Connor Cook leads a conservative offense with a very solid running game, but the scoring pace may force Cook (who has only started 11 games) into an up-tempo mode and it's unclear if he can handle the pressure. While we would like to see MSU pull the upset so we can watch utter chaos ensue in the BCS, an Ohio State W opens the possibility for another Buckeye loss in the national championship. So it's a win-win, really.

Our pick: We would like to see a close game, but Ohio State should cover the -5.5 points. OSU by 8.

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ACC Championship: #20 Duke (10-2, 6-2) vs. #1 Florida State (12-0, 8-0)

This one truly is a foregone conclusion.

Our pick: Sorry, Dookies. FSU by 30.

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Last but not least:

Mountain West Championship: Utah State (8-4, 7-1) vs. #23 Fresno State (10-1, 7-1)

The Bulldogs are legit.

Our pick: Fresno, baby.

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The Chicken Cares Not For Your BCS
There are other games taking place this weekend, as the FCS playoff kicks off. The Chicken weighs in:

Fordham +11 vs. Towson
Maine -3.5 vs. New Hampshire
Coastal Carolina (the Chanticleers!) vs. Montana -7
Furman (the Paladins!) +29.5 vs. North Dakota State
South Dakota State (the Jackrabbits! Note: all one word.) vs. Eastern Washington -6
Jacksonville State +7.5 vs. McNeese State
Sam Houston State +7.5 (the Bear-with-a-k-Kats) vs. Southeast Louisiana
Tennessee State vs. Eastern Illinois -23

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*What about before the BCS rankings come out? Well, we don't know.

**Translation: a handy way to switch between active windows. This one likely confused non-nerds and Mac users alike.

***We couldn't find a prop bet on Meggs' re-election odds. This could go either way: He could be an 8-1 long-shot due to incompetence or, considering his district includes Tallahassee, maybe he's a 5-4 shoe-in.

****We expect to see some forced resignations in the coming weeks, as most conclude that police detectives deliberately sat on the case and some have accused the police of intimidating the alleged victim.

*****Kraft still fights hunger, just not in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese Bowls sure get the job done.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:31 AM | Permalink

Flashback: Time To Act On S. Africa

Sun-Times editorial, July 18, 1986:

A top White House official this week told a reporter that President Reagan is unlikely to agree to economic sanctions as a weapon against South Africa's apartheid policies because, among other things, the women of America might have to "give up their jewelry."

It's time.

It's time for the president and his administration to exercise the moral leadership of the highest office of the nation that is supposed to embody the ideals found in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

It's time for the president and his administration not only to start saying the right things but doing the right things.

We have been strong supporters of Reagan's policies toward South Africa, in the belief that constructive engagement would be the most peaceful, fair and effective way leading to the abolition of the hated apartheid policies.

We shared the White House's stated concern that heavy-handed economic sanctions would most injure those whom we should be saving from the horrors of apartheid - the blacks of South Africa.

This latest blunder by a White House aide only makes us wonder: How well does this administration understand the frustration of an entire nation of people? How well does it understand the frustration of people of good will in our own nation who are trying to push stronger policies to end apartheid? What are the administration's own motives and intentions?

The administration reportedly is going through a comprehensive review of its South Africa policy, and it may reveal its new attitude next week. The president also is reportedly considering giving a major address to the nation on the subject.

We hope and pray the administration's response is not to simply give us more of the same.

We hope the administration adopts policies that will more than merely invite the minority white government to negotiate openly, seriously and honestly with authentic representatives of blacks and whites. And the only way to get those negotiations going is for the South African government to understand that it will lose its last friend in the world if it doesn't.

The possible appointment of Robert J. Brown, a black businessman from North Carolina, to be ambassador to South Africa can be a step in that direction. Brown is expected to have more direct contacts with black leaders than the current ambassador.

Brown, however, can be only as effective as the policy that he is assigned to carry out. Moreover, if Brown's appointment turns out to be tokenism, the administration's credibility will only be further damaged here and abroad.

The administration also ought to consider a number of other diplomatic steps. Among them are a restriction on landing rights here for South African Airways and a reduction in American embassy personnel in South Africa.

But most importantly, the administration needs to increase its contacts with black leaders, including those in the African National Congress, the main, outlawed opposition group. Oliver Tambo, the exiled ANC leader, should be invited to the White House for discussions. Reagan should demand the release of Nelson Mandela, the ANC leader who has been in jail for 23 years. The administration should push to have the ban on ANC lifted. It should no longer leave the major vehicle of black aspirations exclusively to Soviet influence.

Other diplomatic measures may also be effective in making the white minority government understand that the United States abhors its policies. It should coordinate anti-apartheid policies with the 49-nation British Commonwealth, which on its own is leaving British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher more and more isolated in her policy toward South Africa.

America's own best interests are served by tougher action. To be perceived as the world's last, best friend of apartheid is immeasurably destructive of our diplomatic, economic and social interests in the world community.

Furthermore, we need to protect our continued access to the strategically important materials found mainly in South Africa. Platinum, for example, is an important catalyst in the production of high-octane, unleaded gasoline. Without South Africa, we would need to turn to the Soviet Union for much of our platinum. We need to prove our friendship now for those who almost certainly - either peacefully or through bloody overthrow - will run a new, majority government.

The most important reason for acting, however, is to be true to our own principles. We are diminished as a nation and as the guardian of precious human freedoms when we fail to act in support of those principles.

And the administration fails us, and insults us, when somebody very high up in the White House suggests that Americans cherish jewels more than freedom.

Five days later, the Sun-Times followed up:

After listening to President Reagan's long-awaited speech on South Africa we had to wonder: Why did he bother?

He enunciated no new policy. He staked out no new territory. He made no new proposals. He suggested no new vehicles for opening negotiations. He provided no new ground on which the antagonists could meet. He stirred no hope. He provided no vision. He showed no leadership.

We conclude so even though we agree with much of what he said. We agree that punitive sanctions will be counterproductive, that they would most victimize those already the victims of the oppressive apartheid system. We share the sadness over the black violence against blacks. And most of all, we condemn the brutality and injustice of the apartheid system.

But he or his administration have said all that before. He again urges the obvious: the need to get contesting sides to the bargaining table, the release of jailed African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela , establishment of a timetable for the elimination of apartheid, the legalization of black political movements. He says he will dispatch Secretary of State George P. Shultz to consult with Western allies on how internal South African negotiations can be encouraged.

But he has given neither side reason to move toward those negotations. Both sides still hear the same words, words the white minority government understands as winking at the oppression and the black majority understands as continued tolerance of an immoral system.

Instead of giving a boost to the middle ground, as he intended, his speech leads to further polarization, and damages America's moral leadership. Witness the reaction of black Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, considered to be among the nation's moderates: "I think the West, for my part, can go to hell."

How much further could the president have gone? He could have called for a Camp David-style meeting of antagonists. He could have insisted on the unconditional release of Mandela , without the usual preconditions demanded by the South African government. He could have set his own timetable for elimination of apartheid. He could have set a meeting with South African President P. W. Botha.

Instead, he sent a message to the world that this is something not really deserving of his time. Again, we are troubled by what appears to be the president's lack of passion in a cause so crucial to the United States, to the free world, to humanity.

Nothing less than the credibility of what should be the free world's leading spokesman has been seriously damaged. And there wasn't too much of that credibility left to squander anyway, thanks to the stubbornness, ignorance, confusion and indecision that have marked the administration's South Africa policy.

Two years later:

White-ruled South Africa for the past 25 years has always had its reasons for keeping African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela in prison. They all amount to the same thing: He is dangerous.

Makes sense, because he is committed to the overthrow of a system in which the white minority rules and the vast black majority has no rights or powers in its own country.

Mr. Mandela, whose 70th birthday was recently marked in dozens of countries and spurred a torrent of demands and requests and suggestions for his release, can actually gain his release, but on the government's terms, not his.

From a man convicted of violent revolutionary activities, all the government now wants is a public promise that he would not preach or practice violence again. What could be more reasonable?

The reasonableness is deceptive, however, at least from a black South African point of view. Mr. Mandela has no incurable interest in violence, but he had resorted to it when all other avenues of fighting oppression were closed. Could he organize a rally? No. Could he vote? No. Could he fight in any other way the white government's all-pervasive discriminatory rule that reduced him and his people to the status of a subhuman? No.

Admittedly, the South Africa that Mr. Mandela would come out into has changed drastically in the nearly 26 years he has been in prison, especially in the past couple of years. But it still has not changed enough to allow a black to vote, or to fight for peaceful change.

The almost mystical quality of the stature the aging revolutionary has acquired is in part because of the government's insistence on keeping him locked up. Not just his writings but also his photographs are banned. We don't see any other 70-year-old political prisoner's birthday being celebrated on such massive scale and with such intense concern.

And now that, too, seems to have become a reason for not releasing him! Not at this time, not after all this - the worldwide celebrations - a cabinet minister said.

Well, he could have been freed before.

Follow-up:

President Pieter W. Botha of South Africa has made some solicitous noises in recent days in regard to the ailing and imprisoned black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela . Essentially the suggestion is the same as it has been before: Mr. Mandela , now 70 and in the 26th year of incarceration, can be released if he renounces violence. In fact, Mr. Botha seemed to be saying he would like to free Mr. Mandela and that it is up to the latter to enable the government to do that by "cooperating."

But it is like putting the cart before the horse.

South Africa today is a society where the government's "reforms" have created a pointed affront to black dignity: a tricameral parliament in which the whites, the mixed-race Colored and the Asians - all minorities - are represented, but not the blacks, who constitute the vast majority.

It is also a society that, after what seemed to a brief era of welcome and irreversible change for the better, is stubbornly going backward.

Mr. Botha himself declared last week that as long as he is in power, there would be no black majority rule in the country. "I'm not even considering to discuss the possibility," he told a meeting of his party.

Earlier this year, in February, in a sweeping, stunning action he had banned virtually all nonviolent opposition activity.

And now he is trying to tighten up the Group Areas Act, the hated instrument of residential segregation, in an effort to undo such desegregation as has taken place peacefully - but technically in violation of the law - because of economic forces, and to prevent it from happening in the future.

Parliamentary debate on this proposal begins today, amid cries of outrage from business as well as civil rights organizations. The independent Sunday Times, the country's largest Sunday newspaper, said in a front-page editorial: "Suddenly, South Africa is confronted by (legislation) straight out of the darkest ages of apartheid." Even the pro-government Afrikaans-language paper Beeld has joined in the criticism.

The Colored and Asian chambers in parliament are adamantly opposed to the new package of legislation, but their opposition is irrelevant because what finally matters is what the white chamber does. And the white chamber seems quite inclined to go along.

It would be nice if Mr. Mandela came out of prison and found violent struggle no longer necessary. But Mr. Botha - by suppressing peaceful dissent, by hardening residential segregation, by proclaiming that blacks can't be allowed to govern - isn't doing much to help create an environment conducive to peaceful change. What he is doing simply stokes the fires of revolutionary violence.

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See also:
* Royko: Mandela Showing Gold-Meddle Form.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:55 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Riitz at Mojoes in Joliet on Sunday night.


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2. Snow Tha Product at Mojoes in Joliet on Sunday night.

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3. Polica at the Metro on Thursday night.

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4. Robbie Fulks, Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen at the Hideout on Monday night.

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5. The English Beat at City Winery on Tuesday night.

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6. Max Bermis at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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7. Thy Art Is Murder at Reggies on Monday night.

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8. REO Speedwagon at the Rock to the Rescue benefit in Bloomington on Wednesday night. Guitar hero Gary Richrath united with the band for the first time in 25 years.

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9. Styx at Rock to the Rescue on Wednesday night.

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10. Ted Nugent with Styx partially reprising the Damn Yankees at Rock to the Rescue on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:42 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk

Delivering the goods.

morimilkcoorig.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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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.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:21 AM | Permalink

December 5, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"Lawmakers who passed a sweeping overhaul of the state's government worker pension systems are hoping that what the measure giveth workers will be enough to survive a court challenge over what the plan taketh away," the Tribune's Monique Garcia writes in a nice summary of the legal fight to come.

"On Wednesday, union representatives said they are busy preparing their case but have yet to determine when and where they will file suit. The question of jurisdiction is important, as a circuit court judge in Springfield might be more inclined to side with the unions than one in Chicago, where Madigan wields influence in selecting jurists for the bench."

This is really an extraordinary sentence to write in such a matter-of-fact way in an "objective" news article.

It's not that I doubt the assertion - I absolutely do not. It's that the political influence on the judiciary in this state is so easily taken as a given that it evokes yawns from reporters instead of outrage. In fact, isn't the story here that plaintiffs filing a seminal lawsuit against a landmark piece of legislation may avoid doing so in Cook County because judges here are too beholden to their patron - the Speaker of the House, chairman of the state Democratic party and father of the state attorney general - to rule fairly?

That's the lead. After all, the parameters of the legal fight, however nicely summarized here, have been debated ad nauseum. We could just watch any of a dozen or so Chicago Tonight reruns (and don't they all feel like reruns?) for that.

Also: Name those judges! Let's see a list of those who owe their existence on the bench to Madigan.

Or provide this link from the Tribune itself: House Speaker Michael Madigan And Other Politicians Often Weigh In On The Selection Of Cook County Associate Judges - A Process Supposed To Be Free Of Political Influence.

Then there's the larger question: Regardless of what a lower court may rule, where does the state Supreme Court fall?

"In the spring, Madigan said he was confident his original version of pension reform would be found constitutional by at least four of the state Supreme Court's seven justices."

That might just be content-free rhetoric, but Madigan is, um, pretty expert when it comes to vote-counting. And he seems to have a pretty good handle on the state's highest court.

"The Illinois Supreme Court in the past year kept seven politically connected judges on the Cook County bench after they were rejected by voters, a common practice the high court had pledged to curtail," the Tribune reported last year.

"One had given more than $20,000 to the Cook County Democratic Party. Two had connections to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Others have ties to powerful Chicago Democrats who decide who gets the party's support to be judge.

"They weren't the only active Democrats chosen for Circuit Court duty by the high court's three justices from Chicago, all who are Democrats themselves. A Tribune review also found the court reappointed three judges who dropped out of judicial races, making room for the Democratic Party's favored candidate."

Of course, Madigan, as I mentioned, is chairman of the state Democratic party; he oversees each and every race. Like a hawk.

So whom on the state Supreme Court, which (wink, wink) is currently comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans, is particularly beholden to him?

Well, Thomas Kilbride, for one.

"Democratic powerhouse Michael Madigan received much credit 10 years ago for the [Kilbride's] stunning victory over a heavily favored Republican legislator," Mike Lawrence noted for the Springfield State Journal-Register in 2010.

That same year, the Tribune noted that "[Kilbride] raised a whopping $2.48 million to save his job. The money is coming largely from the same sources that funded his 2000 campaign: House Speaker Michael Madigan and organized labor."

And perhaps Charles Freeman, who appointed judge Laura Liu to the Cook County Circuit Court; Liu is the wife of Mike Kasper, Madigan's go-to party lawyer.

Mary Jane Theis was "propelled" to her seat by Madigan and Rahm Emanuel - who certainly has a stake in seeing the pension bill pass muster.

Anne Burke, of course. Her husband runs Madigan's slating committee.

As far as the Republicans go, well, Madigan seems to slate their candidates too.

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Addendum:

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CTRL ALT DELETE
Microsoft Model Of Teacher Evaluation Foisted On Schools Ditched By Microsoft After Nearly Destroying Microsoft.

Lesson: Schools should be Macs, not PCs.

How 'Bout Them Cowboys
It may surprise you to learn that our very own Carl Mohrbacher has a mortgage and a child. In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

From Houston With Love
Pagans, zines, perverts, Jews, rappers, comics and the gift of literacy. In Local Book Notes.

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Do Us Both A Favor

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Tweeting The News

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The Beachwood Tip Line: No tip line for old men.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:15 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: From Houston With Love

1. Tolton Transforming Lives.

"At age 57, Tina Wellington is starting over," Robert McCoppin writes for the Tribune.

"Growing up on Chicago's West Side, Wellington only reached a fifth-grade reading level. In years past she got caught up in alcohol, drugs, prostitution and jail. Now she's trying to turn her life around, hoping to work in child development and eventually run her own restaurant, with help from the Tolton Adult & Family Literacy Center.

"I've got a second chance," she said. "It's like being a child in an adult's body. I'm excited to get to school."

"As part of De La Salle Institute, a Catholic high school on the South Side, the Tolton Center specializes in turn-around stories like Wellington, people who have taken a wrong turn and are now trying to make up for it."

Click through for the rest.

2. Reading With Pictures.

"This is the season of giving when people are running around trying to find the perfect present for family and friends," Shari Schmidt writes on her Oh My Books blog.

"This year, while you're searching for something to wrap, consider adding a comic book to your in store or online shopping cart. Reading with Pictures is coordinating a comic book drive benefiting Comer Children's Hospital.

"This is the second comic book drive Reading with Pictures has spearheaded. Last year after the tragedy of Sandy Hook, Reading With Pictures launched an emergency comic book drive to donate family friendly comic books to the families of that community. The organization was able to coordinate over 500 unique donations toward this drive."

Click through for more information.

3. Chicago-Dentist Known As Dr. Fate Selling Valuable Childhood Comic Book Collection As He Struggles With Rare, Incurable Disease.

4. Astro Belt.

"As Houston hip-hop's stature has grown, so has its mystique - and the resulting curiosity about what these artists are 'really' like is a huge part of the reason the new photo book Houston Rap," Leor Galil writes for the Reader.

"Of course H-Town has also touched Chicago. In the late 90s the Geto Boys' label, Rap-a-Lot Records, released music from Do or Die, one of the most important rap groups in Windy City history. And the legacy of the Geto Boys' pioneering gangsta rap makes itself felt in the dead-eyed, brutally narcissistic street-life rhymes of Chief Keef, Fredo Santana, and other drill MCs. UGK have clearly influenced Kanye West, coloring his music with the particular way they drawled their lyrics and deployed their samples of soul and R&B - and at the BET Hip-Hop Awards in 2007, when West took the stage to accept the Video of the Year prize for 'Stronger,' he gave it to UGK on the spot for 'International Players Anthem (I Choose You).' 'I've been waiting for the opportunity to win an award that I felt like I shouldn't win so I could tell y'all that,' he said. 'Really, this is just my opinion, that I'm just a fan.'"

Click through for more!

5. Coalition Of Scholars In Pagan Studies Petitions Chicago Manual Of Style To Capitalize "Pagan."

6. Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal Of Coach Who Wrote Sex Book.

7. Chicago Zine Fest Registration!

8. Excerpt: Excommunication.

From the University of Chicago Press Blog:

"The field of media studies today generally understands media along two interconnected axes: devices and determinacy. On the one hand, media are understood as synonymous with media devices, technological apparatuses of mediation such as the phone, the file, or the printing press. And yet such technological devices are imbued with the irresistible force of their own determinacy. Media either determine a given social, cultural, or political dimension, or media are themselves determined by the social, cultural, or political. Media makers affect media consumers and thus establish hierarchical relationships with them, or media-savvy individuals express their own desires by way of the tools and machines that extend their will. For media studies generally, media are, in short, determinative devices, and they are thus evaluated normatively as either good influencers or bad influencers."

Click through for more!

9. U.S. Federal Reserve Beige Book - Chicago District.

10. Shalom Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

How 'Bout Them Cowboys

Hm? There was a game last week? I watched the Redskins-Giants football match. It must have slipped my mind the Chicago Athletes played . . . oh, right right right. Chicago Bears. Got it.

Heh, you know what's really weird guys? How Jay Ratliff suddenly wants to be called "Jeremiah."

That's noteworthy!

You know what else is astounding? Matt Forte officially passed Neal Anderson for fitting the most Cracker Jacks in his mouth at once.

78 Cracker Jacks! That's second only to Walter Payton's team record of 97*!

Anybody want to hear about that time when a priest made me dress up as a girl scout and sing Shirley Temple songs?

Seriously, I want to start talking about the Cowboys immediately.

King Of The Cassel
It's as true now as it was in 2008: You don't give Matt Cassel a second bite at the apple.

Thanks to Cassel's performance in the fourth quarter, the Bears secondary didn't even live up to the lofty standard of "loosely affiliated practice squad rejects, and Tim Jennings" that we'd come to expect through three quarters.

And before we all insert the hackneyed old parable, "you can't stop Matt Cassel on 4th and 11, you can only hope to contain his dick in your butt and pray he doesn't go on to rape other parts of your body," let's remember that this is a guy who lost his job to both "The Artist Formerly Known As Bucs Quarterback Josh Freeman" and Christian Ponder, someone who makes the Vikings front office flinch every time they think that they could have drafted Brandon Weeden, or possibly even Joss Whedon.

Oh, what a world that would have been! But then the Firefly movie never would have gotten made.

So the Bears defense as it's currently constituted can't stop an offense that consists of Adrian Peterson (dot dot dot) and nobody. Placing ladies, zombies, former players, injured former players, cardboard cutouts of injured current players, Craig Steltz, food traps or coach limbs on the field to impede the progress of an opposing offense has yielded inconsistent results.

Incidentally, the Bears organization was fined $475,000 and faces the potential loss of a draft pick for having Robbie Gould attempt a field goal on second down.

In future news, Matt Cassel throws six straight incompletions against the Ravens and is removed from the game with concussion-like symptoms. He is replaced by Josh Freeman, even though he is a healthy scratch.

Mike Pereira cannot find a rule that says this is an issue and because the league is busy handing out fines for neon green wristbands in the Browns-Patriots game, nobody seems to care that Freeman plays the duration in a Brad Daugherty Cavaliers road jersey.

In future-future news, the Vikings perform an unprecedented complete turnover at the quarterback position and sign Josh McCown, Matt Flynn and Chad Henne; all for two years, $25 million.

Freeman is drafted by the Pelicans** and averages 15 and 10.

Kool-Aid (3 Out Of 5 Glasses Of Leftover Wine That I Looted From My Parents' House)
It may surprise you to find out that I have a mortgage and a child.

On the other hand, those of you with mortgages and children may also understand that roofs over heads and colleges aren't free, so taking advantage of a good deal when you see one is critical to balancing a habit with a responsibility.

So, when your dad says "I need help drinking all of this wine," you back up the truck.

My level of interest in this game is a little inflated because my wife's side of the family are predominantly Cowboys fans and we plan to spend Monday night yelling at each other.

Because of the rave reviews the Cowboys are getting from national media, I was shocked to find that Dallas is 7-5; a whopping one game better than the middling Bears.

On the other hand, the ycan boast a win over the Lions so I guess they have us there.

I don't think Dallas is much more than a .500 team and I don't think Chicago is much more than a .500 team . . . so I'm giving the Bears the automatic three-point home field advantage.

Bears 20
Cowboys 17

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*Emmitt Smith topped Payton's all-time career record for Cracker Jacks held in the mouth by about fifteen hundred, but temper that with the fact that Smith's offensive line did a better job of breaking down the Cracker Jacks than Chicago's did for Payton early in his career.

**I'm sure someone else has said this already, but doesn't it sound like the New Orleans Pelicans are part of the same league where Jamie Foxx plays quarterback for the Miami Sharks?

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 AM | Permalink

Microsoft Model Of Teacher Evaluation Foisted On Schools Ditched By Microsoft After Nearly Destroying Company

Schools have a lot to learn from business about how to improve performance, declared Bill Gates in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal in 2011. He pointed to his own company as a worthy model for public schools.

"At Microsoft, we believed in giving our employees the best chance to succeed, and then we insisted on success," Gates said. "We measured excellence, rewarded those who achieved it and were candid with those who did not."

Adopting the Microsoft model means public schools grading teachers, rewarding the best and being "candid," that is, firing those who are deemed ineffective. "If you do that," Gates promised Oprah Winfrey, "then we go from being basically at the bottom of the rich countries [in education performance] to being back at the top."

The Microsoft model, called "stacked ranking," forced every work unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, a certain groups as good performers, then average, then below average, then poor.

Using hundred of millions of dollars in philanthropic largesse, Bill Gates persuaded state and federal policymakers that what was good for Microsoft would be good for public schools (to be sure, he was pushing against an open door). To be eligible for large grants from President Obama's Race to the Top program, for example, states had to adopt Gates's Darwinian approach to improving public education. Today more than 36 states have altered their teacher evaluations systems with the aim of weeding out the worst and rewarding the best.

Some states grade on a curve. Others do not. But all embrace the principle that continuing employment for teachers will depend on improvement in student test scores, and teachers who are graded "ineffective" two or three years in a row face termination.

Needless to say, the whole process of what has come to be called "high stakes testing" of both students and teachers has proven devastatingly dispiriting. According to the 2012 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, more than half of public school teachers say they experience great stress several days a week and are so demoralized that their level of satisfaction has plummeted from 62 percent in 2008 to 39 percent last year.

And now, just as public school systems have widely adopted the Microsoft model in order to win the Race to the Top, it turns out that Microsoft now realizes that this model has pushed Microsoft itself into a Race to the Bottom.

In a widely circulated 2012 article in Vanity Fair, reporter Kurt Eichenwald concluded that stacked ranking "effectively crippled Microsoft's ability to innovate."

"Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed - every one - cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees," Eichenwald writes. "It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies."

Last month, Microsoft abandoned the hated system.

On November 12, all Microsoft employees received a memo from Executive Vice President for Human Resources Lisa Brummel announcing the company will be adopting "a fundamentally new approach to performance and development designed to promote new levels of teamwork and agility for breakthrough business impact."

Brummel listed four key elements in the company's new policy:

  • More emphasis on teamwork and collaboration.
  • More emphasis on employee growth and development.
  • No more use of a Bell curve for evaluating employees.
  • No more ratings of employees.

Sue Altman at EduShyster vividly sums up the frustration of a nation of educators at this new development.

"So let me get this straight. The big business method of evaluation that now rules our schools is no longer the big business method of evaluation? And collaboration and teamwork, which have been abandoned by our schools in favor of the big business method of evaluation, is in?"

Big business can turn on a dime when the CEO orders it to do so. But changing policies embraced and internalized by dozens of states and thousands of public school districts will take far, far longer. Which means the legacy of Bill Gates will continue to handicap millions of students and hundreds of thousands of teachers even as the company Gates founded along with many other businesses, have thrown his pernicious performance model in the dustbin of history.

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

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David Morris is vice president and director of the New Rules Project at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which is based in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., which focuses on local economic and social development.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

December 4, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. It's not reform when Illinois politicians pass it.

2. The Political Odds have now been recalculated.

3. "There is no indication that former city Comptroller Amer Ahmad, who faces public corruption charges in Ohio, engaged in any wrongdoing at City Hall, according to a legal review released Tuesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration," the Tribune reports.

"The review did find that Ahmad failed to recuse himself from some pension fund votes involving a financial firm that had city business while he was actively seeking a job with the firm, but it concluded there was no harm to the city."

Um, there may not have been harm to the city but I'd classify that as wrongdoing.

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"The report also addressed some of the questions raised by Tribune reports about Scott's ties to Ahmad.

"The Tribune has reported that Ahmad signed off on a contract that led to $165,000 in bond fees for Scott's former firm, Scott Balice Strategies, when he served as Ohio's deputy treasurer and she was in the private sector. After Scott started as Emanuel's CFO, she selected a firm that employed Ahmad's onetime boss, former Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce, for hundreds of thousands of dollars in city bond work.

"Ahmad and Scott said the former comptroller was not involved in any decision-making related to bond deals, the review said, but Ahmad acknowledged he was copied on e-mails from Boyce to Scott.

"Those e-mails, and others related to the report, could not be reviewed Tuesday, because the Emanuel administration declined to make them available. Asked to provide recordings or transcripts of the interviews of Scott and others, Patton and a Drinker attorney said there were none - only lawyers' notes they declined to provide."

So, in other words, the Emanuel administration failed to provide the documentation it gathered to back up its claim that Lois Scott did nothing wrong. They have the documentation, but they don't want anyone to see it. Which invalidates their claim.

Rewritten:

The Emanuel administration on Tuesday released a report clearing the mayor's chief financial officer of wrongdoing in her dealings with the city's indicted former comptroller, but refused to release the e-mails those two shared that they say backs up that claim.

The administration also said that interviews done for the internal investigation were not recorded and therefore no transcripts were available. Lawyers took notes during their interviews, but officials would not release those either.

In other words, an administration short on credibility is asking everyone to simply trust them when they say their review turned up no wrongdoing.

That claim, however, is at odds with the acknowledgement that the comptroller, Amer Ahmad, failed to recuse himself from some pension fund votes involving a financial firm that had city business while he was actively seeking a job with the firm.

After all, the refusal to release the e-mails is really the biggest part of this story, not the administration's claim that no harm was done.

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The Tribune was able to obtain a previous set of e-mails from the Ohio treasurer's office through a Freedom of Information Act request.

4. Twista Is Back, The Orwells Are Here & Chief Keef Is Gone.

In our Local Music Notebook.

5. Get Ball.

In Fantasy Fix.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Recalculating reform.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:48 AM | Permalink

The [Pension] Papers

"It's always about politics in Illinois and never about reform," Phil Kadner writes for the SouthtownStar in the day's must-read pension commentary.

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"The vote on Tuesday came one day after the deadline for candidates to file to run for state office in next year's primary, so legislators could know whether they faced a primary opponent," the New York Times noted.

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Tribune Editorial: Vote Was A Test Of Courage.

I guess they don't read the New York Times - or Kadner.

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It's funny how a vote that goes your way is a vote of courage and a vote that goes the other way is an act of cowardice - as if everyone on your side is principled and everyone on the other side is disingenuous. Be smarter, Tribune.

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"Thank you to those 30 gutsy members of the Illinois Senate and 62 gutsy members of the Illinois House who voted Tuesday to pull their state from the brink of a financial disaster," the Trib editorialists write.

"In his closing argument, Sen. Kwame Raoul referred to the decision as a 'test of courage.' It was. It took courage for many of those lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, to vote for pension reform in the face of a massive effort by organized labor to crush the measure and dire warnings from some conservatives that it was a big fraud.

"Those votes took courage."

It's news to me that following the orders of Michael Madigan is a gutsy act of courage.

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"We supported it, knowing that it's imperfect."

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Except when you oppose an action - then don't make a weaselly compromise and sell-out the people. All the classic formulations of our narrowly tailored political discourse are here!

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"The legislation will be challenged on grounds that it is unconstitutional. We think, and many of the best lawyers in the state think, it can survive a court test. It has to."

We think, like supporters/opposers of Obamacare, that it will/won't survive a constitutionality test because we want/don't want it to, and therefore have constructed the arguments in a way most persuasive to our way of thinking. Also, "many" of the "best" lawyers in the state think so too! Also, "many" don't!

It just "has to" be constitutional! It just has to! But constitutionality is not decided on that hallowed legal principle known as Has To Corpus.

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And then the coup de gras: "This state still has a massive job to do. It can't tax its way to prosperity. It has to curb its spending."

Like I said, they must not read the New York Times.

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"Governors and lawmakers shortchanged the system, skipped payments, improved benefits and carved out sweetheart windfalls for friends as the debt grew," the Tribune reports.

"The proposal attempts to shut down the gravy train for politically connected people who managed to get into the pension system through various associations, ranging from school administration groups to the state's Special Olympics."

By punishing the victims.

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"Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, dismissed Madigan's assertion that the pensions are 'too rich,' putting the blame on state officials who failed to keep retirement funds in better shape over the years.

"What we are doing is quite simply wrong," Holmes said, her voice echoing off the Senate chamber's ornate walls. "This is actually no different than a thief coming into your house at night and stealing your valuables. The difference is this isn't a thief coming in the night, this is your elected representatives coming to you, looking you straight in the eye and saying, 'I'm going to take away your future.' That is more than a promise broken. That is reprehensible."

If you think that's hyperbolic, here's what the Sun-Times said in an editorial in support of the legislation:

"The bill kicks ordinary working people - secretaries, clerks, teachers and the like - in the teeth. Much of the bill's $160 billion in savings comes from reducing the cost-of-living increases to their pensions and pushing back their retirement age."

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The Sun-Times goes on to say that "every alternative is even worse" and that "nobody should count on a better bill, or any politically viable bill, coming along again soon." The editorial is titled "Last Best Chance For Pension Reform."

Curiously, it did not appear with the horoscope, which is odd because the Sun-Times suddenly appears to have the ability to tell the future.

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The floor of the General Assembly is littered with bills that were last best chances.

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There are just no alternatives!

Oops. Shhh!

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Similarly, a Tribune editorial from Monday claims that "The choice is between this reform bill and the untenable status quo. A better bill is not in the offing, not now, and probably not for years down the road."

First, pitting a position one supports against the status quo is right out of the demagogue's playbook. Nobody - nobody supports the status quo.

Second, the Tribune joining the Sun-Times in the fortune-telling business ignores one obvious fact among many others: This bill could very well be struck down by the courts, in which case a "better" bill - if by "better" we mean "legal" - would likely be in the offing. Legislators would have no choice but to go back and craft a solution that meets the test of constitutionality.

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"In the House, rookie GOP leader Durkin could round up only 15 Republican votes, less than the party was able to put up for prior bills, and Madigan's Democrats supplied 47 votes," the Tribune account says. "The bill passed the House 62-53, getting two more votes than the minimum needed. One lawmaker voted present.

"In the Senate, Radogno had hoped to put together a dozen Republican votes but collected just 10. Early on, Cullerton had hoped to put up only 18 Democrats, but he came through with 20. The bill received the minimum 30 Senate votes, with 24 voting against and three voting present."

How gutsy.

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And let's face it, the vast majority of legislators didn't even read the bill. The idea that "everyone knew what was in it" is just laughable, especially given Illinois' long and artful history of moving commas to reward cronies. Plus, this.

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Sheila Simon Is God's Special Creature.

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"Capitalism is the greatest poverty fighting machine in the history of mankind, and I'm proud of the role I've played in it," Bruce Rauner said in a statement.

"But I'm even more proud of the investment returns I've helped produce for the retirement accounts of state workers."

Just to be clear: Bruce Rauner is more proud of the investment returns he's helped produce for state workers than his role in fighting poverty.

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Let's go the Tweetstream:

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Oh, Ty.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:15 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Twista Is Back, The Orwells Are Here & Chief Keef Is Gone

1. Lady Gaga Steals Keef's Last Shred Of Credibility While Accruing None For Herself.

2. Lane Tech's Recording Studio Gives Pro Music, Mixing Tools To Students.

"Studio 2501 (named for the school address, 2501 W. Addison) is the only high school in the state to offer a sound engineering class," Dave Hoekstra reports for the Sun-Times.

That's pretty cool, but it's still CPS:

"Lane Tech would not disclose the building budget."

Probably embarrassed because other schools have had their music programs gutted.

3. Chicago Airports Get Their Own Radio Station.

"The 24-hour 'AIR Chicago' was created for the Chicago Department of Aviation by Clear Chanel Airports, a division of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc., and features smooth jazz music interspersed with airport traffic and weather reports, business news, information about the airports and advertising," USA Today reports.

Does this mean the end of Terminal Tunes?

RAAHHHMMMM!

4. The Orwells: 'Older Bands Don't Have The Fire We Do.'

That's because . . .

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"The [Elmhurst] five-piece have one hell of a hype around them at the moment, but after only graduating from high school this year, few can seem to get over their age," Andrew Trendell writes for GigWise.

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The Orwells Don't Want To Grow Up.

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At the Yorktown Shopping Mall:

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5. Twista At The Terror Dome.

"The track is called 'Intro,' which is the opening track from his upcoming Back To The Basics EP," StupidDope reports.

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6. Kim Kardashian Wears Chicago Band T-Shirt On Day Out With Baby North.

7. DeRogatis Begins His Best Of 2013 List.

8. Chicago Corporate DJ.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:26 AM | Permalink

December 3, 2013

Fantasy Fix: Get Ball

As many fantasy leagues head into postseason first-round match-ups this week, fantasy owners may feel there is not much left to do but ride your regulars as far as they can take you in the playoffs. That's one approach, but another is to try finding a hot fantasy player with a few strong match-ups of his own over the last few weeks of the season.

Denver rookie running back Montee Ball might be one such option. After a pretty quiet start to his career earlier this year, the University of Wisconsin product has been very good the last couple of weeks. Even though he is the clear No. 2 RB for the Broncos, he had 117 rushing yards in Week 13. His late season build-up could continue in Week 14, when Denver plays the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have an above-average defense overall, but actually has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this year, according to Yahoo! stats.

Ball has another pretty good match-up in Week 15 against a San Diego Chargers defense that just yielded 164 rushing yards to the Cincinnati Bengals.

I know it's hard to trust an RB 2 on a team with the most productive passing quarterback in the NFL, but as Denver plays out a few meaningless games before the NFL postseason begins, it's good bet they will rely a little more on the ground game.

Ball is available in 43% of Yahoo! leagues, and might make a good fantasy RB 2 or flex play in the coming weeks.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report looks at which players to buy or sell based on their Week 13 performances.

* SI.com names Peyton Manning its fantasy MVP, the biggest "Duh" moment of the year.

* ESPN recommends another free agent I like for the fantasy playoffs push: Colts running back Donald Brown.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Former Chicago Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez, convicted on federal charges of rigging hiring to benefit political foot soldiers, filed Monday to run for the Cook County Board seat previously held by William Beavers - who is headed for prison," the Tribune reports.

"For some Cook County voters, the Democratic primary could become known as the election of second chances. Another convicted felon, former Chicago Ald. Issac 'Ike' Carothers, also filed for a primary bid for the County Board."

They just can't stay away.

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"Sanchez said he took the fall for following the well-established Chicago political tradition of hiring people who came recommended by political benefactors. 'I was a scapegoat for a system that was in place for decades, and it's still in place,' he said."

You know what else has been in place for decades? Sending public officials to prison who are caught doing this.

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To be clear, Sanchez didn't merely hire job candidates who came to him with political patrons.

"A federal jury convicted Sanchez last July in an elaborate scheme to steer city jobs and promotions to city applicants and workers who were active members of the Hispanic Democratic Organization, a once-powerful group that backed Mayor Richard Daley dating to his first mayoral election in 1989," the Tribune noted in 2011, when Sanchez was sentenced.

"Sanchez was among the most powerful figures convicted in the hiring scheme. He was de facto head of HDO and led the city's largest department. Robert Sorich, who was Mayor Richard Daley's patronage boss, was convicted earlier and sentenced to 3 years and 10 months in prison."

To this day, Sanchez has shown no remorse. He maintains he was merely participating in a system that had been established well before him. It never occurred to him that he was committing a crime. Which is a virtual impossibility unless he never read a newspaper in his life. It also establishes that he has no moral compass whatsoever; he never felt a single pang for those who were unfairly blocked from jobs that instead went to dregs and drunks.

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"Yeah, I spent some time in a federal facility, but I think my record is pretty clear when you look at how I ran that department," Sanchez said Monday.

Um, yes. Illegally.

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From the Beachwood vault, March 2007:

"Everyone who works in the city should have an equal right to a job," Patrick Fitzgerald said in announcing the Al Sanchez indictment. "Everyone should have an equal right to a promotion. It ought to be a level playing field. It shouldn't depend on what your politics are."

You know what's funny? Barack Obama's chief strategist disagrees. "Political debts contribute to better city services," David Axelrod wrote in a pro-patronage piece in the Tribune last August.

See also:
* The Trash Man's Gamble.

* Al Sanchez Gets Cross.

* Trash Man Trial Goes To Jury.

* Sanchez Wears The Jacket.

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Pension Piffle
This Chicago Tonight segment last night was a typical sprint to the wire between the usual suspects racing to spout the usual talking points before time ran out so your window to the world could bring you . . . a rehash about the Bears.

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My question about this segment is this: Did viewers learn anything from it?

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Why Care About The NSA?
For one thing, even in the unlikely event you've "done nothing wrong," you are losing your freedoms at a ferocious pace. Plus, you've done something wrong.

Elton John In Rosemont (And Beyond)
Captain Fantastic dazzles as the Rocket Man.

Burger King's Imposter Syndrome
In our Random Food Report.

The "T" Word
In Local TV Notes.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A political tradition.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:39 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: The "T" Word

1. Aereo Stuck At Gate?

"A new lawsuit could keep Aereo out of the third biggest media market, and also complicates a confusing situation that makes it legal for Americans in some part of the country - but not others - to watch over-the-air TV via third party streaming services," Gigaom reports.

"The lawsuit was filed [last month] by FilmOn, an Aereo-like service owned by eccentric billionaire Alki David. FilmOn's complaint claims that a PBS station sent a letter accusing it of stealing its signal; FilmOn claims its service is a form of legal private copying, and asks the Chicago court to declare that it's not violating the Copyright Act.

"The Chicago complaint amounts to a fresh courtroom stunt by David, a notorious provocateur who has repeatedly thumbed his nose at the court system. [A]ccording to reports, a judge in Washington held FilmOn in contempt of court and called David a 'man who is missing couth.' David, who was not in court, told the Wrap that his lawyers informed him that the judge was 'p***ed.'"

Why is this relevant to Aereo in Chicago?

"[I]f Aereo goes ahead with the launch, the broadcasters would likely sue to add Aereo to the FilmOn case, forcing Aereo to work with David and his loosey-goosey legal team. As a result, Aereo may avoid the Windy City altogether."

2. The "T" Word.

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3. Is Your TV Spying On You?

"An IT consultant called Jason Huntley, who lives in a village near Hull, uncovered evidence that a flat-screen telly, which had been sitting in his living room since the summer, was secretly invading his family's privacy," IOL reports.

"He began investigating the LG device after noticing that its home screen appeared to be showing him 'targeted' adverts - for cars, and Knorr stock cubes - based on programs he'd just been watching.

"Huntley decided to monitor information that the so-called smart TV - which connects to the Internet - was sending and receiving. He did this by using his laptop effectively as a bridge between his television and the internet receiver, so the laptop was able to show all the data being sucked out of his telly.

"He soon discovered that details of not just every show he watched but every button he pressed on his remote control were being sent back to LG's corporate headquarters in South Korea."

Hey, even Comcast in Chicago can turn your TV on and off and change channels from its headquarters, as some of us know. (They're probably laughing at you as they watch you wait for a service call to show up.)

4. Or, They Could Just Spy On You.

"Comcast Corp, the largest U.S. cable operator, is testing new advertising technology that inserts up-to-date commercials into past episodes of TV shows that are available on demand, a development that could help television networks generate additional revenue," Reuters reports.

5. Durbin's Capitol Hill Row House Inspires Garry Trudeau Amazon Series.

Frankly, we'd rather have Doonesbury back.

6. Former NBC Chicago Anchor Zoraida Sambolin On Her Breast Cancer Battle.

Inspired by Angelina Jolie.

7. Ex-Chicago TV Anchor Takes A Loss.

Just another in an occasional series of reminders of how much they make.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:40 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Burger King's Imposter Syndrome

1. Burger Clown.

"Burger King in November released its latest menu item: Big King, made of two beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame-seed bun," Ad Age reports.

"That came months after it unveiled its summer menu, which included a BBQ Rib sandwich - a boneless rib pattie just like the McRib.

"It's not unusual for BK to emulate McDonald's menu - the Big King, in fact, was once a limited-time offer in the '90s, without the middle bun it now has. But BK's recent products appear to be more strikingly similar to McDonald's items than ever."

What really persuaded analysts that a dirty game of corporate copycat was going on, though, was when Burger King introduced its new mascot.

2. Bongo Room Rules.

Belated props for this social media maneuver.

3. Arby's Still Exists - And Apparently Advertises.

4. No-Go Cups.

"KFC has a new item called the Go Cup, a container that houses chicken and fries and fits in your car's cupholder," the Kicking Tires blog reports.

"Or at least it 'will fit into 83 percent of cupholders out there,'" according to USA Today.

"Challenge accepted. I put on my lab coat and went to work."

Click through for the resulting photos.

5. Jon Stewart Hates Them.

"If you love Chicago style food, then you have to check out Chicago Hamburger Company in Phoenix," ABC15 reports.

"Customers we spoke with are actually from Chicago and they say it's the only place in town that got it right. They say the food is delicious, and the atmosphere even reminds them of home."

What's a Chicago-style hamburger? Apparently it's an ersatz White Castle.

6. "Crazy" Burger Trends Dying Down.

But when it comes to toppings, anything goes!

7. Chicken Little.

"Tyson Foods is the largest U.S. commodity beef and chicken supplier, with slaughterhouses that process an average of 132,000 head of cattle and 41.4 million chickens weekly," Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

"But the company is seeking fortune beyond the supermarket meat department.

That's why it's rushing to sell piping-hot Buffalo chicken bites near the cash register at many of the gas stations and 149,000 convenience stores across the U.S.

"Such locales may not be sexy or even particularly appetizing, but their sales are growing while revenue at traditional food stores is falling.

"The profit margins of prepared foods - even those sold alongside cigarettes and condoms - can be bigger and more stable than those for raw meat."

Pick up a C-suite - chicken, condoms and cigarettes - today!

8. Pigs Go Viral.

"Hillshire Brands Co said [last month] that cases of a virus deadly to baby piglets were growing and the company was increasing meat prices to combat rising commodity costs tied to the disease," Reuters reports.

"The Chicago-based maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs was one of the first companies to state publicly that the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDv, was hurting its bottom line - and it will not be the last, analysts said."

Separately, Hillshire announced it would start selling piglets in blankets at area convenience stores.

9. Kraft Removing Yellow Dye From Some Mac And Cheese.

Will rename product Mac And Cheeseishness.

10. Lay's Announces Chocolate-Covered Potato Chips To Go On Sale Next Week.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:56 AM | Permalink

Why Care About The NSA?

Here are the talking points you need - not the ones the Obamas want you to have.

1. Why Care About The NSA?


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2. Freedom Files.

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Previously:
* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

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

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

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

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

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

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

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

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:16 AM | Permalink

Elton John In Rosemont (And Beyond)

"Fans needed a spreadsheet to keep track of the hit parade Elton John performed Saturday at a packed Allstate Arena," Bob Gendron wrote for the Tribune over the weekend.

"The English icon drew from four decades and paid particular attention to his epic Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, opening the 160-minute concert by playing the first side of the 1973 album in celebration of its 40th anniversary.

"Per usual, he viewed the roles of crowd pleaser and flamboyant showman as one, and excelled at both.

"Yet John offered more than the cozy comfort of nostalgia. He subtly changed standards to suit his current vocal range and occasionally dug deep into his catalog, pulling out nuggets such as the rustic 'Holiday Inn.'

"More impressively, Captain Fantastic dazzled on the piano, exhibiting techniques and skills often lost amidst the sweep of his melodies. If John has grown tired of singing favorites like 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me' and 'Levon,' he didn't act it, especially given the way he attacked lyrics, flashed wide grins and kept a close watch over his band."

Indeed. As the following video compilation shows, Elton's piano playing these days is positively inspired, and he remains emotionally invested in even his oldest, most well-played songs. Even more, he wants his audiences to feel the same, gauging reaction to opening notes to see if they recognize the tune, and offering sly and sometimes pleading (and sometimes proud) smiles to fans as if to signal that he is a fan too - as well as the artist who created (in large part with lyricist Bernie Taupin) these amazing, enjoyable, often odd and sometimes jaunty works.

We've reconstructed the set list from Elton's Rosemont show through the wonders of YouTube, supplemented where needed (as noted) from other recent shows.

1. Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.


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2. Bennie and the Jets.

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3. Candle in the Wind (Detroit).

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4. Grey Seal (Philadelphia).

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5. Levon.

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6. Tiny Dancer.

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7. Holiday Inn (Philadelphia).

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8. Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters (St. Paul).

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9. Believe.

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10. Philadelphia Freedom.

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11. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

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12. Rocket Man.

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13. Hey Ahab (Lincoln).

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14. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues (Philadelphia).

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15. The One (Boston).

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16. Oceans Away (Philadelphia).

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17. Someone Saved My Life Tonight (Lincoln).

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18. Sad Songs (Say So Much) (Philadelphia).

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19. All The Girls Love Alice (Detroit)

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20. Home Again (Erie)

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21. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me.

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22. I'm Still Standing (Lincoln).

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23. The Bitch Is Back (Lincoln).

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24. Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'N' Roll) (Philadelphia)

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25. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting.

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Encore:

26. Your Song.

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27. Crocodile Rock.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:23 AM | Permalink

December 2, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

The Papers will return on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, our very own Jim Coffman joins the chorus of those blasting Marc Trestman for attempting a field goal on second down in overtime in Sunday's game against the Vikings instead of taking one more play to try to move the ball closer than 47 yards for Robbie Gould.

I wholeheartedly disagree, and I hope I have the time to explain why tomorrow.

Also, in The Weekend In Chicago Rock: Zombi, Savage Sister, George Clinton & P-Funk, Elton John, and Broken Hope.

I'll freshen up the rest of the site when I'm back in business tomorrow.

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The [Thanksgiving Weekend 2013] Papers

Saturday Update:

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The College Football Report: Is taking the holiday weekend off.

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The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: A Thanksgivukkah Miracle.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The Business: What happens when artists take a look inward? Jim and Greg play the best songs written about the music industry. And they review the new album from the California band The Warlocks."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Cowboy up.

saucer1130.jpg

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

Community Forum: SNAP Program Benefit Reductions

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Paul Morello of the Greater Chicago Food Depository discusses how cuts to SNAP benefits will affect social service agencies and Chicago residents who rely on food stamps.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Sunday at 4 p.m. on CAN TV21 (en Español).

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Perspectivas Latinas: Centro Juan Diego

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Liz Gonzalez of Casa Juan Diego shares how providing a safe and positive environment for youth contributes to their personal development.

Saturday at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Metal Recycling, Acme Refining Public Forum

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Community members weigh in on proposals to build a new scrap metal recycling plant in Pilsen.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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From the Mines to the Streets: A Bolivian Activist's Life

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Author and activist Felix Muruchi connects his own experiences as a miner, union leader and political prisoner in Bolivia with the larger political forces at play in the country and across South America at the end of the 20th century.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Past, Present, & Future of the Labor Movement

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Dorian T. Warren of Columbia University traces the history of labor movements in America, including recent events like the Occupy movement and teacher strikes in Chicago, during a lecture sponsored by Roosevelt University's Center for New Deal Studies.

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

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Perspectivas Latinas: From the Barrio

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Robert Renteria of the From The Barrio Foundation highlights ways that nonprofits can address the problems of violence, delinquency, drugs, and gangs in Chicago.

Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Status TV Chicago presents "Only One Way Out"

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In this short film, a young man who moves to Chicago falls in love with a salsa dancer, but he must overcome the gangs of his new neighborhood - and his own lack of dancing skills - in his quest to be with her. This film contains some adult language.

Sunday at midnight on CAN TV19.

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Friday Update:

  • Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
  • The Week In Chicago Rock: Featuring Machine Gun Kelly, Metric, Lupe Fiasco, letlive, Jagwar Ma, Chance the Rapper, and Rick Springfield.

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The [Thanksgiving 2013] Papers:

1. Speed Camera System Flags A Parked Car.

That's okay, just write the check to the City of Chicago Children's Fund.

2. Thanksgiving Has Long Been a Commercial Sell-Out.

From day one.

"As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts." The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold?

It's the historical sellout we still haven't come to grips with.

3. Obama Can Pardon Turkeys, Why Not Immigrants?

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See also: The Story of Ju Hong, Presidential Heckler.

4. Thanksgiving Shopping? Not In States That Ban It.

5. Illinois Has The Second Most Turkey Deep-Frying Accidents.

Somehow I feel like it's John Kass's fault.

6. Michelle Obama Wants To Ruin Your Thanksgiving.

"As you spend time with loved ones this holiday season," she writes in a mass e-mail, "be sure to talk with them about what health care reform can mean for them - OFA has some tips to help get the ball rolling."

7. Tastes Like Rubber.

8. Pension Turkey.

9. Kill List.

10. Turkey Shot.

11. Don't Blow It, CTA.

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

"An administration that took office promising to be the most transparent in history instead has carried out the most intrusive surveillance of reporters ever attempted."

13. Turkey Trots.

Flying and otherwise.

14. Dominick's 1977: Holiday Turkey With Pop-Up Timer.

USDA Grade "A."

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See also: Dominick's Still Selling Gift Cards Despite Imminent Closings.

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Seemingly related: Latest Gift Card: Online Time With A Doctor.

15. A Thanksgivukkah Miracle.

He led the team with this oil for six games.

16. Anthropologists "Wow" Chicago.

"My conference is cooler than your conference."

17. Hog With Big Nuts Must Report To Pen.

Sadly, he'll be out by Flag Day.

18. Too Much Thanksgiving Turkey Can Give Your Pet A Tummy Ache.

Or worse.

19. Walter Payton Goes Turkey Hunting.

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20. America's Native Prisoners of War.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Historically accurate.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:19 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Kicking Trestman

Coach, you must know the saying, "if you don't acknowledge your mistakes, you will repeat them." Oh, and we can add that you will infuriate Bears fans and hasten your departure from our fair city?

I also know, coach Trestman, that you love to get into analytics to explain decisions and your almost-two-minute treatise on why various, shifting probabilities caused you to eschew a timeout late in Ravens game regulation a few weeks ago was a classic in the form.

Maybe the problem here is that the specific analytic involved in the decision that drove fans around the bend on Sunday was too simple. Clearly the idea that a kicker is more likely to hit a shorter field goal than a longer one lacks the sort of complicated sizzle that would make it appealing to the ultra-smart, or at least to those who love to play smart on TV.

What was also simple was the fact that attempting to kick a 47-yard field goal on second down in overtime during the 23-20 loss to the Vikings was a brutally bad call.

Trestman had his team attempt the kick despite the fact that Matt Forte and his offensive line had just strung together five consecutive, successful runs for the first time all game. In the process, they amassed a couple first downs and set up a second-and-seven from the Vikings 39.

Forte was pounding away at a demoralized Minnesota defense after Blair Walsh had launched a seemingly game-winning field goal earlier in overtime. But it was nullified by a fluke face mask penalty that pushed the ball so far back he overhit his next one and missed badly (a 57-yard attempt after the Vikings failed to advance the ball on one more rushing play before the kick).

The Bear offensive line, which had struggled to establish a run game but was solid in pass protection, was rolling. But then Trestman short-circuited it all and went for the field goal earlier than he had to. Some advocate kicking on third down in some of these situations because if there is a bad snap, you can just fall on it and try again on the next play. Few do so for kicks outside of 40 yards.

In general, NFL kickers have improved a great deal in just the past decade. But no matter how much they improve, a 47-yard kick will never be completely routine (of late, they have been converted at a 73 percent rate, which of course means they are missed a little more than one-in-four).

The other element than that was so aggravating about the decision to kick on second down was that the Bears couldn't get their act together leading into it, i.e., they were forced to call a timeout. And when the Vikings followed that with a timeout of their own, Bear kicker Robbie Gould enjoyed a delightful double freeze-out.

Gould is one of the best kickers ever (if he had made that overtime kick, he would have passed former Colt Mike Vanderjagt for the best overall percentage of field goals made at 85.6) but he had been up all night as his wife had a baby. The child apparently was born a little before 2 a.m. and then Gould flew to Minnesota later in the morning. In other words, he was far more susceptible than usual to head games.

And while I realize statisticians have shown that kickers' overall conversion rates aren't fundamentally impacted by timeouts taken before they kick, it couldn't have been more obvious that in this instance, Gould wasn't comfortable during the wait. After going out onto the field before the timeouts he could be seen dashing back to the sideline for practice kicks.

After the game Trestman chose the stonewall route, again (as he had a few weeks prior when he failed to switch quarterbacks for almost an entire half after Jay Cutler had aggravated an old injury, his torn groin, and suffered a new high ankle sprain midway through the loss at home to the Lions). He absolutely, positively would not acknowledge even the possibility that he had been wrong. His excuses for kicking on second down were that he was worried about a penalty or a fumble.

In other words, a classic case of a scared coach playing not to lose.

And one final thing coach: No matter how justified you think you were, YOUR KICKER MISSED THE KICK! Of course one has to evaluate this sort of decision in such a way as to take into account the probability of a given action being accomplished as opposed to simply looking at whether what you did worked or didn't. But if the action is a failure, reasonable people reconsider what led up to it.

Reasonable sports fans in Chicago are starting to run out of patience.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Zombi at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.


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2. Savage Sister at Quenchers on Friday night.

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3. George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at Concord Hall on Friday night.

See also.

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4. Elton John in Rosemont on Saturday night.

See also: Gendron/Tribune: Elton John Dazzles.

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5. Broken Hope at the Metro on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Charter Schools Complicit With Segregation.
SPORTS - USA Gymnastics Bans Illinois Coach.

BOOKS - The Randomness Of Harvard Admissions.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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