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November 23, 2017

What You Need To Know About The FCC's Plan To End Net Neutrality

The details of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to destroy net neutrality are out. And they're even worse than expected. Our lawyers and policy experts are reviewing the reports and gathering details about Pai's plan. This is our first read on the most important details you need to know about this proposal. We will update this post as new details emerge.

The FCC plan will:

  • End Title II protections and erase the three net neutrality rules passed at the FCC in 2015 and upheld in court last year.
  • Legalize internet blocking and discrimination by Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, no questions asked.
  • Permit throttling back the speeds of different kinds of websites and apps.
  • Encourage paid prioritization - sticking most sites and apps in the slow lane and reserving the fast lane for the few wealthy companies that can afford special treatment.

So what will protect us from ISPs that want to censor political speech or stop competition to their old cable TV and telephone businesses?

According to Pai's proposal, companies like Comcast don't require rules or enforcement to behave. In place of laws and rules, Pai is counting on "public shaming" to keep companies in line.

As for Pai, he's clearly shameless.

We've shown time and again that Title II of the Communications Act is the best and only foundation for net neutrality rules we have right now. And it gives the FCC the authority to enforce other important rules about broadband affordability, privacy and competition. Title II works, plain and simple.

But this has never been about the truth for Ajit Pai.

Pai admitted in April, even before he launched this process, that he'd made up his mind to abandon real net neutrality. He has lied, repeatedly, about the impact of net neutrality on broadband investment. And he has ignored tens of millions of public comments opposing his plans.

The FCC will vote on Pai's plan on Dec. 14. We need to throw everything we've got at this fight in the next three weeks. We're planning protests across the country, mobilizing thousands of calls to Washington and planning a big rally outside the FCC on Dec. 14.

This is a wake-up call for all of us. We need to fight and we need to do it now if we want to save the Internet.

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

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See also:

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Comments welcome

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

November 22, 2017

FCC Wraps New Gift For Sinclair

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai circulated a proposal Tuesday to review and revise the agency's national television-ownership cap. Pai's actions begin a rulemaking process that will likely result in the removal of even more safeguards designed to protect localism, diversity and competition over the public airwaves.

The move could lift the existing cap set by Congress, which says no single company can own TV stations reaching more than 39 percent of the national audience. The FCC does not have the power to lift, change or waive this limit set by statute, but it plans to move ahead anyway.

Pai's proposal would remove the last remaining protections standing in the way of a new era of extreme media consolidation, following his moves last week to erase rules preventing local media concentration.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group stands to benefit the most from an increase in the cap. Its proposed $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media, now under review at the agency, would give it control of 233 local TV stations reaching more than 70 percent of the country. But other large broadcasters like Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV stations, Nexstar and Tegna have also lobbied for a higher cap.

Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

"Ajit Pai has no shame. After his legally dubious maneuvers to dismantle local media-ownership limits were approved last week in a party line vote, he's doubling down on a proposal to overturn national ownership limits he has no actual authority to change. He has teed up for elimination the last remaining firewall against completely unchecked media consolidation.

"Changing this limit should require congressional action, but Pai doesn't care. He'll do whatever it takes to clear the way for Sinclair to swallow up stations wherever and whenever it pleases. And unless Pai's stopped, Rupert Murdoch and a few other moguls will go on their own buying sprees too.

"The result will be one or two dominant broadcasters in every market, deep job cuts for journalists, and an influx of cookie-cutter content and right-wing propaganda. This spells disaster for local news and the communities it's supposed to serve. Congress must step in, stop this power grab and recognize the serious threat Pai's actions pose to our democracy."

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Previously:
* Item: Former Trump Aide Joins Sinclair.

* Trump's FCC Chair Continues To Shaft The Public, Offer Major Handouts To Big Media.

* Trump-Friendly Sinclair's Takeover Of Tribune TV Stations Brought To You By Trump's FCC Chairman.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* 'Maybe The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'

* A Pair Of Decades-Old Policies May Change The Way Rural America Gets Local News.

* Tribune's Disastrous Sale To Sinclair.

* Lawmakers Demand Answers About FCC's Favoritism Toward Sinclair.

* Can Anyone Stop Trump's FCC From Approving A Conservative Local News Empire?

* Sinclair's Flippant FCC Ruling.

* FCC Presses Sinclair For Answers On Tribune Merger.

* Trump FCC Eliminates Local Broadcast Main Studio Requirement In A Handout To Sinclair That Will Harm Local Communities.

* Trump's FCC Chairman Announces Plan To Scrap Media Ownership Limits Standing In Way Of Tribune-Sinclair Mega-Merger.

* Lisa Madigan et al. vs. Sinclair-Tribune.

* Local TV News Is About To Get Even Worse.

* Trump's Secret Weapon Against A Free Press.

* With Massive Handouts To Sinclair, FCC Clears Path To New Wave Of Media Consolidation.

* Trump FCC Opens Corporate Media Merger Floodgates.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

The Paradise Papers: The View From Africa And Asia

Today in the Paradise Papers: How Africa and Asia covered the Paradise Papers.

Dear Steve,

Welcome back! Today, we have an update on how our project has been reported in Asia and Africa. In Asia, there has been a slew of billionaires, political leaders and tycoons caught up in the millions of files. In Africa, the coverage has exposed some of the continent's most powerful politicians and companies.

We've also gone one-step further after adding close to 25,000 entities to our Offshore Leaks Database last week. Now, we've compiled all the documents we used during our reporting of the Paradise Papers project that we can make public.

Until next week!

Amy Wilson-Chapman
ICIJ's Community Engagement Editor

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Previously in the Paradise Papers:
* 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

* Just How Much Money Is Held Offshore? Hint: A SHIT-TON.

* Development Dreams Lost In The Offshore World.

* Keeping Offshore 'Hush Hush,' But Why?

* Tax Havens Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.

* Today In Tax Avoidance Of The Ultra-Wealthy.

* Go To Town With This Offshore Leaks Database.

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

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

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

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

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

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

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

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

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

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

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

* Watch Out For The Coming Tax Break Trickery.

* When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Corporate Tax Break.

* The Hypocrisy Of Corporate Welfare: It's Bigger Than Trump.

* Oxfam Names World's Worst Tax Havens Fueling 'Global Race To Bottom.'

* Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Small Business $5,789 A Year.

* State Tax Incentives To Corporations Don't Work.

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

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Previously in the billionaires' loophole:
* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

* Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

Safely Stuffing Family Starts With Safely Stuffing Birds

It's called by a variety of names around the United States: stuffing, filling and dressing. No matter the name, though, it is a favorite for Thanksgiving and through the holiday season. This side dish typically goes by the first.

The ingredients used in stuffing are often regional. While it usually has a bread mixture base, other ingredients such as grains, pasta, fruits, vegetables, shellfish, sausage, giblets and nuts are also used. Stuffing can be spooned into the cavity of whole poultry or a pocket cut into a solid piece of meat, or spread on a flat piece of meat and then rolled.

However, because stuffing is an excellent medium for bacterial growth, it's important to handle the ingredients and final dish safely, and cook it to a safe minimum internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer.

foodsafety-stuffing-preparation.jpgSlice of Chic/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Here are a few common questions asked about making stuffing.

How do you safely prepare stuffing? According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture guide, stuffing should not be mixed and stored in advance; rather, dry and wet ingredients can be prepared ahead of time and chilled. The USDA cautions against mixing wet and dry ingredients until just before spooning the stuffing mixture into a poultry cavity, in/on other meat, or into a casserole.

If using a whole turkey, chicken or other bird, the stuffing should be spooned in loosely at a ratio of about three-quarter cup per pound of poultry. The stuffing should be moist, not dry, because heat destroys bacteria more rapidly in a moist environment.

How do you safely cook stuffing? Immediately after preparation, the stuffed meat, poultry or casserole should be placed in an oven set to 325°F or higher. As cooking progresses, a food thermometer should be used to ensure that the stuffing reaches the safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. If stuffing has not reached a safe temperature when the meat itself is done, it should continue to be cooked until it reaches 165°F.

When cooking a stuffed turkey, both the meat and stuffing should reach at least 165°F, at which point the bird should be removed from the oven.

The cooked turkey should be allowed to stand 20 minutes before removing the stuffing and carving the meat.

What about making stuffing in a slow cooker? Cooking stuffing separately offers optimal safety and uniform doneness of this dish - the USDA suggests that one way to do this is to use a slow cooker.

To ensure the best preparation, several steps need to be followed:

  • The uncooked stuffing needs to be very moist.
  • The slow cooker should be filled loosely to no more than two-thirds full.
  • The lid should fit tightly on the slow cooker.
  • The stuffing should cook on the high setting for at least one hour before the setting is reduced to low.
  • The stuffing should cook until the center reaches 165°F as measured with a food thermometer.

A slow cooker's manual may offer approximate times for preparing stuffing. Additionally, frozen stuffing (or other frozen foods) should never be placed in a slow cooker.

A two-hour rule also applies to leftovers - cooked turkey and stuffing should be refrigerated within two hours to avoid bacteria from multiplying in room-temperature food. Leftover stuffing should be eaten or frozen within 3-4 days.

Questions about safely preparing Thanksgiving dinner can be directed to the food safety experts at the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).

Thanksgiving chefs can also chat live in English and Spanish through the USDA's "AskKaren" service.

The USDA also provides handy fact sheets on safe stuffing practices in English and Spanish.

Barbara Ingham is a food science specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. This post was originally published on WisContext, a partnership between Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television and Cooperative Extension.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

November 21, 2017

The [Thanksgiving 2017] Papers

Beachwood HQ is now closed for the holiday. I'll still be active on social media, and I may post a few new pieces elsewhere on the site, but I'm not planning on writing a column until Monday.

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New on Thursday . . .

The FCC Is About To Ruin The Internet
Red alert, people.

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New on Wednesday . . .

Safe Stuffing
Because stuffing is an excellent medium for bacterial growth, it's important to handle the ingredients and final dish safely. Here's how.

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The African & Asian Paradise Papers
A slew of billionaires, political leaders and powerful companies caught up in the millions of files.

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FCC Wraps New Gift For Sinclair
A move that will likely result in the removal of even more safeguards designed to protect localism, diversity and competition over the public airwaves.

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New on Tuesday . . .

Fan Note: Malcolm Young's AC/DC
'As I waited in line that night for the Tilt-a-Whirl at the Last Fling Carnival in Naperville, I became acutely aware that my ass was being kicked.'

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State Board Of Elections Puts Voter Data At Risk
In a partisan vote.

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Record Waterfowl Along Mississippi Flyway
Get thee to the Two Rivers National Refuge in Illinois and Missouri - more than 350,000 birds, ducks and geese are there right now.

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TurkeyGram

Gobble Gobble Motherfuckers. #happythankgivings #chicagothanksgiving @caitlin_allen11

A post shared by Sissy Anne Quaranta (@misssissyq) on

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TurkeyBook

In Yemen's 60 Minutes Moment, No Mention That The U.S. Is Fueling The Conflict.

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Is This Professor 'Putin's American Apologist?'

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Sudden Shift At Public Health Journal Leaves Scientists Feeling Censored.

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Mexican Mother Feeds The Homeless Of Little Village And Pilsen.

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Fire The Liar: An Ode To Forrest Claypool.

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McDonald's Plans To Tear Down Its Des Plaines Museum.

Why not put it on Chicago's lakefront? Can someone mock that up for me?

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Turkey TweetWood

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"News website."

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It's true.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Turkey trot.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

Record Waterfowl Count Along Mississippi Flyway

Ducks love national wildlife refuges. Refuges provide the perfect place for migrating waterfowl to rest and feed as they head south for the winter. Right now, one of the best places to spot record breaking numbers of waterfowl is Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri and Illinois.

Two Rivers is an important stopover for hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese each fall. Right now more than 350,000 birds are utilizing refuge habitat. Established in 1958 to protect and enhance habitat for migratory birds, Two Rivers is located between the Mississippi River and Illinois Rivers and encompasses 9,225 acres of riverine and floodplain habitat scattered around the confluence of the rivers.

MixedDucks.jpgNorthern pintails, gadwalls and mallards in flight over wetland/Photo courtesy of Steve Gifford

October and November are the best months to see fall migration. You'll easily be able to see thousands of waterfowl feeding in shallow wetlands of the Calhoun Division and on Swan Lake. Two Rivers has more than great birding - it's the perfect place for recreation, including hiking, biking, paddling, hunting and fishing.

Who's stopping at Two Rivers?

Each week during fall migration, biologists from the Illinois Natural History Survey fly over the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers to count the number of waterfowl in the Mississippi Flyway. This year, waterfowl counts have been particularly impressive. This is the third largest count at this location since the start of surveys back in 1948 and is the largest count of northern pintail and ring-necked ducks ever recorded on the refuge.

NorthernPintail.jpgNorthern pintail on the water/Mick Thompson, CC

These counts are more than impressive numbers - they help define general trends in the number of waterfowl resting and feeding at Two Rivers and other neighboring national wildlife refuges. Survey results are used by managers, hunters and birdwatchers to monitor the progress of migration. Counts also give biologists a sense of how healthy refuge habitats are and how restoration work is benefiting birds. Check out the latest waterfowl numbers from the Illinois Natural History Survey and plan your visit to Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge today!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:24 AM | Permalink

State Board Of Elections Puts Voter Data At Risk

Illinois voter data is still at risk of misuse and hacking, after the Illinois State Board of Elections failed Monday to approve a motion to exit the controversial Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program. The vote broke down along partisan lines, with four Republican members voting to stay in the flawed program while four Democratic members voted to leave.

The four who voted to stay were appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner, who in March announced a major state cybersecurity initiative.

Crosscheck is a national voter verification program operated by Kansas election officials. It collects voter registration information from participating states and "crosschecks" the data to find duplicate registrations. Recent research by Indivisible Chicago has exposed numerous security flaws and raised questions about how the data is used.

In response to Indivisible Chicago's revelations, Kansas officials have just announced plans to redesign their system. Notwithstanding this redesign, which will involve unknown changes and unknown costs, Indivisible Chicago says Illinois' continued participation is a mistake.

Indivisible Chicago suggests that to protect Illinois voters, the Board should:

  • Focus on ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center, another voter verification system in which Illinois already participates. ERIC is free of Crosscheck's security and data-quality flaws. Illinois should continue to use it and encourage surrounding states to do the same.
  • Refrain from sending any Illinois voter data to Crosscheck until its flaws are repaired, an independent security assessment is completed, the new costs of the system are known, and a new vote is taken on whether to continue participation in the modified program.
  • If remaining in the program, ensure that the known data quality problems are rectified, that participating states are following the National Voter Registration Act, and the system is managed by a non-partisan body.

Indivisible Chicago's research on this issue has revealed major security problems with Crosscheck. Usernames and passwords to critical systems and encrypted files have been e-mailed in plain text; the server used to transmit and store 100 million voter records does not implement any encryption protocols; the firewall protecting this data is misconfigured.

While the SBE and Kansas have previously sought to minimize the seriousness of these security lapses, the fact that policies and systems are now being changed clearly acknowledges that for years the system has in fact operated under outdated and irresponsible security practices.

Indivisible Chicago also found serious deficiencies in the quality of Crosscheck data. Illinois receives approximately 230,000 "potential duplicate registrants" records every year that do not match on the last four digits of social security number. This would be a simple matter for Crosscheck to correct. The failure to remedy such an obvious flaw only helps to perpetuate the impression that one aim of the program is to produce highly inflated numbers of "potential duplicate registrants" to serve Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's fantasy of wide-scale voter fraud.

Indivisible Chicago thanks the SBE for considering this important matter and for taking seriously the security vulnerabilities of the Crosscheck program. We will continue to work with the SBE to monitor upcoming changes in the system. Likewise, we will continue to work with our legislators and the SBE to ensure voter data is adequately protected, to increase transparency in how voter rolls are maintained, and to ensure that Illinois' data is never used to disenfranchise voters in neighboring states.

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See also:
* Washington Post: This Anti-Voter Fraud Program Gets It Wrong 99 Percent Of The Time.

* Rolling Stone: The GOP's Stealth War Against Voters.

* Statesman: Idaho Will Revisit Being Part Of 'Sloppy' Voter Fraud Program.

* Gizmodo: Even A Novice Hacker Could Breach The Network Hosting Kris Kobach's Bogus Voter Fraud Program.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 AM | Permalink

Fan Note: Malcolm Young's AC/DC

I vividly recall the first time I heard AC/DC.

It was 1978, and I was waiting in line at the Tilt-a-Whirl at the Last Fling Carnival, a Naperville Labor Day weekend tradition. The carnies were classic biker types, taking tickets, running the rides and cranking music out of an eight-track player lined through huge, heavy bass-end speaker cabinets.

I was 17, a "classic rock" fan just getting into new wave - a typical example of one who had older brothers who were into the original great bands of the '60s (with the notable exception of The Who). I was a diehard Stones fan, loved guitar bands, and as I waited in line that night for the Tilt, I became acutely self-aware: my ass was being kicked (cue Artie Fufkin).

My ears, my soul and my ass honed in on this intense, two-guitar groove, tight as I've ever heard, pulsing steady, square in the pocket. The singer's voice was that of an acid crocodile, utterly unique. But it was the guitars that had me transfixed. It wasn't heavy metal, it was hard rock. "That sounds like the Stones!" I thought to myself. It was extraordinarily hypnotic. I asked the carnie what it was.

"AC/DC. Powerage."

And I was on it.

That album, produced by Harry Vanda and George Young, the oldest of the Young brothers, had a direct (some American critics said rough), solid sound, perfectly lacking in extras, nothing to get between the instruments and the ear.

I simply could not get enough of the intricate interplay between guitarists Malcolm and Angus Young. I compare it to the interplay between Keith Richards and Brian Jones (compare their live "Route 66" to AC/DC's live "Bad Boy Boogie;" Richards, himself a keen AC/DC fan, still cites Powerage as his personal favorite).

The bass playing was simplistic but absolutely appropriate for the style. The idiosyncrasies of Bill Wyman or the voluptuousness of John Entwistle would have been wrong, like Keith Moon playing for the Beatles. Bon Scott had a voice like no other. I did not concern myself too much with the lyrics (from clever to crass to offensive in a single bound).

And so began my journey. I had to turn my friends onto this stuff.

The next album, Highway to Hell, was produced by Mutt Lange and had a brighter, more polished overall sound, but the basic boogie remained intact. That album became a party staple, along with standard Beatles/Stones/Who (I found them through peers) but also Tom Petty, Bob Seger, REO, the Clash, Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads. My friends and I got into the habit of not only bringing albums to parties but also the stereo system itself, the better to control the set list. I made sure Highway to Hell got into heavy rotation.

In 1979, AC/DC were on a bill with Cheap Trick, the Babys, Molly Hatchet and Steve Dahl & Teenage Radiation at the Rockford Fairgrounds for the Fourth of July. As kismet would have it, one of our classmates had an "in" with the promoters: they were looking for kids to serve at the concession stands and if you were willing to work a few hours, you could get backstage.

And we were on it!

At the time, I was trying to get to any concert of interest that I could get to, and would often bring along my mother's 35mm camera. I had tons of enthusiasm and absolutely no skill with the thing, but enthusiasm turned out to be enough.

I was maybe a half-hour into slinging Cokes in the ramshackle hut they'd set up for "concessions" when AC/DC took the stage. Once again, it was like nothing I'd ever heard before. The power, the groove, the attack quite literally overwhelming. I said "FUCK this!" and snuck out the back of the hut, camera around my neck, and went out into the general admission area in front of the stage.

Behold! Angus Young and band, tearing the place to shreds. In the now-classic schoolboy outfit and the now classic head-banging thrust of neck and hair, he was all over the place. At one point, he disappeared, only to re-appear atop the 50-foot speaker stack at stage left. I think of the phrase "whirling dervish."

But that was only possible because of stoic Malcolm, holding down the fort, shaping the riffs, directing without directing, an anchor. No anchor, no dervish. Angus got the attention but Malcolm did most of the heavy lifting. And I've always favored "rhythm" guitarists: Chuck Berry, John Lennon, Jimmie Vaughan. Malcolm defined the type: Riff Master.

With my "Concession" T-shirt I was able to get backstage after their set, hell-bent on getting some pictures. The backstage vibe was a little strange: Cheap Trick, specifically, had roadies telling me and mine that No Pictures were allowed. From afar, I took one anyway, and you could see Rick Nielsen in full regalia, the visually outstanding Tricker the way Angus was the visual hook to AC/DC. The Babys were dandies, wafer-thin, the most clearly "rock star" dressed of the bunch, and even now I wouldn't know a Molly from a Hatchet.

The vibe around AC/DC's trailer was decidedly different. To say they "dressed down" would be an understatement. Only Angus had to change out of stage clothes. Nobody gave a damn if I took pictures or not. At one point, I saw Phil Rudd and Malcolm Young walk by and I felt comfortable enough to snap a few shots.

mal.jpg

Then I asked Malcolm: "Can I get a shot of Angus?" He casually pointed right behind me and as I turned, ladies and gentleman, Angus Young!

angus.jpg

I put the camera to my face, aimed it at him a few feet away, and he gave me a classic Stones Tongue gape. He stopped, and we had a bit of a chat. "Man, you really sweat it out on stage," I said stupidly, as one does in these cases. "Yeah, man, I drink a lot of tea before." Relaxed, unassuming, no airs, just another cool dude.

I asked if my buddy could take a picture of us together. "No problem."

jj&angus.jpg

That was more than enough and I didn't want to bother him more so we moved on.

I got another shot into their trailer, Bon, Mal and Phil.

bon, mal, phil.jpg

That was my first backstage experience, and by far the most relaxed of them all. Most of the other times, with notable exceptions (the Stones '07, in fact, believe it or not), security created a hostile vibe.

AC/DC came to the Aragon Ballroom in the fall, and we drove up from Illinois State to be there. Once again, no special effects, no giant octopi or small second stage, just the band and us freaks. It was the last show I would see with Bon Scott; he died a few months later.

Then we get Brian Johnson, Back in Black and they become superstars. Black, again produced by Mutt Lange, added a true third dimension to their guitar sound (a sound into which they essentially locked from then on). It was definitely in heavy rotation in Watterson Towers at ISU, and when AC/DC came there to play at Braden Auditorium, we got sixth-row seats. My ears literally rang for days.

Back in Black's "Rock & Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" says it all about what a refined touch Malcolm had: taste, time and chime. Thick riffs, hard breaks, slow but swinging. It's got to swing, and that was, to me, one of Malcolm's signature gifts.

After the next album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You, I sort of lost the plot, let it go, until their recent resurgence before Malcolm's dementia diagnosis.

Over time, with the help of Google and YouTube, one comes to find that Malcolm may have seemed quiet, but he wasn't. He ran the show, in effect. Once, when challenged by an interviewer who suggested that after Back in Black, they made 12 more versions of that album, Malcolm wasn't having it: "THIRTEEN, mate!"

Now that Malcolm has passed, I think of that first encounter with the Monster Groove, that low-key, fan-friendly backstage atmosphere allowing me to get some great bad photos, and those riffs, man - solid, sure, steady through time. I mean to salute a true master.

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Previous Fan Notes:
* Fan Note: Confessions Of A Radiohead-Head

* Fan Note: Shawn Phillips Is The Man.

* Fan Note: Me & Metallica.

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Submit your own Fan Note.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

November 20, 2017

The [Monday] Papers

I'm thankful that this year is almost over, though I know that's just an artificial construct. I'm not sure who's had it worse in 2017, me or the Bears. What a shitshow.

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New On The Beachwood Today via Twitter

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InstaChicago

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BeachBook

The Making Of An American Nazi.

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Great Lakes Endangered Shorebird Has Record Year.

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The Myths Of The Top 1 Percent: What Puts People At The Top.

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Bill James On War, Judge And Altuve.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Zero tolerance.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:25 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Junglepussy at Thalia Hall on Sunday night.


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2. Nadia Tehran at Subterranean on Thursday night.

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3. Alice Glass at Subterranean on Thursday night.

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4. Nolife at Subterranean on Thursday night.

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5. Montrose Man at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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6. The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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7. Lost Society at the Forge in Joliet on Saturday night.

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8. Children of Bodom at the Forge in Joliet on Saturday night.

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9. Uncured at the Forge in Joliet on Saturday night.

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10. Carach Angren at the Forge in Joliet on Saturday night.

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11. Nightmre at the Aragon on Sunday night.

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12. The Cell Phones at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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13. Jimmy Herring at the Vic on Friday night.

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14. Halsey at the Rosemont arena on Sunday night.

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15. RXM Reality at Peanut Gallery on Saturday night.

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16. Highly Suspect at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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17. The Revolting Cocks at the Metro on Friday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Good Willsmith at the Empty Bottle on November 15th.

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Lupe Fiasco at the House of Blues on November 15th.

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Shallow State at the Forge in Joliet on November 12th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 PM | Permalink

The Connor Barf Game

"The Chicago Bears play in a lot of tight games," Jeff Dickerson writes for ESPN Chicago.

"They also find ways to lose most of those games, too.

"Missed field goals, dropped touchdown passes, late defensive breakdowns . . . the Bears have touched them all in the maddening John Fox era (12-30).

"Chicago now has three losses of six points or fewer in 2017.

"The Bears dropped a combined 12 games by six points or fewer in 2015 and '16 . . . Chicago is 3-13 in NFC North games under Fox."


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"[I]nexplicably, Cohen wasn't on the field for the final drive of the game. Neither was Howard. And neither was tight end Adam Shaheen, who led the team with four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown Sunday," Adam Hoge writes for WGN-AM.

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"What happened against the Lions is it became impossible for general manager Ryan Pace to find a justification for retaining John Fox and his staff beyond this season," Hub Arkush writes for Pro Football Weekly.

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"If the assignments and responsibilities [of the two-minute drill] are so difficult as to preclude the participation of three critical players, something is either wrong with the offensive package, the person teaching it or both," Dan Bernstein writes for CBS Chicago.

"Coach John Fox did his part on that drive, too, by allowing critical time to bleed off the clock for no discernible reason and then declining to try to get Barth closer with eight seconds left. A lack of understanding of how to manage his sideline - both the clock and replay challenges - will be a notable memory of his tenure whenever it comes to an end, the irony being that those are rare things we can actually identify as something Fox does, and he's often bad at them."

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The Tribune's Brad Biggs on The Score on Monday morning: "This is the consequence of waiting until Year 3 to make a move at quarterback."

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Mike Mulligan on The Score on Monday morning: "It's Pace's responsibility."

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Brian Hanley on The Score on Monday Morning: Gives Pace's job performance a "D."

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Bears Twitter:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Pace Pivot

I had a chance to take in most of the Eagles-Cowboys game Sunday night. I tuned in expecting to see Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott play better than he had the week before and former Bear receiver Alshon Jeffrey step up his game for Philadelphia.

Neither happened (although Jeffery did grab a touchdown) as the Eagles gave the Cowboys a 37-9 thumping. And so the storyline I've been pushing - that Bears general manager Ryan Pace is the primary culprit for the Bears' difficulties due to his dubious decisions in the draft and free agency - took a bit of a double hit.

Prescott is still better than Connor Cook, the quarterback Pace wanted in the fourth round in last year's draft. When Cook was selected before the Bears had drafted, the Bears made one, two, three picks in the round without taking a quarterback before the Cowboys took Prescott just before the fifth round began.

But doubts about Prescott's potential are starting to creep in. There are some excuses, with suspended star running back Ezekiel Elliott on the bench along with injured star left tackle Tyron Smith for both of the last two games. But with those guys out, Prescott had a chance to show he could find a way to win on his own. He has not been close.

I focused on the night game after the now 3-7 Bears kicked away a 27-24 contest to the Lions during the afternoon. Their season was essentially over before that game and it is definitively over now.

Pace had said early in his tenure that the quarterback position was important enough for a team to consider taking one every year. Then he went and didn't take one in his first two drafts. It is not surprising that in his third draft he panicked and made an unprecedented trade of three draft picks to move up one slot in the first round. There he drafted Mitch Trubisky second. A good general manager could have traded down to draft Clemson's Deshaun Watson, who starred for Houston as a rookie earlier this year before suffering a season-ending injury, and added at least one pick to the three that weren't given away.

Pace looked especially loopy last year, as Prescott stepped in for an injured Tony Romo and was so good that even when Romo was better, Prescott stayed at the helm of a team that went 13-3 in the regular season. But like we said, questions are starting to swirl around the second-year signal-caller.

Jeffrey was the leading wide receiver that Pace gave away for nothing in free agency this year. The Bears have been terrible at the position but it looks more and more like Jeffery was and is not the answer. If ever a guy was going to prove he was a star you would think he would do it with the high-flying Eagles offense. Led by stellar second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, Philadelphia turned in its latest stellar performance, posting 30 unanswered points in the second half.

We are past the halfway point of the season now and it is clear that Jeffrey is just another cog in the 9-1 Eagles' high-performance offensive machine. It is just about crystal clear the Bears were right not to give him a big-money contract.

But they could have franchised him for a year. And they had enough cap space to do it. One can't help but believe Mitch Trubisky's first season would have been a lot better with Jeffery as an option on one side.

Anyway, I still believe Pace should share the blame. But the reality is, the Bears are highly unlikely to tear everything up again at the end of this campaign. The fans started to speak with their actions on Sunday, with 10,145 no-shows for the Bears' resumption of the forever divisional rivalry with the Lions.

The home team only plays two more games at home this season and they are against two of the only three teams in the league that have a worse record than the Bears - the Browns and the 49ers. If there were a great deal of empty seats on Sunday afternoon, just wait until those stellar match-ups.

And don't look now but the Hawks have won a couple games in a row. The pivot to caring most about hockey will happen especially early in the winter sports season this time around.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

The Rest Of The Jim Rivera Story

Shortly after White Sox reliever Jerry Staley threw a game-ending double-play ground ball at Cleveland's mammoth Municipal Stadium, preserving a 4-2 White Sox victory to clinch the 1959 American League pennant, the fun began in the White Sox clubhouse.

And for good reason. The Sox hadn't won a pennant since the infamous 1919 season. Only home day games were telecast in those days, but WGN made an exception on that particular September 22. Signing off, the venerable Jack Brickhouse used his signature closure, "That's it for a little while," adding, "But what an 'it.'"

Fire Commissioner Robert Quinn infamously set off the air raid sirens in celebration. Please remember: Nikita Khrushchev was the Russian tyrant in those days at the height of the Cold War. Vladimir Putin is Snow White in comparison. Sox fans might have understood the origin of the sirens, but Cub diehards and those uninterested mistakenly headed for their basement bunkers.

And there was Jungle Jim Rivera, by that time a 37-year-old reserve outfielder for the South Siders, cavorting in front of his teammates, a fedora atop his pate, in a one-man conga line. After chasing the Yankees for a decade, the Sox had finally come out on top.

Rivera died last week at age 96. He came to the Sox via a trade in 1952 and managed to hang around for 10 seasons, primarily because he hustled and was the epitome of intensity and effort. The over-used phrase, "He's good in the clubhouse," could have been invented for Jim Rivera.

He never occupied the star-studded status of guys like Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio and Minnie Minoso, but he was an exciting, endearing presence. Rivera led the league in triples one year with 16; he quite possibly was the first player to use the head-first slide - the sabermathematicians don't keep track of such things; his 25 stolen bases were tops in the American League in 1955. And he could track down a fly ball better than most.

Inserted as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the '59 Series, Rivera ranged far into right center to snag Charlie Neal's long drive with two men on, preserving the Sox's 1-0 triumph over the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax.

Rivera gained attention off the field as well. He was renown on the ballclub as the most astute devotee of the cinema. Rumor was that on some days on the road, he would take in two films. He was the Roger Ebert of the Chicago White Sox.

He also told the story, apparently witnessed by teammates, when the Sox were playing in Kansas City, about when he came upon former president Harry Truman outside the ballpark after the game. "Hi, Harry," said the affable Rivera. "Where's Bess?"

On another occasion, he chided John Kennedy for poor handwriting on a baseball that the president threw out in Washington to kick off the season against the White Sox. Rivera caught the ball and asked JFK to sign it. Rivera preferred more legible penmanship and told the president so.

Yet other off-field events were far less amusing and have been conveniently omitted from Jungle Jim's obituaries. In fact, had he been a potential major leaguer today, Rivera might never have donned a big league uniform.

Rivera joined the Army in 1942, and two years later, he was charged with the rape of an Army officer's daughter. Even though the charge was reduced to attempted rape, Rivera was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

As implausible as it sounds, baseball literally saved the man's life. Playing on prison teams against outside competition, Rivera attracted attention as a very talented athlete. So much so that the owner of the independent minor league Atlanta Crackers - how's that for a nickname? - engineered Rivera's release with the promise that he would be signed to a contract. In three seasons of minor league baseball, Rivera hit .341 before the St. Louis Browns purchased the 30-year-old's contract before the 1952 season. That July, White Sox general manager Trader Frank Lane brought him to the South Side in one of the many deals he made as he built the Sox into a contender in the '50s.

Rivera's troubles, however, followed him to Chicago. Near the end of the 1952 season, another rape charge was lodged against him, although Rivera contended that the sex was consensual. He even took a lie detector test, which he passed, and all charges were dropped.

In the absence of registries for sex offenders - it wasn't until 1990 that that information was made available to the public - Rivera was able to escape the scrutiny, shame,and restrictions that he would encounter today. You might argue that, given a second chance, he made something of himself. I suspect his alleged victims wouldn't agree.

How would the commissioner's office handle a player like Rivera today? No doubt quite differently.

In 1984, I traveled to Angola, Indiana, where Rivera lived with his second wife, who was a native of the small Northeastern Indiana town near Fort Wayne. Jungle Jim was the proprietor of Captain's Cabin, a lovely little bar and restaurant overlooking a scenic lake. I was there to help tape a segment for a WGN-TV show called Once A Star.

My memory was that Rivera was very much in his element - relaxed, telling stories and reminiscing about his teammates and days on the South Side. Years later he appeared with other players from the '59 club for a pre-game ceremony during the 2005 World Series.

Jim Rivera.JPGRivera at Captain's Cabin.

When he died last week, the Sox website proclaimed, "It was amazing to see the friendship and camaraderie among those men whenever they gathered together at a Sox game, even if it was decades after they last played together. We imagine they are having quite a clubhouse meeting today. We extend our condolences to . . . the entire Rivera family on his passing."

And there you have it. But what an it.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:49 AM | Permalink

College Presidents Enable Abuses Of Greek Life

A few days after headlines exploded about yet another university president suspending Greek life activities after yet another hazing death, a group of college presidents sat around a dinner table expressing concern about bad behavior at fraternities.

But somehow, they couldn't help singing their praises as well.

Fraternities foster a sense of belonging. Their members do community service and care about social welfare. They boost retention and graduation rates. They raise money for charity and provide vast alumni job networks. They add value to the college experience. It's wrong to generalize from a few bad actors.

These rationalizations for Greek life on campus came up during last week's annual gathering of presidents of mostly large public universities and journalists at the Penn Club, organized by Arizona State University. Guests included Louisiana State President F. King Alexander, who presides over a campus reeling from the death last month of 18-year-old freshman Maxwell Gruver.

Over dinner, LSU President Alexander noted that he'd immediately suspended Greek life after Gruver's death and set up a task force to study it, but at the time, he'd made sure to add a supportive statement: "Many of our Greek organizations represent all that is good about our university."

At the dinner, he acknowledged that "there are bad actors . . . but I know what good [fraternities] do and I value what they do. You can't generalize and say Greeks aren't doing good things."

It's getting harder to appreciate the good. Reports of the events leading to Gruver's death at LSU are sickening: During a night of drinking at the Phi Delta Theta house, which has since been shuttered by the national chapter, Gruver was reportedly ordered to recite the Greek alphabet, pelted with hot sauce and mustard and forced to chug hard liquor if he messed up.

Gruver died at a nearby hospital with a blood alcohol level of .495, more than six times the legal intoxication level in most states. Ten students have since been charged with hazing at LSU, and one with negligent homicide. Two more fraternities have since been suspended for infractions, six have been removed from campus and seven are on some form of probation.

Greek organizations own $3 billion in real estate on 800 U.S. campuses, while their leaders raise more than $20 million a year.

Hazing horrors and their accompanying headlines are becoming relentless. Just one week after the college presidents' dinner, sophomore Matthew Ellis, who was pledging the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at Texas State, died after attending an initiation event; the fraternity had already been under investigation by the university. That same day, I watched the parents of 19-year-old Beta Theta Pi pledge Timothy Piazza, a sophomore engineering major at Penn State, sob in front of television cameras at a news conference. Authorities had just released a previously deleted video revealing that their son had been given 18 drinks in 82 minutes, before falling down a set of stairs and fracturing his skull.

"They left him to die alone," James Piazza said. Seventeen former Beta Theta Pi members face numerous charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, and as of Monday, five other Beta Theta Pi members now face legal consequences. James Piazza and his wife Evelyn have repeatedly spoken out and - unlike some college presidents - they aren't equivocating.

PiazzaFamily.jpgJames Piazza, right, seated with his wife Evelyn, center, and son Michael, left, discussing the death of his son, Penn State University fraternity pledge Tim Piazza, during an interview in New York. Bebeto Matthews/AP

"We need parents talking to their kids about this,'' Piazza said during a news conference. "We need parents to put their foot down and say, 'You must not do this.' We need parents to stop encouraging their children to get involved in fraternity antics like hazing."

I went back to look at remarks Penn State University President Eric Barron made after the first grand jury indictments last May. He condemned the incident, but included praise, noting that "all indicators suggested Beta Theta Phi was a model fraternity - the house, privately-owned and situated like all other fraternity houses on private property, was beautiful, the subject of a multi-million dollar renovation; both the Beta alumni and the national organization provided strict rules of behavior; and, the brothers had a no-alcohol policy which stated that anyone caught drinking would be expelled."

All benefit of the doubt was gone by Monday, when additional charges were announced; a university statement noted that disciplinary process was underway for "32 individuals related to the tragic death of Timothy Piazza."

At Texas State, President Denise Trauth immediately suspended activities of all Greek fraternity and sorority chapters, but also announced a review process "for reinstating fraternity and sorority chapters that demonstrate a commitment to the core values of Texas State and the ideals established by their respective national organizations."

As the mother of two college students whose schools don't have fraternities, I've had no need to warn my sons about their dangers, but I hope other parents will hear the Piazzas. I'd also suggest reading Bloomberg News reporter John Hechinger's scathing new book True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America's Fraternities. Had I not read it, it might have surprised me to hear a group of college presidents taking such a cautious defense of fraternities after so many recent hazing tragedies.

Hechinger's book helps explain how college presidents struggle to beat back the "unholy trinity," of drinking, misogyny and racism at fraternities, where one of six men who attend a four-year college in America belong. Fraternity alumni are often big donors who offer job and networking pipelines to former members.

Hechinger - whose late father Fred Hechinger was an education editor at The New York Times and is the namesake of The Hechinger Report - writes that college presidents "have reason to fear for their jobs," when they take on fraternities; they may find themselves "confronting a determined adversary that is well-financed, politically connected, and capable of frustrating the most dogged investigators."

Case in point: In 2013, former Trinity College president James F. Jones announced he would step down a year earlier than expected, under fire from alumni who withheld donations and threatened a lawsuit after Jones banned pledging, cracked down on alcohol and pushed for co-educational pledge classes at the Hartford, Connecticut campus.

Meanwhile, the list of recent hazing horrors seemingly grows. (Professor Hank Nuwer at Franklin College in Indiana keeps a database that goes back to the 1960s.) Last spring, four young men pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Baruch College freshman Chun Hsien Deng, who was blindfolded, forced to wear a backpack weighted with sand, pushed to the ground and knocked out. Earlier this fall, a University of Oklahoma student suffered a brain injury during hazing.

And just last week, Florida State announced it would suspend Greek life, after the death of 20-year-old Pi Kappa Phi pledge Andrew Coffey, a junior engineering student from Georgia who was found unresponsive at an off-campus residence after a night of drinking at the Phi Delta Theta house.

The national chapter has since revoked the frat's charter, and Florida State President John Thrasher shut down Greek activities indefinitely at 55 fraternities and sororities. Coffey's family supports Thrasher's efforts and thanked him, but his strong stand has led to a backlash from parents: Thrasher recently told the Chronicle of Higher Education that some parents had accused him of ruining their children's cultural life by shutting down Greek life. Thrasher added in an interview that he was "flabbergasted" during Parents Weekend when he saw parents drinking shots with students - some of whom appeared underage - at a local bar.

When college presidents can't stem the horrid hazing, we have to hope that students step in. That's what happened earlier this month at the University of Michigan, when a student-led council suspended Greek activities after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, hazing, hospitalizations and drug use, including a 'Champagne and Shackles' event, where dates at a party were handcuffed to each other until they finished a bottle of champagne.

Hechinger says colleges can do more to reform and hold fraternities accountable, starting with "collecting and making public any information about alcohol-related hospitalizations associated with local chapters."

In the meantime, listen to parents like Evelyn Piazza, grieving for her shy, athletic, red-headed son Timothy, at a Penn State news conference last week.

"It is really important for people to see the damage, the far-reaching damage, that has occurred because these young men decided to protect themselves instead of Tim,'' she said. "They have destroyed so much; they have destroyed our joy."

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, an independent news outlet focused on inequality and innovation. Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:27 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2017

The Weekend Desk Report

Saturday events of note:

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Sunday events of note:

I'm meeting our very own Scott Gordon for lunch at noon at Cafe Mustache - stop by! I'll probably be there all day. In fact, I'm there right now and will probably be here all day Saturday.

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Trump FCC Opens Corporate Media Merger Floodgates
What is the potential impact in Chicago? Assignment Desk, activate!

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Parquet Courts, Meat Wave, Ghostmane, Peter Yarrow, Ne Obliviscaris, Allegaeon, Fire Toolz, Gel Set, Mukqs, Flying Lotus, Fit For An Autopsy, Lydia Loveless & Todd May, Foreigner, Pedestrian Depot, Belmont, The Boundless, Hilding, and Black Heart Procession.

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InstaChicago

1001 North Branch #chicago #gooseisland #creativeoffice #pickenskane #historicarchitecture

A post shared by R2 Companies (@r2_companies) on

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BeachBook

When Chicago magazine turned 40: Our tribute. Rated "F" for Funny.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Like a rose.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:18 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Parquet Courts at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.


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2. Meat Wave at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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3. Ghostmane at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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4. Peter Yarrow at the Arcada in St. Charles on Sunday night.

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5. Ne Obliviscaris at Reggies on Thursday night.

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6. Allegaeon at Reggies on Thursday night.

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7. Fire Toolz at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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8. Gel Set at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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9. Mukqs at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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10. Flying Lotus at the Riv on Tuesday night.

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11. Fit For An Autopsy at the Concord on Sunday night.

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12. Lydia Loveless and Todd May at the Hideout on Thursday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Pedestrian Deposit at the Hideout on November 8th.

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The Boundless at the Burlington on November 11th.

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Belmont at Township on November 11th.

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Black Heart Procession at the Empty Bottle on November 10th.

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Hilding at Studio IC on November 11th.

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Foreigner at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond on November 11th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

Trump FCC Opens Corporate Media Merger Floodgates

In "an awful new low" that elicited warnings about "a new wave of media consolidation," the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday rolled back media ownership regulations under the guise of trying "to modernize its broadcast ownership rules & to help promote ownership diversity."

"Any pretense that this vote will help journalism or increase ownership diversity is cynical and offensive," said Free Press president and CEO Craig Aaron, warning that the move will "lead to more mergers, more layoffs, and more communities that have no news outlets in place to cover important stories and hold officials accountable."

In response to Thursday's move by the FCC, Aaron's group vowed to fight the decision and initiated a campaign to file suit.

"The FCC just wiped away time-tested and common sense safeguards that promote vibrant local media by ensuring voters have access to competing sources of news," said Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner and current special adviser for Common Cause. "There is no credible rationale for this odious decision which runs flagrantly afoul of the public interest."

The approved order:

  • Eliminates newspaper/broadcast and radio/television cross-ownership rules, which imposed restrictions on owning multiple media outlets in the same market;
  • Relaxes rules about local television ownership, including joint sales agreements, which allow a company to control news operations at several stations in one market, where stations would typically compete against each other; and

Similar to the FCC decision last month to revise rules about local studio ownership - which was called a "death sentence for local media" - critics charge that the rollback is just the latest "massive handout" large media companies, including Sinclair Broadcast Group, a major conservative broadcasting company with widely reported ties to Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

The new rules are expected to help Sinclair move forward with a proposed a $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media, which would enable the company to reach 72 percent of the U.S. population. The merger must be approved by the FCC.

"Once again, this FCC majority is serving the interests of Trump-connected firms, namely Sinclair and Tribune," said Copps, calling the rollback "disgraceful."

"Chairman Pai has warped FCC policies and process to accommodate the creation of a Trump-friendly local-television conglomerate," said Aaron. "The Sinclair Broadcast Group's unabashed goal is to monopolize local-television markets and push its pro-Trump brand of propaganda over the public airwaves."

"You don't have to dislike Sinclair's politics to see what's wrong with this deal," Aaron added. "Anyone who believes in a functioning democracy can see it's a terrible idea to let one company amass this much media power."

In recent weeks, Democratic lawmakers have requested that Pai delay the vote and recuse himself until the FCC inspector general's office has a chance to thoroughly reviews the chairman's ties to the merger and possible conflicts of interest. Despite attempts to halt the vote, the rollback passed along party lines, with the FCC's two Democratic commissioners strongly dissenting.

"These media giants will have degrees of power far beyond the imagination of our local communities," Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn told The Hill. "Mark my words, today will go down in history as the day when the FCC abdicated its responsibility to uphold the core values of localism, competition, and diversity in broadcasting."

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

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Previously:
* Item: Former Trump Aide Joins Sinclair.

* Trump's FCC Chair Continues To Shaft The Public, Offer Major Handouts To Big Media.

* Trump-Friendly Sinclair's Takeover Of Tribune TV Stations Brought To You By Trump's FCC Chairman.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* 'Maybe The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'

* A Pair Of Decades-Old Policies May Change The Way Rural America Gets Local News.

* Tribune's Disastrous Sale To Sinclair.

* Lawmakers Demand Answers About FCC's Favoritism Toward Sinclair.

* Can Anyone Stop Trump's FCC From Approving A Conservative Local News Empire?

* Sinclair's Flippant FCC Ruling.

* FCC Presses Sinclair For Answers On Tribune Merger.

* Trump FCC Eliminates Local Broadcast Main Studio Requirement In A Handout To Sinclair That Will Harm Local Communities.

* Trump's FCC Chairman Announces Plan To Scrap Media Ownership Limits Standing In Way Of Tribune-Sinclair Mega-Merger.

* Lisa Madigan et al. vs. Sinclair-Tribune.

* Local TV News Is About To Get Even Worse.

* Trump's Secret Weapon Against A Free Press.

* With Massive Handouts To Sinclair, FCC Clears Path To New Wave Of Media Consolidation.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

November 17, 2017

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #176: Broken Bears; Cubs' Seven-Year Itch

Browns West. Plus: Davey Martinez Came Cheap; White Sox Acquire Fireballer; Blackhawks Circus Trip Lives!; and Bulls Circus Lives.


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SHOW NOTES

* 176.

:08: The Ultimate John Fox Fail.

* Punt Pace, too.

* Jahns: Ryan Pace Deserves A Chance To Pick The Next Bears Coach.

"McCaskey and Phillips valued Fox's history of quick turnarounds, but Pace also was clear about his intentions to rebuild through the draft . . . "

* Mulligan: Fire John Fox? It's More Complicated For The Bears.

* The [Michael McCaskey] Papers.

* John Fox, everybody.

35:55: The Cubs' Seven-Year Itch.

* Wittenmyer: "Two more deep October runs and a franchise-changing World Series later, he stirs as much criticism as his four most recent predecessors combined . . ."

WHAT?

* Rogers: "[I]t's clear that Mallee would still be with the Cubs if Davis hadn't been available . . . "

* Addison Russell's domestic violence case: still open.

* When the Cubs tried to sign Masahiro Tanaka. (Scroll down)

* Theo's 7-Year Itch. (Scroll down)

* Levine: Cubs Hold Preliminary Discussions With Orioles About Zach Britton.

1:03:40: Davey Martinez Came Cheap.

1:04:18: White Sox Acquire Hard-Throwing Thyago Vieira From Mariners.

1:05:02: The Circus Trip Lives!

1:07:01: Bulls Circus Lives.

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STOPPAGE: 9:24

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:29 PM | Permalink

Go To Town With This Offshore Leaks Database

Today in the Paradise Papers: You can explore thousands of Paradise Papers files!

Dear Steve,

It's finally here! Today, we give you access to the first lot of Paradise Papers data with thousands of new records added to our Offshore Leaks Database.

Don't forget - tell us what you find!

The secrecy of the offshore world was also highlighted by the revelation of an Isle of Man trust fund linked to Nelson Mandela. The trust existed in near-total secrecy until 2015, when lawyers representing Mandela's estate tried to wrest control of its million-dollar bank accounts.

Meanwhile, in Europe, members of the EU have been urged to clamp down on tax avoidance schemes. Experts from the United Nations also said law firms facilitating tax avoidance should assume their responsibility.

The ICIJ team.

P.S. Database projects like this and our investigations are labor intensive and rely on innovative technology. ICIJ is fully funded by donations of all sizes. You can help us deliver another project like this one by making a donation today.

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Previously in the Paradise Papers:
* 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

* Just How Much Money Is Held Offshore? Hint: A SHIT-TON.

* Development Dreams Lost In The Offshore World.

* Keeping Offshore 'Hush Hush,' But Why?

* Tax Havens Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.

* Today In Tax Avoidance Of The Ultra-Wealthy.

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

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

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

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

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

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

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

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

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

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

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

* Watch Out For The Coming Tax Break Trickery.

* When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Corporate Tax Break.

* The Hypocrisy Of Corporate Welfare: It's Bigger Than Trump.

* Oxfam Names World's Worst Tax Havens Fueling 'Global Race To Bottom.'

* Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Small Business $5,789 A Year.

* State Tax Incentives To Corporations Don't Work.

-

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

-

Previously in the billionaires' loophole:
* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

* Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:07 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"NORTHBROOK, Ill. - Irene Rosenfeld, the chief executive of the snack food maker Mondelez International, wandered through an ocean of processed foods one day recently, admiring her handiwork. The center aisles of Mariano's, an upscale supermarket near the Mondelez headquarters, were stuffed with her company's creations - Oreos, Wheat Thins and Ritz crackers," David Gelles reports for the New York Times.

As Ms. Rosenfeld prepares to step down as chief executive next week after 11 years leading Mondelez and its predecessor, she reminisced about a career spent trying to increase sales of cookies, candies and chips - and reflected on shifting consumer preferences that are demanding fresher, healthier foods than the ones she championed for so long.

"I set out to create the world's greatest snacking company," she said. "But the legacy I'm most proud of is the ethos of this company, where individuals care about one another, they have each other's back and they care about the world they live in."

LOL. See when Rosenfeld was Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

*

"She has focused on building shareholder value successfully by increasing margins with no dewy-eyed nostalgia over changing conditions," Yale business professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld told the Times.

Allow me to translate: Rosenfeld boosted profits by acting heartlessly toward her employees - many of whom lost their jobs in her efforts to satisfy insatiable shareholders and pad her own obscene compensation.

*

Or, to put it another way: She made herself and a handful of others a lot richer by firing a bunch of folks!

*

"In the wake of a flurry of sexual harassment revelations in the business world, Ms. Rosenfeld encouraged female professionals to have a zero-tolerance policy for abuse. 'Do what in your heart you know is right,' she said. 'It is easy to get caught up in your ambitions, but no job is worth not being true to yourself.'"

Is she saying women who are harassed should curtail their ambitions and leave their jobs because it's just not worth it to, um, stay and continue to be harassed? Shouldn't it be the company that has a no-tolerance policy?

*

Finally, Gelles and the Times credit Rosenfeld for the name "Mondelez" instead of mocking her for it. C'mon!

-

Beachwood Sports Radio: Broken Bears; Cubs 7-Year Itch
Featuring JB Pritzker and Syd Barrett. Plus: Davey Martinez Came Cheap; White Sox Acquire Fireballer; Blackhawks Circus Trip Lives!; and Bulls Circus Lives.

-

Media Consolidation About To Get Even Worse
"A national scandal."

-

New Offshore Leaks Database
Go to town, people!

-

The Week In Chicago Rock
Is in pre-production.

-

#FlashbackFriday

Ode To An Eyesore.

*

El Warnings.

*

Bad, Bad Dorothy Brown.

-

InstaChicago

#flicksonflash #fridgemagnet ##wip

A post shared by FLASH ABC MARS (@flash_abc) on

-

BeachBook

U.S. Soldiers 'Killed Afghan Civilians For Sport And Collected Fingers As Trophies.'

*

U.S. Response Further Confuses Kunduz Strike.

*

Julian Assange, WTF?

*

61 People Have Left Chicago's EPA Office This Year.

*

Medical Journal Editors Get Healthcare Industry Payments.

*

Wisconsin Makes It Easier To Condemn Private Property For Pipeline Expansion.

-

TweetWood
A sampling.

Would anything be disqualifying? If your daughter was fondled? Murder? Just tell me where the line is.

*

Why don't you just tell me what game you've selected . . .

*

*

There's still three people (and 20 malls) in Alabama the Washington Post hasn't interviewed, so we don't have all the facts yet.

*

-

The Beachwood Tronc Line: Rhymes with Orange Julius.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

With Massive Handouts To Sinclair, FCC Clears Path For New Wave Of Media Consolidation

The Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines Thursday to erase several longstanding media ownership limits that prevented one broadcast company from controlling too much media in a single market.

The agency rolled back a local television ownership rule that barred a broadcaster from owning multiple stations in smaller local markets and weakened the standards against owning more than one top-rated station in the same market.

The FCC also gave its blessing to so-called joint sales agreements, or JSAs, which allow a single company to run the news operations of multiple stations in a single market that would otherwise compete against each other. The vote also overturned the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules, which prevented a single company from owning a daily newspaper, TV and radio stations in the same market.

Today's moves clear the way for the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group's proposed $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media, a deal government agencies including the FCC are now reviewing. Should regulators approve the merger, the resulting broadcast giant would control more than 233 local TV stations reaching 72 percent of the country's population, far in excess of national limits set by Congress on broadcast TV ownership.

The FCC's vote culminates a series of agency moves to directly benefit Sinclair and allow the company to keep more stations after the merger with Tribune. In April, the FCC reinstated the so-called UHF discount, an obsolete loophole that helps Sinclair skirt those congressionally mandated ownership limits. In October, the FCC voted to eliminate the "main studio rule," which required TV and radio broadcasters to maintain studios in or near the communities they serve.

Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

"Today's FCC vote should be a national scandal. Chairman Pai has warped FCC policies and process to accommodate the creation of a Trump-friendly local-television conglomerate. The Sinclair Broadcast Group's unabashed goal is to monopolize local television markets and push its pro-Trump brand of propaganda over the public airwaves.

"Chairman Pai and his Republican colleagues want us to ignore the nightmarish impact of media consolidation on local communities and once-thriving newsrooms. They would have us believe that the path to more diversity is fewer voices and viewpoints; the path to more competition is fewer competitors; and the path to more localism is greater distance from the communities broadcasters are licensed to serve.

"Sinclair's unabashed goal is to move toward a drastically consolidated news market in which only a few broadcast goliaths can afford to compete. And the result of today's actions will be a new wave of media consolidation as other firms race to keep up. Any pretense that this vote will help journalism or increase ownership diversity is cynical and offensive. Today's vote will lead to more mergers, more layoffs and more communities that have no news outlets in place to cover important stories and hold officials accountable.

"You don't have to dislike Sinclair's politics to see what's wrong with this deal. Anyone who believes in a functioning democracy can see it's a terrible idea to let one company amass this much media power. The FCC has abandoned its responsibilities to protect the public interest, and people won't stand for it.

"Free Press will take the FCC to court to challenge today's vote, as we have in the past when the agency weakened its ownership rules. The FCC has again failed to run a fair and transparent process, listen to public input, do the necessary research, or answer for how gutting these rules will impact the already abysmally low levels of broadcast ownership by women and people of color.

"The FCC has repeatedly lost in court on this very issue for ignoring these concerns. It can't keep ignoring them and hope to escape court scrutiny and public outrage."

-

Previously:
* Item: Former Trump Aide Joins Sinclair.

* Trump's FCC Chair Continues To Shaft The Public, Offer Major Handouts To Big Media.

* Trump-Friendly Sinclair's Takeover Of Tribune TV Stations Brought To You By Trump's FCC Chairman.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* 'Maybe The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'

* A Pair Of Decades-Old Policies May Change The Way Rural America Gets Local News.

* Tribune's Disastrous Sale To Sinclair.

* Lawmakers Demand Answers About FCC's Favoritism Toward Sinclair.

* Can Anyone Stop Trump's FCC From Approving A Conservative Local News Empire?

* Sinclair's Flippant FCC Ruling.

* FCC Presses Sinclair For Answers On Tribune Merger.

* Trump FCC Eliminates Local Broadcast Main Studio Requirement In A Handout To Sinclair That Will Harm Local Communities.

* Trump's FCC Chairman Announces Plan To Scrap Media Ownership Limits Standing In Way Of Tribune-Sinclair Mega-Merger.

* Lisa Madigan et al. vs. Sinclair-Tribune.

* Local TV News Is About To Get Even Worse.

* Trump's Secret Weapon Against A Free Press.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

November 16, 2017

The [Thursday] Papers

"Fare hikes have become routine for Metra riders after four consecutive annual increases. But the hike approved by Metra's board last week is different. It comes with service cuts, marking the first time in many years that the commuter rail agency has reduced service for financial reasons. Along with $17 million in fare increases, Metra is eliminating or curtailing a handful of trains," Joe Cahill writes for Crain's.

Sure, the cuts will affect only a relatively small number of commuters. But they're an ominous sign for an agency that needs to plug a $45 million budget gap for fiscal 2018 and address mounting long-term financial pressures exacerbated by recent state budget cuts. Metra officials warn that more service cuts may be needed if finances don't improve. "The current situation is unsustainable, and threatens the future viability of the important service Metra provides," Metra Chairman Norman Carlson said in a statement on the 2018 budget.

Fare hikes and service cuts are a poisonous combination for public transit. Riders defect as fares go up and trains run less often and make fewer stops. Declining ridership drives down revenues, leading to more fare increases and service cuts, in a self-perpetuating downward spiral that becomes harder and harder to stop as it gains momentum.

We can't let that happen to a vital public asset that distinguishes Chicago from most other U.S. cities. Metropolitan Chicago is one of the country's few population centers with an extensive commuter rail network linking its central business district with distant suburbs. Businesses, workers and the region as a whole benefit in many ways. "Metra is an unappreciated gem," says public transit expert Joseph Schwieterman, director of DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

At the same time, the RTA wants the CTA to raise fares:

"In what could be a sign that a CTA fare hike is likely, the head of the Regional Transportation Authority warned the transit agency that it should join Metra and Pace in raising 2018 fares - or risk massive service cuts," the Tribune reports.

Leanne Redden, executive director of the state agency that oversees the three transit authorities, said in a letter last week to CTA President Dorval Carter that the transit agency had not offered "clearly identifiable and reliable revenue streams" to close the hole in its proposed 2018 budget. Because of this, the RTA would not be able to approve it under state law, Redden wrote.

If the RTA does not approve the CTA's spending plan, the budget cannot be adopted. The RTA also has final authority over Metra and Pace budgets. The lack of a budget after Feb. 1 would cause the RTA to withhold some funding, which would result in "immediate service disruptions," Redden warned.

All of which led our very own transportation expert Natasha Julius to recall the long-forgotten (and wrongly ignored) Quinn task force report:

Which makes it a good time to revisit Natasha's four-part "A Modest Transit Proposal" series.

-

Today's Beachwood Via Tweets

*

*

*

*

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InstaChicago

🎶👍🏿👊🏿🤘🏿#vinyl #chicago #25or6to4 @chicagotheband

A post shared by Emilie Hendrix (@emiliehendrix) on

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BeachBook

Rahm Emanuel Has Already Knee-Capped COPA.

*

Mayo Clinic's Immorality.

*

The Prison-Industrial Economic Development Complex.

*

RIP, Filter.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

I'm here for the replies/comments.

*

*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Courting.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:55 PM | Permalink

Today In Tax Avoidance Of The Ultra-Wealthy

Today in the Paradise Papers: New data!

Dear Steve,

Our work is not done yet, and we're back today with more fresh stories for you.

Today we released a story on another offshore law firm found in the Paradise Papers data - Asiaciti. The hundreds of thousands of leaked documents from the firm reveal the practices of the ultra-wealthy and the unremarkable.

In exciting news, we'll also release the first round of data from the Paradise Papers - adding it to our Offshore Leaks Database - this Friday.

Our journalists have also been reporting on the world's growing wealth inequality with Credit Suisse finding the top 1 percent - who are also the biggest users of offshore services - now hold 50.1 per cent of global wealth.

We also broke the news that U.S. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, would divest from Navigator Holdings after we revealed his Russian business ties.

We'll be back in touch on Friday!

The ICIJ team.

-

Previously in the Paradise Papers:
* 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

* Just How Much Money Is Held Offshore? Hint: A SHIT-TON.

* Development Dreams Lost In The Offshore World.

* Keeping Offshore 'Hush Hush,' But Why?

* Tax Havens Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.

-

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

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

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

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

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

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

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

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

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

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

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

* Watch Out For The Coming Tax Break Trickery.

* When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Corporate Tax Break.

* The Hypocrisy Of Corporate Welfare: It's Bigger Than Trump.

* Oxfam Names World's Worst Tax Havens Fueling 'Global Race To Bottom.'

* Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Small Business $5,789 A Year.

* State Tax Incentives To Corporations Don't Work.

-

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

-

Previously in the billionaires' loophole:
* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

* Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 PM | Permalink

Opioids In The Iditarod

"Stan Hooley, the CEO of Alaska's Iditarod acknowledged the race is in its darkest time after disclosing that four dogs belonging to a four-time Iditarod champion tested positive for the opioid painkiller tramadol in this year's race."


-

See also: Iditarod Doping Mystery: Who Slipped Tramadol To The Dogs?

-

Previously in doping:

* How Russia Hid Its Doping In Plain Sight.

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

* On Eve Of Olympics, Top Investigator Details Secret Efforts To Undermine Russian Doping Probe.

* Doping Probe: 'Unprecedented' Russian Corruption.

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

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

* Everyone's Juicing.

* Russia Walks Back Doping Admission.

* Amateur Doping.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 PM | Permalink

Trump's Secret Weapon Against A Free Press

Journalists in Manila had very little time to cover Monday's meeting between President Donald Trump and his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte. But it was enough to witness one aspect of the budding bromance between these two world leaders.

As soon as journalists began asking questions about Duterte's deplorable human-rights record, security shooed them from the room.

Duterte pointed at the departing reporters and said, "Guys, you are the spies."

This elicited a laugh from President Trump, who feels a kinship with anyone who opposes a truth-seeking press.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least 177 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1986, making it one of the deadliest countries to be a reporter. Of these, nearly half were targeted for their coverage of politics, corruption, crime and human rights, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Here at home, there's been a worrying uptick in attacks on journalists since Trump became president. The Press Freedom Tracker, the project of a large coalition of media rights groups including Free Press, documents the dozens of arrests and assaults on journalists in the last 10 months.

The link to Trump isn't coincidental. He's sucked up much of the oxygen of his presidency discrediting any journalism that challenges his grip on power or rattles his fragile ego. Alongside Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, reporters figure as go-to scapegoats for anything that ails Trump's bumbling administration. For Trump, a functioning Fourth Estate is the "enemy of the American people."

Trump's attacks on a democratic media are often impulsive, playing out on Twitter in the early morning hours or during his direct encounters with journalists. Media outlets on the receiving end of Trump's critique, including CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and NBC News, have devoted airtime and column inches to defend their reporters and the work they do every day.

But while Trump is attacking reporters on the front lines, he's quietly granting massive favors to any giant media company that's willing to toe the administration line. His lead henchman on this front, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, has operated more discreetly to restructure media policy to suit a handful of news conglomerates.

Pai has scheduled an agency vote for today to undo several of the media ownership limits that currently prevent one company from controlling too much media in a single market.

Pai wants to destroy the cross-ownership rules that typically prohibit a single company from owning a newspaper, television and radio stations in the same broadcast area. He also seeks to undo a local television ownership rule that bars a broadcaster from owning multiple stations in smaller local markets.

Pai also wants to give the FCC's full blessing to broadcasting arrangements known as joint sales agreements, which allow a broadcast company to run the news operations of multiple stations in a single area that would otherwise compete against each other.

The one corporation that most immediately stands to benefit most from this wholesale rollback of ownership limits is the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is seeking FCC approval of its proposed $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media - a deal that would create a broadcast giant controlling more than 233 local TV stations reaching 72 percent of the US population.

Sinclair routinely orders its local affiliates to run segments featuring its chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn, a loyal former Trump aide who's brought the president's agenda to the public airwaves. Back in June, for example, Epshteyn praised the White House for attempting, however briefly, to phase out on-camera press briefings, suggesting without explanation that people are much better off for it.

In another he slammed CNN for its "constant coverage [of] the Trump-Russia narrative," adding that other cable news networks were "struggling to stick to the facts."

Just last week, Sinclair deployed a reporter from its Alabama station, WBMA, to attack the credibility of the Washington Post article detailing Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore's alleged sexual assault on a 14-year-old. The Sinclair reporter claims to have spoken with "a lot of voters" in Alabama who all say they don't believe the Post article.

"Out of all the voters we spoke with Friday in Columbiana, we didn't find one voter who believed the Washington Post report about Moore," the WBMA reporter told viewers.

The segment, however, featured interviews with just three voters. A more scientific poll conducted by JMC Analytics found that 38 percent of Alabamians were less likely to vote for Moore as a result of the Post's revelations.

In a recent op-ed for the New York Times, Pai wrote that removing ownership limits will clear the path for better local journalism. That's true only if you consider Sinclair's product to be better, local or actual journalism. It's none of these.

The company specializes in syndicated news content it can produce cheaply in a central studio and ship out to affiliates across the country. Its ongoing efforts to consolidate stations under a single owner has led to fewer journalists at individual stations and less local reporting. And its attempts at journalism often resemble propaganda, typified by must-run commentaries that parrot the Trump line.

Pai plans to move today to remove these final obstacles to Sinclair's merger. But he won't stop there.

Pai is also making good on Trump's 2014 attack against net neutrality. At the time, Trump claimed in an incoherent tweet that the principle that protects the open Internet from blocking and censorship was itself a form of censorship that would "target conservative media."

This isn't even remotely true. Net neutrality does just the opposite: It ensures that neither the company that sells you internet access nor the government can block speech.

But that hasn't stopped Pai, who has long opposed open-Internet safeguards. In his first public-policy speech as FCC chairman, he launched a proceeding to unwind the Obama-era net neutrality protections. He's charged ahead despite millions of comments from Democrats and Republicans alike urging the chairman to preserve net neutrality.

An FCC vote on Pai's plan to destroy the open Internet could happen as early as Dec. 14. His proposal would erase the essential online protection that allows reporters to gather and disseminate information without fear of interference from entrenched internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.

From the country's founding, our laws and leaders have been charged with protecting our right to diverse, open and democratic media, acknowledging the fundamental need for speech that's free of government and corporate interference.

Net neutrality protections extend these principles to the online world. Because of this, dozens of the world's leading press freedom groups have endorsed net neutrality and called on the FCC to protect the open Internet.

They've also urged Pai to take a forceful stance on behalf of the First Amendment and renounce President Trump's frequent attacks on the media.

But Pai has only offered a weak response, saying he believes in the First Amendment while demonstrating no desire to act on behalf of those it's designed to protect. He'd rather devote his tenure at the FCC to enabling the Trump administration's assault on a free press.

This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.

-

Previously:
* Item: Former Trump Aide Joins Sinclair.

* Trump's FCC Chair Continues To Shaft The Public, Offer Major Handouts To Big Media.

* Trump-Friendly Sinclair's Takeover Of Tribune TV Stations Brought To You By Trump's FCC Chairman.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* 'Maybe The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'

* A Pair Of Decades-Old Policies May Change The Way Rural America Gets Local News.

* Tribune's Disastrous Sale To Sinclair.

* Lawmakers Demand Answers About FCC's Favoritism Toward Sinclair.

* Can Anyone Stop Trump's FCC From Approving A Conservative Local News Empire?

* Sinclair's Flippant FCC Ruling.

* FCC Presses Sinclair For Answers On Tribune Merger.

* Trump FCC Eliminates Local Broadcast Main Studio Requirement In A Handout To Sinclair That Will Harm Local Communities.

* Trump's FCC Chairman Announces Plan To Scrap Media Ownership Limits Standing In Way Of Tribune-Sinclair Mega-Merger.

* Lisa Madigan et al. vs. Sinclair-Tribune.

* Local TV News Is About To Get Even Worse.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

Song Of The Moment: Alabama


I've been to Alabama, people, ain't a whole lot to see;
Skynyrd says it's a real sweet home, but it ain't nothing to me

         - Molly Hatchet, "Gator Country"


Artist: Neil Young

Released: 1972

Album: Harvest

Length: 4:02

Label: Reprise

Charts: No. 4 in the Billboard Hot 100

Wikipedia: "Guest musicians David Crosby and Stephen Stills added a soulish harmony to it."

Lyrics:

Oh Alabama
The devil fools
with the best laid plan.
Swing low Alabama
You got spare change
You got to feel strange
And now the moment
is all that it meant.

Alabama, you got
the weight on your shoulders
That's breaking your back.
Your Cadillac
has got a wheel in the ditch
And a wheel on the track

Oh Alabama
Banjos playing
through the broken glass
Windows down in Alabama.
See the old folks
tied in white ropes
Hear the banjo.
Don't it take you down home?

Alabama, you got
the weight on your shoulders
That's breaking your back.
Your Cadillac
has got a wheel in the ditch
And a wheel on the track

Oh Alabama
Can I see you
and shake your hand.
Make friends down in Alabama.
I'm from a new land
I come to you
and see all this ruin
What are you doing Alabama?
You got the rest of the union
to help you along
What's going wrong?

*

Original.

*

Live.

*

In Chicago at Farm Aid, 2015.

*

Cover by Broken Arrow at Cookoo's Nest in Cary, Illinois, 2012.

-

Previously in Song of the Moment:

* Iron Man
* The Story of Bo Diddley
* Teach Your Children
* Dream Vacation
* When The Levee Breaks
* I Kissed A Girl
* Theme From Shaft
* Rocky Mountain High
* North to Alaska
* Barracuda
* Rainy Days and Mondays
* Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
* Baby, It's Cold Outside
* Man in the Mirror
* Birthday Sex
* Rio
* My Sharona
* Alex Chilton
* Surfin' Bird
* By The Time I Get To Arizona
* Heaven and Hell
* Sunday Bloody Sunday
* Lawless One
* Tell It Like It Is
* The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
* Lake Shore Drive
* On, Wisconsin!
* Anarchy in the U.K.
* Ballad of a Thin Man
* White Riot
* Know Your Rights
* Chicago Teacher
* Youngstown
* Over The Cliff
* Almost Gone (The Ballad of Bradley Manning)
* Party at the NSA
* V.E.N.T.R.A.
* Plutocrat (The Ballad of Bruce Rauner)
* Fight The Power
* Baltimore
* Go, Cubs, Go!
* 16 Shots
* Black Superman
* Smack My Bitch Up.

-

Plus:
* Mayor 1%.
* Songs Of The Runoff.

-

See also:
* Songs of the Occupation: To Have And To Have Not
* Songs of the Occupation: Johnny 99

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

Lakes, Cheese And You

Pizza, phosphorous and algae in Wisconsin's lakes.


-

Previously in Wisconsin:

* Wisconsin Cheese Production Continues To Grow.

* Wisconsin's Specialty Cheesemakers May Be Better Off Than Other States.

* Tips For Growing Blueberries In Wisconsin.

* Amid A Boom, Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Look To Future Markets.

* The Top 10 Wisconsin Insect Trends Of 2016.

* Wisconsin's Penokees Are A Geologic Gem.

* Wisconsin Researchers Aim To Make Cows Happier.

* Wisconsin And The Extinction Of The Passenger Pigeon.

* The Life Of Land After Frac Sand.

* Blueberry Maggot Fly Poised To Expand In Wisconsin.

* Efforts To Boost Marten Numbers In Wisconsin Meet Ongoing Failure.

* How To Raise A Pizza.

* RECALL! Wisconsin Pork Sausage Patties.

* Making The Most Of Wisconsin's Autumn Garden Harvest.

* Who Is Stealing Wisconsin's Birch?

* How To Harvest And Process Wisconsin's Edible Tree Nuts.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:09 AM | Permalink

November 15, 2017

The [Wednesday] Papers

"A Cook County special grand jury has been disbanded without charging any additional Chicago police officers, including department higher-ups, for their handling of Laquan McDonald's fatal shooting by an officer," the Tribune reports.

At a hearing Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said the grand jury that convened to look into the controversial shooting has completed its investigation.

That means no other officers - including higher-ups who signed off on allegedly false reports of the shooting - will be indicted.

The only indictment brought by the special grand jury charged just lower-level cops - a detective and two patrol officers - stopping short of criminally charging department higher-ups in the alleged cover-up, even though several had been recommended for firing by the city inspector general's office for their actions.

Like many, I'm sure, I'm puzzled - to put it mildly. Though not totally surprised, sadly. What gives?

*

"The charges allege that the three officers, together with Van Dyke himself, lied to exaggerate the threat posed by 17-year-old McDonald, who had PCP in his system and had damaged a police car while armed with a knife. The video showed the white officer shooting McDonald as the black teen walked away from police. Van Dyke and other officers had alleged that McDonald lunged at him with the knife.

"March and Walsh left the Police Department after city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson recommended their firing following his investigation of the shooting. Gaffney remains with the department but was stripped of police powers and placed on paid desk duty."

Here comes the important part:

The city has declined to make Ferguson's report public, but thousands of pages of records of that probe obtained by the Chicago Tribune months ago raise questions about police Superintendent Eddie Johnson's response to the inspector general's findings against top command officers.

Similarly, interim police chief John Escalante, whom Rahm Emanuel appointed to replace the scapegoated (but noxious) Garry McCarthy, signed off on police reports that clearly contradicted the infamous video of McDonald's killing that Escalante had seen. His punishment? A cushy landing at Northeastern Illinois University.

So, to summarize: In the wake of a scandal that threatened Emanuel's political career, he hired two police chiefs implicated in that very scandal and called it reform.

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"The documents [obtained by the Tribune revealed that Ferguson recommended firing Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy and Deputy Chief David McNaughton in addition to numerous lower-ranking officers.

Roy, who had supervised the department's investigation into McDonald's shooting, drew withering criticism from Ferguson's office. The inspector general placed blame for the detectives' allegedly false narratives on Roy, but Roy told investigators that responsibility for the reports fell largely to his subordinates.

In recommending that McNaughton be fired, the inspector general alleged that he had approved false police reports submitted by Van Dyke, Walsh and a third officer and revised a police news release to falsely state that McDonald was shot after he "continued to approach" the officers.

But Johnson never acted on the recommendations. Instead, Roy quietly stepped down as he neared the mandatory age for retirement. McNaughton, the highest-ranking officer at the scene of McDonald's shooting, also has since retired.

The records of Ferguson's investigation also detailed a meeting at police headquarters among the top brass about 10 days after the McDonald shooting. Among those at the meeting was Johnson, then a deputy chief who was later promoted to superintendent after then-Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired days after the video's release.

Lt. Osvaldo Valdez, who attended the meeting, later told the inspector general's office that "everyone agreed that Officer Van Dyke used the force necessary to eliminate the threat."

Everyone in that room who agreed to that should at least be fired, if not prosecuted, no?

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"In his interviews with the inspector general's office, March said that police brass shifted its stance on the shooting after the video was released and that no one had 'voiced any reservations or concerns' to him at the time of his investigation.

"I was informed the entire command staff concurred with the findings and conclusions of my investigation," he told investigators.

The entire command staff.

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I sure wish we knew more about what went on inside that grand jury. I sure hope reporters are trying to find out.

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Culture change starts at the top. Hiring Eddie Johnson, as I wrote at the time, (see the item Top Kop) was not a call for culture change.

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At first I thought this was a political gift for Rahm, but then I realized that instead the decision to close the proceedings without further indictments may only serve to inflame his opposition. The only problem: You can't beat someone with no one. I don't see a credible opponent at this time, and that's one of the saddest reflections of this city that I can think of.

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Previously:
* The [Laquan McDonald] Papers.

* Deconstructing Rahm's Mea Culpa.

"Misleading at best."

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #69A: The Media & Laquan McDonald.

"The reporting is still under review, but the pundits have already been convicted."

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #70: What The Laquan McDonald E-Mails Really Show.

"First and foremost, the e-mails show how Rahm's media shop manipulates outwitted reporters. Also: How City Hall spun settlement negotiations over the release of the infamous video, and allegations of witness coercion."

* The DOJ and Police Culture Change: Can it Happen in Chicago - Now?

"Here are some ideas for citizens, journalists and cops."

* And, of course, you can do a search for "Laquan McDonald" in ye olde Beachwood search bar over there on the right rail for our daily coverage of his murder and the aftermath.

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Chicago & The Chocolate Factory
"No one was hurt after a rooftop fire at Blommer's Chocolate Company, the factory behind most of Chicago's chocolate brands - and the reason parts of the city are filled with that tempting, sweet smell," Eater Chicago notes.

"Firefighter crews battled a rooftop fire for about 45 minutes, responding just before 2 p.m. Tuesday on the 400 block of North Jefferson Street. It's he second fire this month at the factory, which was evacuated on November 3. No one was hurt then, either."

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From the Beachwood vault:

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Gunther's Goggles
At the Chicago History Museum. Soundtrack by Styx.

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BeachBook

Evangelicals, Who Backed Trump To The Hilt, Are The Worst.

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Did Scrabble Champion Cheat?

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McDonald's Is A Big Fat McLiar.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Party line vote.

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Favorite reply/comment: "Why not just stick with Jewy McJew?"

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Jonathan Chait continues to be employed.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Reverse discrimination.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

Charles Gunther's Snow Goggles

Worn to prevent snow blindness.


"These goggles came to the museum from the collection of Charles Gunther, a German immigrant, successful candy maker, and collector of historical and anthropological artifacts.

"Over many years, he amassed a spectacular assortment of artifacts, ranging from the significant (the bed on which Abraham Lincoln died) to the fantastical (the skin of the serpent from the Garden of Eden).

"He operated a private museum above his candy store, and it's possible that these goggles were on display there. When Gunther died in 1920, the museum purchased a large portion of his collection."

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See also: CHS Treasure Trove Came From Little-Known Gunther.

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And here's Styx doing "Snowblind."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

November 14, 2017

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Speaking at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics on Monday night, former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile said that despite her criticisms of Hillary Clinton's failed 2016 presidential bid, her new book is 'a testament to how much I wanted her to win,'" the Sun-Times reports.

For more than an hour, Brazile spoke frankly and cracked jokes, while offering both critiques and defenses of her time at the helm of the DNC and of the party's strategies and leadership.

Her appearance at the Institute of Politics came as part of her tour to promote her new memoir on the 2016 presidential election.

The discussion was moderated by Institute of Politics fellow Fred Hochberg, a fundraiser for President Barack Obama, who later appointed him to serve as president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Perhaps a journalist would have moderated if the Institute of Politics was an honest broker instead of David Axelrod's vanity project.

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"Brazile said critics of her book have said she only wrote it to get paid. While she said that was not her primary motivation, she did concede that 'Mama has to eat.'"

Donna Brazile has an estimated net worth of $3 million.

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From the Beachwood Twitter vault:

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Poppy, Sweet Cobra, Cherubs, Black Anvil, Ted Leo, Sponge, Amigo The Devil, Trivium, Arch Enemy, CKY, HIM, Turnover, Styx, Kali Uchis, Avett Brothers, Blue Steel, Weird Beard, Krewella, The Kahless Clone, and The Nth Power.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 4.37.53 PM.png

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BeachBook

Biden's Bullshit.

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Facebook's Fact-Check Fail.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

In fact, accused of collusion.

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From the person who singlehandedly funds the state Republican party.

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Book Birds

Nouveau Larousse Elementaire, 1968

A post shared by Pilsen Community Books (@pilsencommunitybooks) on

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Reputed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

November 13, 2017

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Poppy at Subterranean on Friday night.


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2. Sweet Cobra at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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3. Cherubs at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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4. Black Anvil at the Forge in Joliet on Thursday night.

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5. Ted Leo at Thalia Hall on Sunday night.

A post shared by mrsiefert (@mrsiefert) on

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6. Sponge at the Brauerhouse in Lombard on Friday night.

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7. Amigo The Devil at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.

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8. Trivium at the Concord on Sunday night.

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9. Arch Enemy at the Concord on Sunday night.

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10. CKY at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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11. HIM at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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12. Turnover at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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13. Kali Uchis at Thalia Hall on Thursday night.

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14. The Kahless Clone at the Elbo Room on Saturday night.

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15. The Avett Brothers at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.

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16. Krewella at the Aragon on Friday night.

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17. Blue Steel at the Elbo Room on Saturday night.

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18. Weird Beard at the Elbo Room on Saturday night.

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19. Styx at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond on Friday night.

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20. The Nth Power at the Concord on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:01 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Peak Bears

A Chicago sports fan could turn to the Blackhawks on Sunday evening . . . yeah, that was the ticket. And here were the Hawks scoring one, two, three, four goals in the first period!

They gave one up late but still led 4-2 after 20 minutes. That was more goals than the Hawks had scored in most recent games. They were clearly building on the momentum started the night before, when they rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to beat Carolina 4-3 in overtime.

And then the Devils scored four before the end of the second. New Jersey went on to win 7-5.

Anyone have a Cubs trade rumor? Any more reports of White Sox prospects tearing up the, well, the fall leagues are over right? How about winter ball, has that begun?

We are now officially grasping for anything here at Beachwood Sports. But first we have to spend some time with the now 3-6 Bears after their abysmal 23-16 loss to the Packers.

I suppose John Fox has to go after this one. I will say, if they are going to dump him, it would be great if they would go ahead and do it now. Make Dowell Loggains the head coach and we can see for sure whether it is the ultra-conservative Fox forcing his offensive coordinator to deploy a crushingly careful game plan or not.

But beware overly simplistic prescriptions. My overall assessment of the Bears offense on Sunday is as follows:

The offensive line didn't play well enough, but on several occasions, the quarterback held onto the ball too long. The quarterback held it too long because at least most of the time, the receivers didn't get open. The receivers didn't get open but even if they had, the line too frequently didn't give the signal-caller enough time to find them.

And on and on it could go.

And that wasn't even the worst part of this game. The worst was the Bears' defense's inability to rattle Packer back-up quarterback Brett Hundley in any way shape or form.
And it wasn't just that Aaron Rodgers was out with a broken collarbone. By early in the third, the Packers were down to their third-string running back. The tight end who had shown the most potential to catch the most passes for the team in the first half of the season, Martellus Bennett, had been released in the middle of the week.

I have no idea what is going on here. Kind of like John Fox, who shouldn't be the solo fall guy for Ryan Pace's failures to draft and sign impact players in his three years as general manager, but almost certainly will be. If Fox goes so should Pace but very few people expect that to happen.

In the end, it comes back to the one, true problem yet again - the team is run by legacy owners who have never accomplished anything independently in their privileged lives and have no clue how to build a successful organization.

How long is it until pitchers and catchers report?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

Peak John Fox

"The blame for Sunday's inexcusable loss to the Green Bay Packers starts at the top with coach John Fox," writes ESPN's Jeff Dickerson in "Bears' Ugly Loss To Packers A Reflection On Their Coach."

"In his most important game as head coach of the Chicago Bears, John Fox flopped," WGN-AM's Adam Hoge writes. "In fact, he flopped spectacularly."

"Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers absolutely took the Bears' coaching staff to school," Pro Football Weekly's Hub Arkush said on The Score's post-game show.

And how.

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Browns West.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:02 AM | Permalink

Local TV News Is About To Get Even Worse

Considering the history of television news a few years ago, iconic anchor Ted Koppel declared that CBS' 1968 debut of 60 Minutes forever altered the landscape of broadcast journalism: A news program drew enough advertising to turn a profit. As Koppel told it, 60 Minutes showed broadcasters that news divisions could make money - which was a huge shift in how management executives thought of news, affecting both the quality and type of coverage broadcast over the publicly owned airwaves.

Until then, broadcast news in the U.S. had been a costly requirement media companies had to bear as part of getting permission to use the airwaves. "All of a sudden, making money became part of what we did," Koppel told the audience of a Frontline series called "News War."

In the decades since, news divisions have been held to the same profit-making standards as corporate media's entertainment divisions. Corporate owners slashed foreign bureaus as coverage remained focused on emotion and celebrity rather than public affairs.

In late October, the Federal Communications Commission made it even easier for media conglomerates to focus on money-making. That was when the FCC abolished a World War II-era policy that was intended to force news broadcasters to be connected to - and accountable to - the communities their programming reached.

My work as a political economist suggests that local broadcast media content is about to get worse, focusing even more on stories that can turn a profit for corporate headquarters rather than serving local communities. And the big companies that operate these stations are going to withdraw even farther from the communities they cover, threatening a key foundation of American democracy.

happynews.jpgKakigori Studio/Shutterstock

Connecting With Communities

The longstanding requirement, known as the "main studio rule," said television and radio broadcasters had to have local studios, where viewers or listeners could interact with and communicate with the people who were putting their news on the air. This was part of fulfilling the broadcasters' explicit obligation to use the airwaves to benefit society: As the Radio Act of 1927 put it, they had to operate in the "public interest, convenience and necessity."

That would help keep news decisions about schools, zoning, health, environment, emergencies and local issues connected to the community. It also helped encourage broadcasters to employ people who lived in the areas their signals reached.

In the decades since, the media landscape and technology both have changed dramatically. The FCC still assumes that broadcasters are local media because it issues station licenses in specific community areas. Yet the holders of those licenses are usually large conglomerates with centralized news operations sending homogenized programming out across the nation.

Advocates for eliminating the main studio rule - including the National Association of Broadcasters - note that most audience communications with media companies are online. They say that makes having a local physical office less important than it may once have been. Among the supporters of this view is FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed to the commission by Barack Obama in 2012 and tapped to head it by Donald Trump shortly after his inauguration.

Pai also raises another common argument against the main studio rule: its cost. In October he wrote that the policy change will reduce burdens on media companies and let them improve audience service accordingly: "eliminating this rule will enable broadcasters to focus more resources on local programming, newsgathering, community outreach, equipment upgrades, and attracting talent - all of which will better serve their communities."

The two Democratic members of the five-member FCC, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, dissented from their Republican colleagues' decision, objecting to the effects the ruling would have on local news. Clyburn wrote that the FCC's change "signals that it no longer believes those awarded a license to use the public airwaves should have a local presence in their community." Rosenworcel, for her part, wrote in a separate dissent: "I do not believe it will lead to more jobs. I do believe it will hollow out the unique role broadcasters play in local communities."

History has heard this argument before.

Promises Of Deregulation

As the lesson of 60 Minutes spread in the late 1970s and 1980s, news organizations and their corporate parent companies enjoyed massive windfalls, broadcasting content that was cheap to produce: It focused on thin happy banter between anchors rather than substantive hard-hitting reporting.

At the same time, media conglomerates including Time Inc., NBC owner General Electric and Comcast began heavily lobbying Congress and regulatory agencies like the FCC to roll back decades of media policies meant to help foster educational and informational needs of citizens in a democracy.

They found success when President Bill Clinton signed the sweeping Telecommunications Act of 1996. Then-FCC chairman Reed Hundt declared that with the act, "We are fostering innovation and competition in radio." He said the new law would increase diversity in both ownership of broadcast stations and the viewpoints they present. And he said it would create a space for more competition in the telecommunications marketplace that would, ultimately, benefit consumers.

But nine years later, a report from Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group Common Cause determined "the public got more media concentration, less diversity, and higher prices." Cable and phone rates didn't drop from competition, but skyrocketed with consolidation. Industry leaders' promises to add 1.5 million jobs turned into layoffs of more than 500,000 people. And Hundt himself 10 years later trumpeted not the improvements of service to the public, but rather the financial rewards reaped by corporations and their shareholders.

So now, more than 20 years after the act's passage, fewer corporations than before control a larger share of radio, broadcast and cable television in the United States. Many of those corporations have financial stakes in online media, too, meaning their reach and ideologies extend far beyond just television and the AM/FM dial.

The FCC's decision to roll back the main studio rule is yet another in a long line of policymaking and regulatory decisions that will further boost corporate media, not citizens.

A Pathway Into The Future

By eliminating the main studio rule, the FCC has severed one of the last remaining ties between broadcasters and local communities. (Others, including rules about media companies' consolidation, are on the chopping block.)

The body charged with ensuring media companies serve the public interest has opened the door even wider to treating news as a profit-motivated medium operated to benefit shareholders, rather than as a key element of American civic life.

Even before the FCC undid the main studio rule, the effects of the Telecommunications Act made local news more homogeneous and less diverse. This is particularly harmful for rural America, where just two-thirds of residents have regular broadband access at home - and only limited data services on their mobile smartphones. That means millions of Americans without regular internet access are relying on broadcast television as their sole form of entertainment and information about their communities.

The real question for citizens is simple: Did deregulation work? Is the quality of broadcast news better today than it was 20 years ago? Will it improve if companies' legal and regulatory requirements are loosened?

All Americans know the answer. And so does the FCC.

Margot Susca is a professorial lecturer at the American University School of Communication. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

"Corporate owners slashed foreign bureaus as coverage remained focused on emotion and celebrity rather than public affairs."

This happened in newspapers too; rather than using the revenue gained by the soft stuff like celebrity news to help subsidize the less advertiser-friendly hard news, corporations just stuck the profits in their pockets. Eventually, this backfired as newspapers started covering less and less hard news and withdrew coverage from large swaths of geographic areas and "undesirable" demographics; newspaper coverage itself became a marketing strategy, something newsrooms never quite understood. Reporters were now being used to create coverage that fit marketing plans. It continues to this day.

Also similar: This started when newspapers corporatized, after corporations learned just how massively profitable newspapers were. For more on this, see the invaluable book by former longtime Tribune Company editor James Squires' Read All About It: The Corporate Takeover Of America's Newspapers.

(This strategic corporate greed backfired by executives essentially looting their own treasuries instead of re-investing into their newsrooms and, more specifically, into R&D and innovation, leading to the kind of stasis that crippled print journalism's response to the Internet. Eventually many newspaper companies, overextended by borrowing to fund acquisition and consolidation schemes, ended up in bankruptcy court and/or shut down - though the folks responsible for these predicaments walked away having made themselves very, very, very rich.)

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:17 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

The Chicago skyline after climate change really kicks in.

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Peak Bears
Ha ha, we told you this was a trap-door game!

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PEAK JOHN FOX.

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Meanwhile, Jim "Coach' Coffman can't even.

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Local TV News Is About To Get Even Worse

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Is in pre-production.

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BeachBook

Louis C.K. And Hollywood's Canon Of Creeps.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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In every decade before that, too; particularly Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" in the '80s.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Pack it in.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 AM | Permalink

November 11, 2017

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Arch Echo at Reggies on Monday night.


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2. Jack & Jack at the Concord on Thursday night.

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3. Immolation at the Forge in Joliet on Thursday night.

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4. Mayhem at the Forge in Joliet on Thursday night.

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5. Lucero at Durty Nellie's in Palatine on Sunday night.

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6. Victor Wooten at City Winery on Sunday night.

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7. The Wrong Boys at City Winery on Sunday night.

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8. Josh Ritter at the Vic on Thursday night.

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9. Elbow at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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10. John Carpenter at the Aragon on Thursday night.

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11. LCD Soundsystem at the Aragon on Tuesday night.

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12. Good Friend at Cobra Lounge on Sunday night.

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13. Guns N' Roses at the big ol' hockey arena on Monday night.

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14. Gendron: Lucinda Williams Looks Back In A Transfixing Park West Show.

Video.

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Catching up with . . .

Tyler Childers at Schubas on November 3rd.

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Cris Jacobs at City Winery on November 4th.

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The Tim Reynolds 3 at City Winery on November 5th.

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Alvvays at Thalia Hall on November 3rd.

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Clearance at Cole's for Cuddlestock on November 3rd.

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Dumpster Babies at Cole's for Cuddlestock on November 3rd.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Today in the Paradise Papers: Tax havens alive with the sound of music.

Dear Steve,

You've probably become accustomed to finding rich people people, politicians, and luxury items such as jets and yachts in offshore tax havens. But how about your favorite music memories? Today we look at the music industry's link to offshore finance through music rights held in tax havens.

soundparadise.jpgThere were also a number of celebrities found in the Paradise Papers. Take, for example, Justin Timberlake, who was linked to an offshore company that bought property in the Bahamas.

shakiraparadise.jpgThe ICIJ team.

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Music Rights Found In The Paradise Papers.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: ArchEcho, Jack & Jack, Immolation, Mayhem, Lucero, Victor Wooten, The Wrong Boys, Josh Ritter, Elbow, John Carpenter, LCD Soundsystem, Good Friend, Guns N' Roses, Lucinda Williams, Tyler Childers, Cris Jacobs, Alvvays, Clearance, TR3, and Dumpster Babies.

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Wheaton Mosque Conducting Open House to Promote Peace
Fighting Islamophobia.

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Beachwood Sports Radio: Bears Trap Door Game
Don't sleep on Brett Hundley! Plus: The NFL's Tomato Cans; Martellus Bennett Is Bigger Than The Game, Y'All; Canadian GOAT: Marc Trestman; Cubs Hot Stove Burns; Dear Rick Hahn: Stay The Course!; An Analytics Story; Blackhawks Baffle; and Bobby Tortoise's Chicago Bulls.

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BeachBook

Blame The Victim? Domestic Violence As Covered By The Sun And The Guardian.

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Chicago Is Up Next.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 10.46.45 AM.png

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The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: It's time.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 AM | Permalink

Wheaton Mosque Conducting Open House to Promote Peace

The Islamic Center of Wheaton is organizing an Open Mosque Day on Saturday, November 18th, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the mosque located at 900 E. Geneva Road.

"The goal of this Open Mosque event is to invite our neighbors of all faiths, as it is a pressing need to have continuous programs such as these in as many communities as we can to help in the outreach messages of peace and understanding of each other. This is a way to help fight the rise of Islamophobia" said Sheikh Omer Haqqani, director of outreach at the Islamic Center of Wheaton. "This jointly held event with Dr. Sabeel Ahmed of GainPeace is a way to help people come visit the Mosque, and ask questions that concern them the most."

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 6.44.28 PM.png

There are great benefits to hosting such events, which are healthy to our communities along with our neighbors, helping build bridges to form alliances within our neighbors and communities.

The Open Mosque will be attended by many guests and public officials from the community.

Ala Fahmy, President of Islamic Center of Wheaton, urges neighbors and community members to join for this free Open Mosque event.

To RSVP, please call or text 630-709-3104, or RSVP here to help in logistical planning.

Media personnel are invited to record, interview and invite our leadership for further details about this Open House and other such outreach events.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

November 10, 2017

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #175: Bears Trap Door Game

Don't sleep on Brett Hundley! Plus: The NFL's Tomato Cans; Martellus Bennett Is Bigger Than The Game, Y'All; Canadian GOAT: Marc Trestman; Cubs Hot Stove Burns; Dear Rick Hahn: Stay The Course!; An Analytics Story; Blackhawks Baffle; and Bobby Tortoise's Chicago Bulls.


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SHOW NOTES

* 175.

2:25: Bears Trap Door Game.

* Shout Out To Randy Hundley!

* Say It Ain't So, Joe Fortunato.

* Demovsky: The More Brett Hundley Plays, The More His Trade Value Plummets.

* Houston Texans-Colin Kaepernick-Jerry Jones-Roger Goodell-Ezekiel Elliott Interlude.

* Deadspin: Ezekiel Elliott, Who Was Suspended, Un-Suspended, Suspended, Un-Suspended, Suspended, And Un-Suspended, Is Now Suspended Again.

16:30: Who Is Brett Hundley?

19:07: Who Is Mitch Trubisky?

21:12: The NFL's Tomato Cans.

* Post-podcast update: Barry Rozner on The Score Friday afternoon expressed bewilderment at the Chicago media's inexplicable love affair with Ryan Pace. Rozner noted that Phil Emery's record at a similar point in his general managership was far, far better than Pace's, and Emery was a dead man walking. Pace's record is truly awful, yet the local media depicts him as a genius.

Rhodes' theory: The media bought the Bears' bid this season to change the narrative on the Pace-Fox era from a "win-now" status evidenced by the hiring of a win-now coach and defensive coordinator (as we were told repeatedly three years ago) to a team rebuilding that deserved time to develop. Thus, covering Pace as if this is his first year and Trubisky is his first big draft pick - or maybe second behind Leonard Floyd.

P.S.: Rozner is also not impressed with Trubisky; says he's waiting to see that big arm he's heard about.

This is not to just validate Rozner, whom I'm not particularly a fan of, but to say that at least there is an alternate voice out there saying what some of the rest of us think, too.

29:13: Martellus Bennett Is Bigger Than The Game, Y'All.

* Post-podcast update.

32:49: Canadian GOAT: Marc Trestman.

* Lance Briggs: Chicago's A-Rod.

35:37: Cubs Hot Stove Burns.

* Anatomy of a Jason Heyward rumor.

* Go away, John Lackey.

46:02: Dear Rick Hahn: Stay The Course!

* Coffman: The Rebuild Is Over.

49:27: An Analytics Story.

* Verlander vs. Girardi.

55:04: Blackhawks Baffle.

58:40: Bobby Tortoise's Chicago Bulls!

* Hoiberg is coaching harder!

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STOPPAGE: 2:01

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

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Tom Chambers:

Re: Collusion . . . Lake Forest's Very Own Mike McCaskey developed the thesis - while teaching at Harvard - of how to unify to suppress salary growth in a free agent/collective bargaining environment! Or something like that. He may have even taught it to an owners' committee. He wrote a paper!

[See The Michael McCaskey Papers]

The Bears can fire everybody and anybody they want from Pace on down, but they won't win until the McCaskeys are out of there. The Bears are nothing more than a Superfund Toxic Waste Site. All who tread there get the Midway Monster Consumption.

Interesting to hear this podcast after the Green Bay game. Jim even said "fire 'em all" if they lose this game.

I'm not that old, but I wonder if the Bears are like vaudeville used to be: a laugh, a cry, a song and dance.

And, Joe Fortunato was great! He had 16 interceptions back when they didn't throw the ball. Bill Wade didn't kill them and the players wanted Bukich, but pound-for-pound, that '63 defense was just as good as '85. Davey Whitsell, JC Caroline, Bill George, Doug Atkins, Richie Petitbon, Big Ed O'Bradovich, the list goes on and on.

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2. From Steve Rhodes:

Re: MLB collusion . . . "George Steinbrenner offered Carlton Fisk a contract, then withdrew the offer after getting a call from Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf."

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:04 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Today in the Paradise Papers: Keeping offshore 'hush hush,' but why?

Dear Steve,

Today our Paradise Papers coverage reveals a secretive relationship between one of the world's largest commodity traders and fleet of giant freighters. Glencore, which remember was one of Appleby's top clients, used a subsidiary to hold a significant stake in the company. Why all the secrecy?

We're also still watching how the world reacts to our global investigation. There have been several government actions in Latin America as well as official government responses in Europe and Asia - including Bermuda.

The ICIJ team.

Previously:

* 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

* Just How Much Money Is Held Offshore? Hint: A SHIT-TON.

* Development Dreams Lost In The Offshore World.

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Between The Staples

Tonight at CHIPRC! #chiprc #zines #art

A post shared by Quimbys Bookstore (@quimbysbookstore) on

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Is in production.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour
Is in production.

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Beachwood Photo Booth
Is on hiatus.

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BeachBook

Are Honey Nut Cheerios, America's Most Popular Cereal, Healthy? HINT: LOL!

General Mills is sleazy as hell in its evasions.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

A party-line vote.

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#Ratioed.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Okay, then.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

November 9, 2017

The [Thursday] Papers

Today in the Paradise Papers: Development dreams lost in the offshore world.

Dear Steve,

When one of the world's biggest miners turned up in a small town in Africa, the local residents and officials had hopes of a better life. Our story on Burkina Faso, home to a Glencore mine, paints a very different picture. While Appleby helped Glencore reduce its tax bill, it was also charging nearly 950 times more than one engineer working on the mine earned.

Next, come on a journey to the Indonesian jungle, or what's left of it. Our reporter Scilla Alecci visited the Indonesian island of Padang and spoke with locals about how an expanding paper company is devastating their environment. A good place to start is this amazing video and this photo gallery.

Back in the U.S. the Wilbur Ross story continues to kick along. Former presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders has called for an investigation into offshore tax evasion.

The ICIJ team.

P.S. If you have any questions about our Paradise Papers project, we're hosting a Facebook Live Q&A at 5:30 p.m. ET (America). Leave your questions for us to answer!

Previously:

* 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

* Just How Much Money Is Held Offshore? Hint: A SHIT-TON.

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Cairo Calling
A devastating report from The Southern's Molly Parker:

The following political leaders have visited Cairo since the public housing crisis in Illinois' southernmost city came to a head:
  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson
  • U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both Democrats
  • U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro
  • Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill
  • State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg
  • State Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, D-Elizabethtown
  • Former State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Eldorado
  • Former Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, of Lemont
  • Democratic gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss and former candidate Ameya Pawar

Meanwhile, one prominent Illinois political leader has not visited Cairo since HUD announced in April its decision to relocate about 400 people from two derelict public housing complexes that have been deemed beyond repair:

  • Gov. Bruce Rauner

One could just end the story there. But it gets better/worse.

"It's also been difficult for The Southern to get much detailed information about what Rauner's administration is doing alongside the federal government to assist public housing residents and the city through this housing crisis, or to address the related health and economic issues facing southernmost Illinois."

That's because the Rauner administration appears to be doing absolutely nothing to assist public housing residents in Cairo. Or any residents there, for that matter.

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"Since July, The Southern has discussed the situation with at least seven different officials in Rauner's communications office. There have been numerous staff changeovers since that time, and many of those people are no longer in the governor's employ.

"Patty Schuh, Rauner's current spokeswoman, who recently transitioned from her role as spokeswoman for the Senate Republicans, said that though the governor himself has not been to Cairo since April, the office is plugged in to the situation. She said the issue for the governor's office at this time is that state officials have not been able to obtain the information it needs from HUD to develop the appropriate state response."

Really? What happened to driving results?

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Maybe the appropriate state response is for the governor to actually go there in person and find out what the hell is going on and how he can help.

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"The governor's office has been actively involved in the discussions about Cairo but there very clearly is federal action that has to take place. We need information," Schuh told Parker. "We don't feel like we're getting the full story yet."

As Parker notes, the Southern has published "dozens of stories" about Cairo's housing crisis since 2015.

So have media outlets in Chicago and across the nation. The Rauner administration should have a pretty good idea of what the "full story" is.

Asked about the comments from the governor's office, HUD spokesman Jereon Brown said HUD stands ready to work with any public officials in Illinois to provide whatever information is needed. He offered to reach out to the governor's office directly.

In a follow-up interview, Schuh said that wasn't necessary because during a "task force" meeting on Cairo in July, which a representative of the governor's office attended, it was decided that the federal delegation would handle the communication with HUD so as not to duplicate efforts or create confusion . . .

Therefore, Schuh said that the governor's office has not directly reached out to HUD, and isn't requesting HUD reach out to Rauner's office to provide the information they are seeking.

1. We have not been able to get the information from HUD we need to form an appropriate response.

2. HUD: We'll give you anything you want!

3. That's okay, we've been waiting since July on a federal delegation to give us the information we need. We're good.

4. HUD: Do you want us to just answer your questions right now?

5. No, that would be confusing.

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"As of press time, the newspaper was unable to obtain clarity on why the governor's office would not speak with HUD directly for the information it needed when the offer was made, given that's what Schuh said is holding up the administration's response."

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"Asked why Rauner has not been among the many regional and statewide officials to visit the city and meet directly with the residents, Schuh said he's been tethered to Springfield as session ran long this summer, and for the current veto session.

"'Given the distance, I'm not sure he's gotten that far down in Southern Illinois in recent months,' she said.

"Since April, when HUD announced the relocation decision, Rauner has traveled on trade and research missions to China, Japan and Israel and announced his 2018 re-election plans."

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Patty Schuh, you are Today's Worst Person In Illinois.

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Rich "Capitol Fax" Miller on longtime political flak Schuh when she was hired into the administration last month:

"I love me some Patty. She's a pro through and through. I sure hope this works out for her."

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Harvest Moon
"Gov. Bruce Rauner has declared a statewide harvest emergency to help agricultural workers hit hard by rain-related delays," AP reported last weekend.

"The Republican issued a statement saying the declaration is in effect for 45 days starting Sunday. The declaration means drivers of trucks carrying agricultural commodities, like grain, can get a free permit to exceed gross vehicle limits. Local authorities can also waive the permit requirement."

Three weeks after the Illinois Farm Bureau asked for it. Because it was an emergency.

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Chance & Obama

Sorry, Chance, but you're big wrong on this one.

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Also, has anyone asked him about this?

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But let's write cute stories about the $17.20 he got for being such a great citizen and showing up to jury duty - as he is required to do by law.

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Chicagoetry: The Moon Must Be Heaven, Desolate
(We've mentally rehearsed jumping off the Michigan Avenue bridge.)

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Three Richest Americans Now Own More Wealth Than Bottom Half Of U.S. Combined
Billionaire Bonanza 2017 shows that the vast gulf that currently exists between the rich and everyone else is not the product of some inexplicable "natural phenomenon." It is, rather, the result of "unfair economic policies that benefit those at the top at the expense of those at the bottom."

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BeachBook

Two Encounters: You Can't Reason With These People.

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In E-Mails, NASA Denies Child Slave Ring On Mars, Confirms Politician-Eating Tentacle Monster On Europa.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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It's not even close.

I love early Tom Petty, but "Learning to Fly" is emblematic of his insipid mid- and late-career radio ready midtempo jock jams. Borrrrrring.

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Let's face it, he was never the same after he did that stupid Alice in Wonderland song.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Tumble dry.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:19 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: The Moon Must Be Heaven, Desolate

The Moon Must Be Heaven, Desolate

The moon must be heaven, desolate,
and every star a lost soul.

We have been to the moon
and found nothing, nothing
but stardust. We drove, played golf,
planted flags, with not a single ghost

sighted. Perhaps the ghosts
of heaven are invisible to us.
Perfectly feasible.

Feasible as fear, as mortality, as every day
collapses in on itself, compressing all the anxiety
that simply stepping out into the world anymore
engenders. No more pretending.

We can't help but wonder, even worry,
about heaven and about hell, teetering
ever so close to both.

We screen every call, refresh the batteries
in our smoke detectors, change the locks
on our doors, clutch our phones tightly

if we take them out at all in public,
concentrate on our peripheral vision.

We listen to the world more intently
because the sound will come first,
firecrackers that aren't firecrackers,

a car engine revving suddenly, shouts, gasps,
screams (we've mentally rehearsed jumping
off the Michigan Avenue bridge).

So, in this configuration, the sun -
burgeoning, blasting, bellicose,
though apparently serene from afar -
must be hell. In hell, we burn. In heaven

we golf on stardust
in the light from hell.

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

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 AM | Permalink

Three Richest Americans Now Own More Wealth Than Bottom Half Of U.S. Combined

In the United States, the 400 richest individuals now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the population and the three richest own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent, while pervasive poverty means one in five households have zero or negative net worth.

Those are just several of the striking findings of Billionaire Bonanza 2017, a new report published Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) that explores in detail the speed with which the U.S. is becoming "a hereditary aristocracy of wealth and power."

"Over recent decades, an incredibly disproportionate share of America's income and wealth gains has flowed to the top of our economic spectrum. At the tip of that top sit the nation's richest 400 individuals, a group that Forbes magazine has been tracking annually since 1982," write IPS's Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie, the report's authors. "Americans at the other end of our economic spectrum, meanwhile, watch their wages stagnate and savings dwindle."

Collins and Hoxie are quick to note that the vast gulf that currently exists between the rich and everyone else is not the product of some inexplicable "natural phenomenon." It is, rather, the result of "unfair economic policies that benefit those at the top at the expense of those at the bottom."

Based on data recently made public by the Forbes 400 list and the Federal Reserve's annual "Survey of Consumer Finances," Billionaire Bonanza examines in detail the principal beneficiaries of America's "deeply unbalanced economy:" the mega-rich.

"The wealthiest 25 individuals in the United States today own $1 trillion in combined assets," the report notes. "These 25, a group equivalent to the active roster of a major league baseball team, hold more wealth than the bottom 56 percent of the U.S. population combined, 178 million people."

The top 25 list features billionaires who have attained their vast riches through a variety of means, from inheritance to investing to founding a corporate giant like Amazon or Google. What unites these enormously wealthy individuals - aside from the fact that they are all white - is that they just keep getting richer, decade after decade.

Average Americans, by contrast, have not fared nearly as well: a significant percentage of the U.S. households "have no savings at all or owe more than they own," making them residents of what Collins and Hoxie term "Underwater Nation."

"Excluding the value of the family car, 19 percent of U.S. households have zero or negative net worth," the report notes. "Looking at this trend through the lens of race reveals that 30 percent of black households and 27 percent of Latino households have zero or negative wealth."

In order to get a broader sense of the size of the chasm between rich and poor in the U.S., Collins and Hoxie place the net worth of the top one percent and the bottom one percent side by side.

"All combined, households in the bottom one percent have a combined negative net worth of $196 billion," the report finds. "For comparison, the top one percent, a category holding the exact same number of people, have positive $33.4 trillion in combined net worth."

Even mainstream institutions like the International Monetary Fund have acknowledged that such vast disparities of wealth and income are not sustainable, politically or economically. But as Billionaire Bonanza notes, the Trump administration - with the help of the GOP-controlled Congress - appears bent on making these disparities worse by slashing taxes for the wealthy while gutting programs that primarily benefit low-income and middle-class Americans.

The first priority, then, Collins and Hoxie say, is to "reject tax and other federal policies that will add oil to the inequality fire."

In terms of going on the offensive once the "do no harm" principle is observed, the report makes several suggestions, including:

  • Enacting higher marginal tax rates on individuals earning above $250,000 and $1 million;
  • "Addressing the problem of hidden wealth," which often leads to an underestimation of the level of wealth inequality;
  • Instituting a tax on Wall Street financial transactions, which could bring in an estimated $350 billion in federal revenue over a decade;
  • Eliminate the carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund managers to "reclassify wage income as capital income" and pay less in taxes as a result; and
  • Bolstering, rather than eliminating, the estate tax, which only affects a tiny number families.

As "the elite ranks of our billionaire class continue to pull apart from the rest of us," the report notes, many Americans - including students saddled with loan debt, workers suffering from stagnant wages, and families who have seen "their wealth and savings evaporate" - are revolting against the system that allowed the richest to accumulate such wealth at the expense of so many.

"A century ago, a similar anti-inequality upsurge took on America's vastly unequal distribution of income and wealth and, over the course of little more than a generation, fashioned a much more equal America," Collins and Hoxie conclude. "We can do the same."

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

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See also:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 AM | Permalink

November 8, 2017

The [Wednesday] Papers

Today in the Paradise Papers: Just how much money is held offshore?

Dear Steve,

Today our stories offer a window into two different sections of offshore secrecy. First, we take a look at how donors from both sides of politics in the U.S. are using offshore accounts.

Our reporter Spencer Woodman also investigates the secret, confusing and extremely intertwined world of offshore trusts.

Next up, our investigation reaches far beyond North America. Our reporter Will Fitzgibbon reveals how Mauritius - once known for its sugarcane production - has become a hotbed for companies wanting to get into Africa. But at what expense?

We've also had huge reaction around the world. There has been outrage at Queen Elizabeth being found in the documents. Now, our partners in the UK reveal Prince Charles' private estate has also invested offshore.

The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who also featured in our Day One story, has promised an investigation into his fellow citizen named in the Paradise Papers.

Until tomorrow!

The ICIJ team.

Previously: 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

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Burke, Trump & Pawar
"One of the problems with being around Chicago politics too long is that a person can become numb to its ethical shortcomings," Mark Brown writes for the Sun-Times.

"You start thinking that just because something has been done a certain way for so long that it can't be changed, even if you think it's wrong."

The same could be said for Chicago media.

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But I digress. Brown:

"Case in point: the longstanding practice of Chicago elected officials who are lawyers doing real estate tax appeal work, which inherently puts them in conflict with the interests of their constituents."

Does anyone really think this dynamic can't be changed? Has it been tried?

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"Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) rattled that status quo on Monday with a shot across the bow of Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke for filing another tax appeal lawsuit on behalf of President Donald Trump and his namesake Chicago skyscraper.

"In an interview with Sun-Times' City Hall reporter Fran Spielman, Pawar said it was a 'disgrace' that Burke filed his sixth lawsuit in eight years seeking a property tax refund for Trump's riverfront hotel.

"Pawar's comments appeared aimed mainly at Trump, who he called 'a racist and a bigot.'"

Pawar seems to be angry mostly that Burke is representing Trump, not that Burke has gotten fat appealing property taxes for monied clients - though he later addressed the latter issue with Brown.

Trump is not the problem here. Recognizing that and moving on the real issue - Burke's law practice and similar conflicts of interest among councilmembers - is the way forward if you want change. Perhaps introduce an ordinance, Ald. Pawar?

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Outcome Bias
"Investors in Outcome Health, including a fund co-founded by J.B. Pritzker and units of Goldman Sachs and Google, have sued the Chicago health information and advertising startup and two of its founders, alleging they committed fraud to secure almost $500 million in funding earlier this year," the Tribune reports.

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Every time I read about Outcome Health I can't help but flash back to this deliciousness:

"Outcome Health laid off employees at its Chicago headquarters this week, on the heels of an announcement with Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday that it plans to add 2,000 jobs over the next five years."

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Was It Harassment?
"Tribune columnist Eric Zorn examines sexual harassment allegations that victim rights advocate Denise Rotheimer leveled against state Sen. Ira Silverstein, quoting heavily from the hundreds of pages of Facebook messages between the two," Natasha Korecki notes in her Illinois Playbook.

"Three gubernatorial candidates - Daniel Biss, Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker - called for Silverstein to resign. The state senator already lost his leadership post and gained a primary challenger in the wake of these allegations.

"But Zorn said after reviewing messages Rotheimer released, the exchange seemed more like 'a sad, middle-aged crush, an unwholesome obsession that she was happy to encourage as long as she thought it would advantage her.'"

Yikes. That's dangerous territory to tread.

Click through to Korecki's item for related links for a fuller discussion of the matter.

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Liartown

Background: "Sean Tejaratchi is the absolute master of photoshopped cultural effluvia, God of an alternative world where the classic trash you remember warps into a mythopoeia of weird, hilarious insanity."

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BeachBook

Brenda Tracy Fights College Football's Rape Culture.

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Here's How Much The iPhoneX Costs To Make.

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America Is Running Out Of Cassette Tape.

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David Boies' Career Killing Stories For The Powerful.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

The people have spoken. Forward me some names.

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We once took for granted that someone would bring a gun to church just in case a mass shooter showed up.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: I've had a few.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 AM | Permalink

November 7, 2017

The Chicago Schaumburg Aquatic Experience

It happened over the weekend.

Here are some highlights.

1. "Really enjoyed seeing the wonderful fishfam."


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2. "I'm having the time of my life."

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3. Sea Lion Show.

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4. Fishfam News.

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5. $2,000 Pleco.

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6. Coral Haul.

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Aquatweets

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AquaBook

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:38 AM | Permalink

'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful

Some of the world's wealthiest and most powerful people woke up Monday to discover that some of their best kept secrets - how they hide their vast wealth and avoid paying taxes - are now being read about in newspapers across the world after the release of a trove of offshore legal and banking documents were leaked to journalists and published Sunday as a joint project called the "Paradise Papers."

First obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the documents were then shared with scores of journalists and researchers associated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other media organizations, including the New York Times, BBC, and the Guardian.

"There is this small group of people who are not equally subject to the laws as the rest of us, and that's on purpose," said author and financial expert Brooke Harrington in response to the new insights about how these elites secretly manage their wealth.

paradise_papers.jpg

As the ICIJ reports, the "trove of 13.4 million records exposes ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump's commerce secretary, the secret dealings of the chief fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the offshore interests of the Queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world."

According to the ICIJ, the documents show how deeply the offshore financial system is entangled with the overlapping worlds of political players, private wealth and corporate giants, including Apple, Nike, Uber and other global companies that avoid taxes through increasingly imaginative bookkeeping maneuvers.

One offshore web leads to Trump's commerce secretary, private equity tycoon Wilbur Ross, who has a stake in a shipping company that has received more than $68 million in revenue since 2014 from a Russian energy company co-owned by the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In all, the offshore ties of more than a dozen Trump advisers, Cabinet members and major donors appear in the leaked data.

At the center for the leak, explains the Guardian, is the law firm Appleby, which has "outposts in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. In contrast to Mossack Fonseca, the discredited firm at the center of last year's Panama Papers investigation, Appleby prides itself on being a leading member of the 'magic circle' of top-ranking offshore service providers."

But what exactly do the Paradise Papers represent? This video explains:

According to a summary by the Guardian, the Paradise Papers reveal:

Speaking with the Guardian, economist Gabriel Zucman - who is releasing a study later this week about the interplay between tax havens and global inequality - says the two are intricately linked.

"Tax havens are one of the key engines of the rise in global inequality," he said. "As inequality rises, offshore tax evasion is becoming an elite sport."

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

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See also:

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And:

Paradise Papers: Secrets of the global elites revealed

Dear Steve,

Today we look at two giant corporations we discovered in the Paradise Papers. Apple and Nike use clever tax maneuvers to reduce the amount of taxes they owe. As Edward Kleinbard, a former corporate lawyer, told our reporter Simon Bowers: "U.S. multinational firms are the global grandmasters of tax avoidance schemes."

We also reveal how the clever offshore experts can reduce the amount of tax the rich have to pay on luxury jets and yachts.

appleparadise.jpg

And of course, there is some fallout from yesterday's stories, including U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross responding to our reporting that he has business ties with Russia.

Until tomorrow!

The ICIJ team.

P.S. I'd encourage you to also read this post by our grants manager, Caitlin Ginley Sigal, who explains how ICIJ funds projects like these. They sure aren't cheap!

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LATEST NEWS

Ross May Give Up Stake In Firm With Russia Ties

After yesterday's revelations that U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had business ties with Russia, he refuted the claim that there was anything wrong with that. "There's nothing whatsoever improper about Navigator having a relationship with Sibur," he told the BBC. "If our government decided to sanction them, that would be a different story," he continued. Ross said he had not misled Congress.

Apple's Offshore Island Hop

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook told a U.S. Senate Subcommittee in 2013 that his tech company paid "all the taxes we owe." However, the Paradise Papers reveal that months later Apple was shopping around for a tax refuge in a bid to keep its tax rates ultra-low. Apple turned to Appleby for help, and documents show the sensitive nature of working with the tech giant.

How Nike Stays Ahead Of The Regulators

The next multinational we found in the Paradise Papers was Nike. The shoemaker shifted billions in trademark profits between subsidiaries to avoid paying high taxes in Europe. The organization started using a Dutch CV, which most countries view as a regular company subject to taxes in the Netherlands. However, Dutch law considers the profits are subject to taxation outside of the Netherlands. Consequently, the organizations become almost stateless and minimize their tax.

Offshore Gurus Help Rich Avoid Tax On Jets And Yachts

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton loves his $27 million candy-apple-red jet (just check out his Instagram feed). But he got a refund on the value-added tax (VAT) after lawyers at Appleby teamed up with Ernst & Young to sidestep the tax. "This will involve a short stay, normally less than 2 hours," Appleby said in a written explanation of the tax-avoidance strategy.

Snax Haven - How To Hide The Secret Sauce And Save Millions

Welcome to Reg and Ruby's burger shop, Snax Haven. A clever consultant helps them grow their profits by charging their franchise owners a secret sauce fee. The recipe is kept in a country where there is no tax paid. It's not just Reg and Ruby who use these tactics.

Explore: The Politicians in the Paradise Papers

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The Power Players interactive explores the offshore companies linked to 40 politicians and their immediate relatives.

Room Of Secrets Reveals Glencore Mysteries

glencore.jpg

'Offshore Magic Circle' Law Firm Has Record Of Compliance Failures

appleby.jpg

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

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

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

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

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

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

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

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

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

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

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

* Watch Out For The Coming Tax Break Trickery.

* When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Corporate Tax Break.

* The Hypocrisy Of Corporate Welfare: It's Bigger Than Trump.

* Oxfam Names World's Worst Tax Havens Fueling 'Global Race To Bottom.'

* Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Small Business $5,789 A Year.

* State Tax Incentives To Corporations Don't Work.

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

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

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

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

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

Previously in carried interest:
* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

* Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

So You Think You Know Chicago . . .

1974 edition.


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"The next question is for you, Reverend Jackson."

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"He dominated the city like no other man did."

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"Our next question relates to Elston Avenue."

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"The greatest contribution from Omaha since Gale Sayers."

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Previously from The Museum of Classic Chicago Television:
* Carleton The Mime.

* The Ground Round.

* Dance Fever Christmas Special.

* Into The Valley Of The Space Invaders.

* Help Save Classic Chicago TV!

* Monstrous Movie Flashback Starring Bag O'Laughs.

* Help Save Classic Chicago Television!

* Dominick's Holiday Turkey With Pop-Up Timer.

* The Safety Elves Of Northbrook.

* Smoking Stinks.

* Good News TV: When Crime Was Down And Nazis Weren't Bugging Us.

* When Gary Coleman Pitched Harris Bank.

* Sword Of Justice!

* Jobs In Chicago.

* When A Chicago TV Show Interviewed The San Diego Chicken.

* Paul Lynde vs. Halloween.

* Tom Turkey Cake.

* A Classic Chicago Television Christmas.

* Rainbows Of Flavor & Fun.

* A Good Old-Fashioned Tastee-Freez Commercial.

* When What's Happening!! Happened.

* Classic Chicago Thanksgiving TV.

* Groundhog Day: 1972 Newscast Ripped From Today's Headlines.

* Bozo's 4th Of July Spectacular.

* 'Why Is This Station Promoting The Desegregation Of Chicago Schools?'

* Lottery Trainwreck.

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

* Fuzzy Memories TV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

In Scandal After Scandal, NCAA Takes Fall For Complicit Colleges

College sports fans probably weren't surprised to learn that the University of North Carolina had been engaged in academic fraud for decades. In this particular instance, students, predominately varsity athletes, were enrolled in classes with few (if any) academic requirements. They almost always received high grades.

The UNC scandal is just one of many recent examples where universities have prioritized athletic prowess over academic integrity.

And where was the NCAA in all this? Amazingly, it essentially shrugged off the apparent transgressions, even after UNC admitted to them.

williams.jpg

Critics of the NCAA, such as Bloomberg News's Joe Nocera, have long argued that the organization has zero credibility as a regulator of college sports. Nocera and others tend to view the NCAA as either hypocritical or corrupt.

But without appearing sympathetic to the NCAA, I believe it is not the prime offender in the UNC case. It is simply doing the bidding of a higher education system that has gone off the academic rails. If the NCAA is Oz's projection on the wall, a profit-oriented higher education system is behind the curtain pulling the levers.

The Athletic Arms Race

In my recent book, I link higher education's misplaced priorities to the explosion of costs associated with intercollegiate athletics and youth sports.

This research, along with studies by the Knight Commission, the Drake Group and the Association of Research Libraries, shows that university spending on intercollegiate sports has vastly outpaced spending on instruction and research over the past two decades.

This spending spree has led to an arms race, or what sports sociologist Howard Nixon II calls an "athletic trap" that ensnares universities in incessant funding of high-visibility sports programs.

Contrary to popular belief, very few college sports programs operate in the black. According to data from the NCAA and U.S. Department of Education, fewer than 25 of the more than 300 NCAA Division I programs earn more than they spend. Athletic department deficits at some schools run upwards of $20 million per year.

Whenever athletic expenses exceed revenues, schools must make up the gap through other means.

At state schools, this could include more public funding, although that is becoming quite rare. More likely, schools will try to address the deficit through increasing tuition, implementing generic "student fees" or soliciting alumni for more money.

Paying For What, Exactly?

On the surface, none of this seems logical. Why pour so many resources into athletic programs? If students end up bearing the financial burden and education programs suffer, where is the return on the investment?

More than 100 years ago, sociologist Thorstein Veblen first identified the "corporatization" of higher education, with university presidents as "captains of solvency" who focus their energies on "principles of spectacular publicity" that will impress current and future donors.

Not much has changed in the last century. Higher education has become more about cultivating a school's "brand" than cultivating critical thinkers; more about alumni checkbooks than about student notebooks. Is it any wonder that college presidents are increasingly referred to as CEOs and are increasingly recruited from the corporate world?

If we think about college sports as a marketing venture rather than an educational venture, all of this spending makes perfect sense. Think of players as walking advertisements - each branded with the school's logo - who appear before millions of viewers on ESPN and ABC.

Large schools are especially concerned with brand development and revenue streams, which come from a combination of dedicated alumni, fans and corporate sponsors.

Meanwhile, smaller Division I schools and Division III schools use athletics not just for brand recognition but to manipulate their enrollment statistics and improve their "selectivity index."

Generally, varsity athletes are admitted through an early decision process that operates somewhat independently from the regular admissions process. But only the regular process figures into calculations of a college's acceptance rates. Athletes who are admitted early reduce the number of acceptances offered to the regular applicant pool.

This lowers the school's acceptance rate and raises its perceived selectivity - all without any substantive educational improvements.

Like their Division I counterparts, Division III schools also believe that visible and successful sports programs will spawn increased alumni contributions. The supporting data for this, however, is mixed. Most schools end up treading water (or slowly sinking) as increased spending doesn't keep pace with increases in alumni contributions.

The Empty 'Student-Athlete' Slogan

Officially born in 1910, the NCAA has always had trouble balancing its dual mission of promoting and regulating intercollegiate sports. Part of this promotion has been cultivating the "amateur" status of college sports, and how it is "purer" than commercialized professional sports.

Nothing represents that marketing scheme better than the "student-athlete" concept.

Former NCAA president Walter Byers first coined the term in the 1950s while fighting a worker's compensation claim by the widow of a college football player who had died during a game. "Student-athlete" has since becoming something of a mantra among those who work at any level within intercollegiate sports.

byers.jpg Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA, sits at his desk in Kansas City, Mo in 1961. He spent 36 years leading and shaping the organization. AP Photo

As a result, the NCAA postures as a de facto defender of academic integrity, even while its bylaws state otherwise. Rules approved by the NCAA in 2016 state that colleges should set their own academic integrity standards, with the NCAA intervening only when those internal rules are violated.

In the UNC case, the NCAA is refusing to second-guess the school's determination that no internal rules have been violated, despite what appears to be serious academic misconduct.

Following the NCAA's statutory logic, universities would crack down on athletics-centered academic fraud if they really wanted to. Instead, as my research and the work of others show, schools have become organizationally and ideologically addicted to intercollegiate sports.

Universities are convinced that they only need one more "fix" to reach intercollegiate sports nirvana: just one more new facility, one more high-profile coach, one more no-work course and one more entertainment complex to attract top recruits. But the athletics arms race keeps spiraling, and higher education keeps moving farther away from its educational mission.

The NCAA is a convenient scapegoat, but the problem lies much deeper. Is "college education" itself becoming an oxymoron? Was long-time college sports critic Murray Sperber correct when he said that universities were more about "beer and circuses" than about teaching and research?

Perhaps Thorstein Veblen was also right when he originally subtitled his book on higher education A Study in Total Depravity.

Rick Eckstein is a sociology professor at Villanova. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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See also: Relevant Excerpt: The Cartel: Inside The Rise And Imminent Fall Of The NCAA.

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And: Take the Harley.

Got some knowledge, at some college
Magna cum garbage
Hock the Stratocaster, my tuition's due

Midterms and final grades, are tools
to sell class rings, mortar boards, sweatsuits
coffee cup, do you think you're being used?

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

November 6, 2017

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Bleach Party at the Empty Bottle for Cuddlestock on Saturday night.


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2. Gallery Night at the Empty Bottle for Cuddlestock on Saturday night.

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3. Son of a Gun at the Empty Bottle for Cuddlestock on Saturday night.

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4. Hard Girls at the Empty Bottle for Cuddlestock on Saturday night.

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5. NE-HI at the Metro on Thursday night.

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6. Slowdive at the Vic on Sunday night.

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7. Kid Cudi with Kanye West at the Aragon on Sunday night.

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8. Whitney at the Metro on Thursday night.

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9. Essex Muro at the Mutiny on Saturday night.

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10. Parov Stelar at Thalia Hall on Thursday night.

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11. The Bad Examples at FitzGerald's in Berwyn on Saturday night.

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12. Lyle Lovett at the Genesee in Waukegan on Friday night.

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13. Yngwie Malmsteen at the Portage Theater on Friday night.

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14. The Billy Prine Band at FitzGerald's in Berwyn on Saturday night.

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15. Firefall at the Arcada in St. Charles on Friday night.

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16. Haley Reinhart at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.

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17. Auscultation at the Hideout on Saturday night.

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18. John Hiatt at the Genesee in Waukegan on Friday night.

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19. The Paul Thorn Band at SPACE in Evanston on Thursday night.

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20. Macklemore at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:49 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

North State Street.

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'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful
A must-read guide to the madness.

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So You Think You Know Chicago . . .
"The next question is for you, Reverend Jackson."

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The Chicago Schaumburg Aquatic Experience
Shout out to the fishfam.

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In Scandal After Scandal, NCAA Takes Fall For Complicit Colleges
Doing the bidding of a higher education system that has gone off the rails.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Bleach Party, Gallery Night, Son of a Gun, Hard Girls, NE-HI, Slowdive, Kid Cudi with Kanye West, Whitney, Essex Muro, Parov Stelar, The Bad Examples, Lyle Lovett, Yngwie Malmsteen, The Billy Prine Band, Firefall, Haley Reinhart, Auscultation, John Hiatt, the Paul Thorn Band, and Macklemore.

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BeachBook

Russian Twitter Support For Trump Began Right After He Started Campaign.

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Kevin Coval On Chance The Rapper, His New Book, Chicago Hip Hop.

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1986 Chicago Chevrolet Caprice Dealer's Commercial.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Get it together, people.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Right now.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:26 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Baby Bean.

Infant bean in incubation unit. #cloudgate #thebeanchicago #haroldwashingtonlibrary

A post shared by Gretchen Hasse (@gbhasse) on

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Chicago Cross Cup.

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Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again
The notorious tax break allows highly compensated private-equity managers, real estate investors and venture capitalists to be taxed at a much lower rate than other professionals.

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At Instituto Cervantes | Designers With Character
"The convergence between art, typography and graphic design has given rise to successive generations of designers who take on and defend the necessary conversation between typography and graphic design."

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TrackNotes: Glory And Grit
"These networks are such toadies to the moldy story lines they make up in a two-weeks-ago production meeting."

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SportsMonday: The Rebuild Is Over
Tanking in any way, shape or form is no longer required.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Is in pre-production.

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BeachBook

What Are The Paradise Papers And What Do They Tell Us?

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Highly recommended: Syria Primer: War Of All Against All.

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I Started Occupy Wall Street. Russia Tried To Co-Opt Me.

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World's Largest Deliverable Pizza.

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Fake Shore Drive's Andrew Barber On 10 Years Of Blogging And The Evolution Of Chicago's Hip-Hop Scene.

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Fake News Ad Comes Back To Haunt Chicago Woman.

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Unpaid Workers Have Been Leaving Messages In Zara Clothing.

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Neo-Nazis Declare Papa John's Official Alt-Right Pizza.

Papa John's has since told neo-Nazis to stop buying their pizza.

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Matt Taibbi And Mark Ames Serviced No One But Themselves With Their 'Satire.'

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Rich Kids Can Join The Revolution With This $365 Anarchy Jacket.

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Closing South Chicago YMCA Continues Neighborhood Divestment Trend.

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Blockbuster Assessment: Humans Likely Responsible For Virtually All Global Warming Since 1950s.

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Situational Awareness: Infowars' Chicago Radio Station.

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Climate Change Could Make Great Lakes A 'Sweet Spot' For Dairy.

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3 Years Ago: Beachwood Exit Poll - The Top 10 Reasons Rauner Won.

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4 Years Ago: Rahm vs. Rob.

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Godzilla vs. Chicago.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Still the best sportswriter in the city - and the best columnist overall. It's not even close.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Feel the Bern.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Rebuild Is Over

The rebuild is over. But that doesn't mean World Series contention has begun.

The White Sox have enough prospects, period. Therefore they almost certainly won't have to go through the soul-sapping (and prospect-damaging) exercise of losing on purpose in the next year or two (one of the keys to the successful Cubs rebuild is that so many of their key players didn't play for the major league club until 2015 - the first year they were trying again after the long tank winter).

Let me quickly be clear, however, that I am not advocating that the South Siders go on a free-agent spending spree just yet. And they shouldn't rush any prospects (which no team should ever do). Tank lovers always warn that if teams try too soon, they'll mess up their prospects. How stupid is that? Prospects come up when prospects are ready - their play dictates it. And the pathetic tankers run the risk of leaving them down too long.

I can just hear it now by the way . . . "Wait, you're writing about the White Sox? Surely they are the fifth- or maybe even the sixth-most compelling Chicago team." And all I can say in response is, it's my column and I will write it the way I want . . . and the Bears are on a bye. And the Bulls stink, the Hawks aren't very good, I don't want to write about the Fire and surely enough has been written about the Cubs to last us awhile.

The task for the White Sox actually isn't difficult. Just proceed from here trying to play the best major league baseball possible. And spare the fans the ridiculous artificial timelines. Just because the Cubs tanked three seasons and the Astros really tanked three seasons doesn't mean the White Sox should.

The main thing those timelines do by the way is extend guaranteed employment for management. Why should Rick Hahn be on a hot seat if no one expects decent baseball on the South Side for a couple more years? Well, forget that. As of now, Hahn is judged the same way competitive GMs are judged. And I guarantee you he wouldn't have it any other way.

Anybody else have any other reasons why one tanked season wasn't enough in this instance? Now if they get to the All-Star break this coming year well out of contention, a trade of a veteran or two will make sense. But they surely won't need to trash the place.

If they have a chance to contend for a playoff spot, it is clear they should go for it. Not "trading for Justin Verlander at the deadline" go for it but adding a helpful short-term piece or two. The value of playoff experience for young players far outweighs the value of drafting even 10 spots higher in a given draft.

In fact, when you think about it, tanking really only benefits a team in the first round. Look at the Cubs - Theo and Jed got the job done in the first rounds following the initial terrible season (2011) and the tanked campaigns of '12, '13 and '14. They drafted Albert Almora in '12, Kris Bryant in '13, Kyle Schwarber in '14 and Ian Happ in '15. Then those guys' development worked out for them to start contributing at the major league level in '15 and beyond.

But when you look at the Theo-Jed draft record in rounds two through whatever in their now sixth season at the helm for the Cubs, it is not pretty. The bottom line is, the Cubs are still getting their asses kicked by the Cardinals in terms of developing major leaguers drafted after the first round, just like the Cardinals have been kicking the Cubs' ass in that way for what, about a century?

I was happy the Astros won the Series for Houston but I must admit I was rooting for the Dodgers if for no other reason than to change the national conversation about how to win at baseball.

I still believe winners can be built in different ways but there is no denying the last two champs did it by engaging in years of tanking despite the fact that they were big market/revenue ballclubs. Still, some problems loom for the "you must tank for a long time" crowd.

It appears the Yankees have made the transition from old to young while staying in contention the whole way. I think Joe Girardi was a big part of that and therefore am puzzled by his firing and even more puzzled by the Nats not hiring him (check that - the Nats didn't hire him because he would have been too expensive plain and simple - does anyone really believe that Dave Martinez gives them a better chance of winning next year than Girardi would have? Please).

The Red Sox have had some bad years in the last half dozen but they weren't on purpose. And they now appear to have the sort of young talent depth to contend for an extended stretch. No-tankers such as the Dodgers, Nationals and, yup, the Cardinals are also in the hunt.

So get to work on winning, White Sox. Carlos Rodon is a huge question mark but they obviously have the beginnings of a young, talented starting pitching staff with Lucas Giolito, Rey Lopez and others. Go get an experienced bullpen arm or two and welcome back potentially competent relievers who missed the end of last season with injuries. See if you can sign Jose Abreu or Avisail Garcia to Jerry Reinsdorf special bargain contracts or allow them to be trade bait if the team falters in the first half of next year.

Tanking in any way, shape or form is no longer required.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again

From early in the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump swore he'd do away with the so-called carried-interest loophole, the notorious tax break that allows highly compensated private-equity managers, real estate investors and venture capitalists to be taxed at a much lower rate than other professionals.

"They're paying nothing, and it's ridiculous," Trump said in August 2016. "These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky." They were, he concluded, "getting away with murder."

As recently as late September, his chief economic adviser, ex-Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, insisted that the administration was set on closing what's also referred to as the "hedge-fund loophole," though hedge funds profit from it less than private-equity firms.

"The president remains committed to ending the carried interest deduction," Cohn told CNBC. "As we continue to evolve on the framework, the president has made it clear to the tax writers and Congress. Carried interest is one of those loopholes that we talk about when we talk about getting rid of loopholes that affect wealthy Americans."

Yet the sweeping tax legislation released by House Republicans leaves the treatment of carried interest untouched.

The preservation of the loophole is only the latest and starkest example of how a policy that is increasingly attacked as unfair and unjustified by people on both sides of the aisle has managed to survive through the influence of its well-placed beneficiaries.

When it comes to the new tax bill, that influence surely included Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group, one of the largest private-equity firms in the country. In 2010, when Congress, then controlled by Democrats, came close to closing the loophole, Schwarzman compared the proposal to the Nazi invasion of Poland. (He later apologized.) Schwarzman alone is estimated to have saved close to $100 million per year as a result of the treatment of carried interest, which makes up the vast bulk of his roughly $700 million annual income in recent years.

A major longtime donor to Republican candidates, Schwarzman did not give directly to Trump during the 2016 campaign, when Wall Street giving was in fact heavily tilted toward Hillary Clinton, even though she vowed to go even further in closing the loophole than Trump did. But Schwarzman quickly emerged earlier this year as a leading and highly influential advisor to Trump.

The loophole dates to almost a century ago, in the tax treatment of profits from oil-drilling partnerships, but its cost to the Treasury has exploded only in the past couple decades with the boom in the private equity industry. Those who manage the investments in private-equity funds are typically compensated in two different ways: with a 2 percent fee on the funds under management, and with a 20 percent cut of the gains they produce for investors - their "carried interest." That 20 percent cut is taxed under the capital gains rate, which currently amounts to 23.8 percent for the wealthy, instead of at the top rate for ordinary income, 39.6 percent, even though it is, essentially, part of the compensation that these investment managers are receiving for their labor, which is managing other people's money.

The loophole has also been very valuable to partners in large-scale real estate investment - such as Trump himself. Estimates of the loophole's total cost to the Treasury range from $1 billion per year to more than $10 billion.

Defenders of the loophole - who reject even the term "loophole" - have long argued that applying the lower capital gains rate to carried interest justly rewards the risk-taking involved in private equity partnerships. But in recent years, even some people within the industry have grown more muted in their defense, as the loophole has become increasingly implicated in soaring incomes at the very top of the ladder.

For instance, David Rubenstein, the co-founder of another very large private equity firm, the Carlyle Group, in recent years has shifted from explicitly defending the loophole to rebuffing legislative attempts to close it by arguing that it would be better addressed as part of comprehensive tax reform. "I don't think anything will get done until comprehensive tax reform is discussed and everything's looked at," Rubenstein told this reporter in October 2015, at a New York event where he was being honored for his philanthropy.

That was an effective way to defer focused efforts to eliminate the tax break, without appearing to defend it outright. And now a comprehensive tax reform bill is finally on the table. And closing the loophole is not in it.

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Previously in carried interest:
* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:47 AM | Permalink

At Instituto Cervantes | Designers With Character

Instituto Cervantes of Chicago, 31 W. Ohio, proudly presents Designers with Character, a group show by contemporary Spanish graphic designers, on display November 14, 2017 - January 20, 2018.

Designers with Character explores publishing design in the context pages, such as their architecture, placement, and construction; lettering, the art of drawing letters; and pop artists working in commercial graphic design.

49626_I_Diseñadoresconmuchaletra.jpg

Participating Spanish artists and studios include experimental type designer Andreu Balius, illustrator and typographer Alex Trochut, Art Director's Club Young Guns winner Marta Cerdà Alimbau, brand and design consultancy Atlas, global boutique design studio Mucho, art direction studio Serial Cut™ and multidisciplinary strategic communication studio Vasava.

Designers with Character kicks off with a reception on Tuesday, November 14 at 6 p.m. There is no charge to attend the reception, but a reservation via Brown Paper Tickets is encouraged.

"Typography as a visual expression of language grows, increasing its diversity and it continually transforms in order to adapt to the word and cultural and technological innovations as they unfold, such as in the development of printing (Times New Roman), information technology (Comic Sans), press (Bodoni), publishing (Auriol) and advertising and mass communication (Cooper Black)," says curator Gloria R. Mansilla.

"The convergence between art, typography and graphic design has given rise to successive generations of designers who take on and defend the necessary conversation between typography and graphic design, such as the pioneers Paul Renner, Adrian Frutiger and Herb Lubalin, followed by Massimo Vignelli, Neville Brody, Erik Spiekermann and David Carson. Designers with Character aims to show, via some of the best studios, that this conversation is especially alive in contemporary Spanish graphic design."

About Alex Trochut
Alex Trochut's work is identified by the importance he gives to typography, making it an element of graphic expression, as well as the variety and changes in technique in each project, maintaining the fusion of geometry and fluid shapes as a common trait in each of them. His work is influenced by Mediterranean artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro, as well as by the geometric art of the Hungarian Victor Vasarely, Pop Art and the contemporary artist Jonathan Zawada. In 2011, he published the book More is More which brings together all of his projects from 2006 until the book's publication. In 2015, Trochut exhibited his works in the Fine Line Exhibition at Art Basel Miami. Trochut graduated in Graphic Design from the Elisava School in Barcelona.

About Andreu Balius
Andreu Balius is a pioneer in digital typography design in Spain. He has created many typographies, such as Al Andalus, using the Arab alphabet, that combines with Pradell, a Latin alphabet. In 1992, he founded his studio, specializing in typography design. In 2003, he created Typerepublic, a digital type foundry where he publishes typefaces and corporate typographies. He is currently teaching typography at EINA, University School of Design and Art of Barcelona (UAB) and teaches at Pompeu Fabra a Digital Arts Master's program. He has received several prizes, including two Certificates of Excellence in Type Design by the TDC (2002 and 2005), a Certificate of Excellence in Type Design by the ATypI (Rome, 2001), Macromedia People's Choice Award (San Francisco, 1997) and Adobe Power of Design Award (London, 1997). He is author of the book Type at Work about the use of type in editorial design, and has published several articles in specialized books and magazines. Balius holds a PhD in Design from the University of Southampton (UK). He is a member of AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale), TDC (Type Directors Club) and ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale).

About Atlas
Established in 2013, Atlas is run by Astrid Stavro and Pablo Martin. Together, they have more than 40 years of experience and their design agency has won the most awards in Spain. Their focus on book design is based on close attention to conceptual and tactile details. Their clients include: Phaidon Press, Camper, Hachette Rusconi, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Grupo Godo, Grupo Planeta, The National Energy Museum, IBM, Acciona, BMW, Miro La Fabrica, Santa & Cole, Metalarte, Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona Tourism Office, La Central and the Design Museum of Barcelona. In 2014, the agency won 14 Laus prizes, the international graphic design and visual communication prizes organized by the Asociación de Diseñadores Graficos y Directores de Arte (ADG-FAD).

About Marta Cerdà Alimbau
At the end of 2008, after working in studios and agencies in Barcelona, Düsseldorf and Munich, Marta Cerdà Alimbau won the ADC Young Guns and decided to open her own studio. Since then she has worked on projects from around the world that include art direction, design, illustration, typography adapted to art, culture and advertising. Her works have been published in: The Guardian, The Observer, The Zeit, Gramophone, El País, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Men's Hhealth, Fortune, Squire, Design Week, Business Week Magazine, GQ, Corporate Financier, Penguin Books, Uno Magazine, IG, The Marketer, Planeta, Toronto Life Magazine, What's Next, Granta, Chicken House, Little Brown, Scribe Publications, Hachette Childrens, Random House, and Mondadori.

About Mucho
Marc Catala founded Mucho along with Pablo Juncadella in 2003. They first managed the creative direction of the British newspaper The Observer, combining this with corporate ID projects, editorial design and packaging. In 2010, Tilman Sole joined the studio. Mucho's eclectic way of doing things and its interest in experimentation has led to working with small clients (Xocoa, Demano, Demasie, Boolab) and multinational clients (Carolina Herrera, BMW, Random House Mondadori, Hachette Filipacci, W Hotels, Philip Morris), participating in cultural projects (MNCARS, Monumenta and Redesearte Paz) and carrying out projects in Berlin, London, Barcelona, Paris, Milan, Mexico City and Madrid. Mucho has received numerous awards from the design world. They hold 1 Yellow Pencil from the D&AD, 12 Laus trophies, 2 Gran Laus, 3 silvers from the Art Directors Club of Europe, 1 silver and 1 bronze from the Art Directors Club Mentions (New York) and the award for best editorial supplement of the year from the Magazine Design Awards.

About Serial Cut™
Serial Cut™ define themselves as "image-makers since 1999." This Madrid studio specializes in art direction for advertising and is known for their graphic still lifes, typographic doublespeak and their organic use of 3D. This genuine style combines pop culture with a type of surrealism, giving way to iconic images that invite a second, more detailed reading, in which typography plays an important role. The studio is made up of art directors, 3D artists and photographers who contribute to the creation of images with close attention to detail, be they digital or tactile. The studio, founded by Sergio del Puerto, started 15 years ago, and has taken part in a period of graphic globalization working for international clients. In 2012, the studio published the book ExtraBold, compiling all of their work into 320 pages with extra content available via Augmented Reality.

About Vasava
Vasava has clients from around the world, but their headquarters are in an old garage in Barcelona. In 1997, there were just two partners: Bruno and his father Toni. When Enric joined them several years later, he became the third member of the studio. Hence their logo, an infinite inverted triangle by Escher: an impossible logo for a trio that moves within the irrational. Vasava was part of a new wave of independent studios that appeared in the 1990s. Today, 17 people work in Vasava and everything is done internally, from design to illustration to video to animation. Their commercial success is due in large part to the need to experiment, at work and at home. Their personal design projects and art have been shown in books and exhibits around the world. They have given conferences in Los Angeles and Stockholm, Beijing and Buenos Aires. Their strategy has gained them the loyalty and respect of clients like Nike, Hennessy, Adobe, Diesel, 55DSL, Mango, Budweiser and Red Bull. Their illustrations appear in magazines such as Billboard and Fast Company and on the covers of Variety.

About Instituto Cervantes
The Instituto Cervantes is a public not-for-profit institution founded by the government of Spain in 1991 to promote the Spanish language and the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries throughout the world. It is now the largest international Spanish teaching organization with more than 80 centers on five continents. The center in Chicago offers a wide variety of classes and cultural events throughout the year, including the annual Chicago Flamenco Festival. Its cultural department regularly organizes conferences, lectures, film screenings, concerts, and art exhibits, bringing diverse audiences together to share a common cultural experience.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:13 AM | Permalink

November 5, 2017

TrackNotes: Glory And Grit

The first word that comes to mind is one used by never-satisfied Yelpers who think they created indifference, but we have to be better than that, go deeper. Learn from it.

The 2017 Breeders' Cup is history. There was much bad, some good and plenty of curious.

Luckily, the best came in the biggest race, the Classic, with Gun Runner proving he is the real deal as he tangled with Collected most of the way, convincingly dispatched him by an as-powerful-as-it-looked 2-1/4 lengths, and showed that his running truly has been ascendant in all of 2017.

As with Hearns and Hagler, and clearly better than all the rest, the two were toe-to-toe all the way around. Negotiating a little extra yardage in fighting Gun Runner down the middle, Martin Garcia and Bob Baffert's Collected tried with all their might.

Florent Geroux and 'Runner pulled a Formula One and made the turn tight as could be and slungshot into the straight in a move that had to have demoralized Collected. Gun Runner powered through the quarter pole, seized the definitive lead and punched on from there.

Steve Asmussen, the second-winningest North American trainer of all time, was a whirling, jumping dervish, knowing his horse had the win well before the wire.

Geroux, cooler than cold French soup, betrayed his confidence of simply having the best horse in the race.

"He can rate on a hot pace, he can stalk. He is a beast," Geroux told Donna Brothers in the mounted interview just after the race. Hot the pace was. In :22-2 and :46-1 in the first two quarters, Gun Runner and Collected ran hard and fast for the whole mile and a quarter. At 2:01 and 1 for the final, it was as respectable a 10 furlongs as you could ever ask.

I would like to say this was inexplicable, but it wasn't. In the walking interview as Asmussen hurried through the concourse to the winners circle, the winning trainer barely got through the props for the owners' connections. NBC abruptly cut away to Bob Costas and Mike Smith talking about what the hell happened to Arrogate.

NBC then went the rest of the way, which ran over, wringing its hands over why Arrogate didn't crush the field. These networks are such toadies to the moldy story lines they make up in a two-weeks-ago production meeting. They missed the entire glory and pure grit of Gun Runner's performance. How many people didn't like him but were afraid to not include him? You can point at me, I'll admit. Hell, he went off at a generous 5-2.

Let me tell you about Arrogate. I'll never criticize him as a horse or as a person, but he lost his desire to run, let alone win. He promptly started last in this race, a telltale ducking out of the gate. He didn't show up, and dead-heated for fifth with Gunnevera. They tried to keep it secret, but Mike Smith admitted that Arrogate hates Del Mar. "For some reason, he doesn't like this track, he never dug into it." Smith seemed to imply that because the horse didn't like Del Mar, he gave up.

Thanks to the Pegasus and Dubai World Cup, he won more than $17 million. He smashed the Travers. He bested last year's Classic in California Chrome's swan song tour. 'Chrome ran better. My problem is that you don't go around saying he's the best horse ever, or "the best since Secretariat," as Baffert did. If you want to know about Secretariat, search him here at the Beachwood. Horseplayers know, but horsemen should know better than to make such a bombastic statement. Ghostzapper, Gio Ponti, 'Chrome, Smarty Jones, American Pharoah, Curlin, Zenyatta, Azeri. Them's horses.

As for Bob Costas. Until he's willing to muck out an entire shedrow of stalls for a week, and he won't, he never gets to do another horse racing telecast, ever. He's like Jerry Mahoney, only as good as the makeup and Paul Winchell's propping-up schtick.

Random Thoughts

* I had a bad vibe from race one about Del Mar as the venue for the two most important cards of the year. I'm totally willing to be called wrong, but if there was a huge turnout where the turf meets the surf, I didn't see it. The parking lots were seemingly bare, I thought.

Reports are that attendance was down, but overall handle was up, healthily 5.7 percent over last year and best since 2013.

I realize racing poobahs want to be in warm weather, but Del Mar was not a good fit. Although Santa Anita again gets monotonous. It'll be at Churchill Downs next year.

* I thought the first three lanes from the rail seemed awfully thick, deep. Which means horses trying to save ground were thwarted. Why? Because you wiseasses can?

Daily Racing Form's national handicapper Mike Watchmaker spelled it out.

"But this 'tilt' (toward an outside favoritism) became an outright bias on Saturday, which is a shame, because championship races like these should be decided on fair, even surfaces, not on a main track that, especially on Saturday, made horses who were running on the inside look like they were disappearing into a black hole," Watchmaker said.

The track, especially the turf course, is tight on the corners and every mile race had to be run around two turns, which is a factor for many horses. Gun Runner's hug into the stretch is all the more impressive because of it.

* NBC (I'm looking at you Laffit Pincay III, Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey) simply refused to acknowledge the audacious mentality of trainers bringing horses into the Breeders' Cup without any foundation. It was the boulder on the ledge hanging over them. All we got was shoulder shrugs and "he's coming in off the layoff." Thanks, guys.

* Race seven Friday, the Dirt Mile, gave us another Baffert horse, Mor Spirit, who had no interest in being there. (Sense a trend?) He was so screwed up, all of his workouts were out of the gate, which indicates he was not much more than a slug on the couch. He went off favored.

More egregiously, they talked about favorite Sharp Azteca trainer Jorge Navarro and his many brushes with the horse police for drugging his runners. I'll give Moss and Bailey some props for mentioning it, but Laffit Pincay III should have known better as he chose to whitewash it. His father and grandfather were two of the finest jockeys in history.

"Bad moment, move forward, he apologized." Pincay said on-air, as my jaw hit the floor.

To add insult, Battle of Midway, who I had touted as long ago as the Derby, paid $30.40 and I didn't have him. That was a bad time.

* On Friday, Richie Sambora, waiting what seemed like 20 minutes for a cue, sang "Where the Turf Meets the Surf," as lame a song as there is but still the Del Mar ditty, and sounded like Nick Reins, the lounge singer. On Saturday, Jewel did the same thing and played the smoky chanteuse to much more success.

* At the Filly and Mare Sprint on Saturday, 70-1 Bar of Gold hit for $135.40 to win. My answer is no. Favorite Unique Bella, yet another who hadn't run, fared badly.

Admitting her inability, Mike Smith answered the stupid question about when he knew it was over: "When they started passing her. She's never been passed."

* Our very own, Eddie Olczyk, nailed the exacta, in order, with Gun Runner and Collected. Always the true horseplayer, "Maybe it's better I'm not there (on the air), with my picks."

* Overall, the entire racing weekend had a flat feeling to it. NBC didn't come close to doing its job and later Saturday night hosted another socially unredeeming Baldwin-Trump impression and rich out-of-touch Larry David's sickening Holocaust hunk that he thinks he can get away with because he's Jewish.

As for me, I didn't do well, but I had a few moments, which was fun. My exotics were stale and Gun Runner actually gave me good value.

Gun Runner seems destined for January's Pegasus, but what about after that? If he runs a 2018 campaign, I'll be surprised, thankful and delighted.

But unlike a Clydesdale winning the Classic, I won't dare dream it.

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Tom Chambers welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:34 PM | Permalink

November 3, 2017

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #174: A Different Kind Of Cubs World Series Hangover

A sense of unease. Plus: World Series Wrap; Davey Martinez and Goliath; Look Who's Coming To The Cubs!; Trubisky Gets Over; Is Youth Football Past Its Prime?; Fangio For Fox?; The Bulls . . . Stink; Quenneville On The Clock?; and TrackNotes: Out Of Kilter.


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SHOW NOTES

* 174.

1:36: World Series Wrap.

* Model franchise.

* A.J. Hinch: Backstop Bust To World Series Winning Skipper.

* Rosenbloom: Is It Crazy To Wonder Whether Javy Baez Can Grow Up To Be George Springer?

16:42: Davey Martinez and Goliath.

* Three years and an option but for how much? It's a mystery!

* Previously interviewed for managing jobs in Toronto, Cleveland, Houston, and Chicago - for both the Cubs and White Sox. He also interviewed for the Washington job once before.

* Trusty Dusty.

28:14: Look Who's Coming To The Cubs!

* Oh, and Jon Jay to the Rangers.

* And Tanaka was on the list heading to the Cubs until Thursday.

* Not ruling out the Cubs re-signing Wade Davis.

* Sees the Dodgers in on Arrieta. Astros, too. Maybe even the Nats.

* Joey Bats to the White Sox.

* Anibal Sanchez.

46:06: Trubisky Gets Over.

* Canceled: The Tanner Gentry Story.

* Assignment Desk: The Jerrell Freeman Story.

* Ali: A Life.

56:12: Is Youth Football Past Its Prime?

* Yes, but cross country isn't!

58:23: Fangio For Fox?

* King of the Tomato Cans.

1:04:10: The Bulls . . . Stink.

1:04:58: Quenneville On The Clock?

1:06:49: TrackNotes: Out Of Kilter.

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STOPPAGE: 8:18

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:39 PM | Permalink

Lisa Madigan Et Al. Vs. Tribune-Sinclair

Filed with the FCC.

The Attorneys General of the states of Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island submit the following Comments in opposition to the Tribune Media Company (Transferor) ("Tribune") and Sinclair Broadcast Group. Inc. (Transferee) ("Sinclair") Consolidated Applications for Consent to Transfer Control, which seek the Federal Communications Commission's ("FCC" or "Commission") consent to transfer control of Tribune's full-power broadcast televisions stations, low-power television stations, and television translator stations to Sinclair.

As the chief consumer protection and law enforcement officers in our respective states, we are responsible for promoting and defending the public interest. The proposed consolidation fails to further the public interest by allowing for increased consolidation that will decrease consumer choices and voices in the marketplace.

The Commission should conclude that the proposed merger does not serve "the public interest, convenience, and necessity," as required under the Communications Act of 1934.

Sinclair's Responses to the FCC's Request for Information (redacted for public inspection) (hereafter "Responses") dated October 5, 2017, clearly demonstrate that Sinclair cannot satisfy the statutory limits on market consolidation without the use of an obsolete rule that is currently under review by the D.C. Circuit.

The FCC has acknowledged that the combination of Sinclair and Tribune's television stations would create an entity capable of reaching 72 percent of U.S. television households. Even if Sinclair is permitted to use an obsolete method for calculating its reach, its estimated market share would still be 45.2 percent, above the statutory limit for national audience reach of 39 percent. Sinclair would need to still divest certain entities to bring it below the permissible cap of 39 percent.

The proposed transfers will increase market consolidation above the acceptable statutory limit, reduce consumer choices, and threaten the diversity of voices in media. Because of this, we urge the Commission to reject this proposal or, at a minimum, postpone consideration of the proposal until the D.C. Circuit completes its review of the Commission's Ultra High Frequency Discount Rule ("UHF Discount Rule") in Free Press v. FCC.

I. The Proposed Merger Will Limit Consumer Choices.

The chief concern of our states is the effect of this proposed merger on consumers. Our offices receive and mediate thousands of complaints a year from consumers about their video, Internet, and telecommunications services. These complaints allege high prices, poor service quality, misleading information in advertisements and from customer service representatives, and ineffective responses to customer complaints. The proposed merger has the potential to exacerbate these problems.

Further, states have embraced the policy of allowing competition. For example, Illinois has enacted the Cable and Video Competition Act of 2007, to promote competition for video services and provide consumers with choices in as many video markets as possible. We urge the Commission to consider the effect this transaction would have on our states' residents and the choices they will have for choosing among television competitors.

II. The Commission Should Reject the Proposed Merger Because Sinclair Has Relied on the UHF Discount Rule Which is Obsolete.

Sinclair and Tribune's proposed consolidation inappropriately relies on an obsolete method for calculating national audience reach that does not reflect the reality of today's technology. Without employing this obsolete rule, Sinclair is unable to satisfy the statutory limit on national audience reach.

In 2004, Congress directed the FCC to amend the regulations governing limits on media ownership to prohibit a single entity from owning television stations that - in the aggregate - have a national audience reach of more than 39 percent of the total television households in the United States ("national cap").

Until 2016, the method for calculating compliance with the national cap was premised on the lower household reach associated with weaker UHF signals in the 1980s. This accommodation has been known as the UHF Discount Rule.

In 2016, the FCC issued an order to repeal the UHF Discount Rule, finding that "technological change has eliminated the justification for the discount" and that eliminating the discount from the calculation of the national audience reach served to preserve the effectiveness of the 39 percent statutory cap on national audience reach.

Under new leadership, the Commission reinstated the UHF Discount Rule earlier this year and indicated that it is going to "begin a new proceeding to review comprehensively the future of the national cap, including the UHF discount."

Chairman Ajit Pai asserted that the UHF Discount Rule and the national cap are "inextricably linked."

If the Commission were to approve the merger relying on the UHF Discount Rule, it would be applying an obsolete rule that understates the audience reach of a UHF station by 50 percent. The UHF Discount Rule does not accurately or fairly measure the reach of broadcast stations and adversely effects the calculation of the Congressionally mandated national cap on broadcast market consolidation.

The Sinclair and Tribune merger consolidates the national television markets to unacceptable levels. The FCC states that under the proposed transaction, "the combined company would reach 72 percent of U.S. television households and would own and operate the largest number of broadcast television stations of any station group." This is well above the statutory 39 percent national cap for national audience reach.

By applying the UHF Discount Rule, Sinclair estimates that its market share is 45.2 percent,12 still above the 39 percent cap. Sinclair has offered to divest a few media entities to bring it below the permissible national audience reach level of 39 percent.

Even with the benefit of the restored but obsolete UHF Discount Rule, Sinclair's Responses acknowledge that divestiture "in at least two markets may be necessary to comply with the FCC's national ownership limit."

The People of Illinois also have a specific interest in such divestiture, as the St. Louis, Missouri market, which includes Illinois counties, is identified in the Responses as a potential location for divestiture. The St. Louis market is one of 10 Designated Market Areas where Sinclair would be acquiring a station in a market where it already owns at least one station.

Although the Commission reinstated the UHF Discount Rule in its 2017 Reconsideration Order, it reaffirmed its position that the UHF Discount Rule is obsolete. The rule was enacted in the 1980s to recognize the technical limitations of analog UHF stations.

In the 2017 Reconsideration Order that reinstated the rule, the Commission said "we do not disagree with Opponents' assertion that the UHF discount no longer has a sound technical basis following the digital television transition."

Nor did the Commission dispute their previous findings that "the digital transition eliminated the audience reach disadvantage for UHF stations."

The Commission has expressed a desire to readdress the use of the UHF Discount Rule and its effect on the national ownership cap. The Commission's Reconsideration Order demonstrates that continuing to apply the UHF Discount Rule goes against the Commission's own conclusions about whether the rule fairly calculates the audiences for UHF stations and its relevance to today's markets.

Approving this merger based on the UHF Discount Rule - which will result in a consolidation of television stations with an audience reach of more than 70 percent - even though the 2017 Reconsideration Order concluded that "[i]n fact, experience has confirmed that UHF channels are equal, if not superior, to VHF channels for the transmission of digital television signals," is contrary to the public interest and the intent of the 39 percent statutory limit.

Allowing Sinclair and Tribune to take advantage of a 1980's rule that is technologically outdated to permit consolidation far above the statutory levels goes against the public interest and is contrary to the Commission's own findings that the UHF Discount Rule is obsolete. The Commission should therefore reject this merger.

III. At a Minimum, the Commission Should Delay Consideration of this Merger Until the D.C. Circuit Completes its Review of the UHF Discount Rule.

The Commission's 2017 Reconsideration Order reinstating the UHF Discount Rule, on which Sinclair relies upon for approval, is currently under review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Free Press v. FCC.

The 2017 Reconsideration Order and the FCC's apparent lack of factual support or authority to reinstate the UHF Discount Rule is the basis of the appellate challenge in the Free Press case. Petitioners argue that the Order is arbitrary and capricious and unsupported by the record.

If the Petitioners prevail in reversing the Commission's 2017 Reconsideration Order, the UHF Discount Rule would be unavailable to Sinclair and Tribune and the merger would need to be rejected.

While the outcome of the Free Press case is not certain, the questionable basis for the 2017 Reconsideration Order suggests that the Petitioners may have success on the merits.

Prudence dictates, at a minimum, that FCC approval of the merger between Sinclair and Tribune should be delayed until the judicial review of its 2017 Reconsideration Order has been concluded with finality.

IV. CONCLUSION

In the public interests of local ownership, diversity in broadcasting, and marketplace competition, we oppose the approval of the Sinclair and Tribune merger. Allowing a merger that permits one television broadcast company to reach 72 percent of U.S. households is contrary to the spirit and letter of the law.

To ensure that consumers have access to a variety of content, services, and stations, the Commission should reject this order or, at a minimum, allow the D.C. Circuit to conclude its review of the 2017 Reconsideration Order before considering the proposed application.

Respectfully submitted,

LISA MADIGAN Illinois Attorney General
MAURA HEALEY Massachusetts Attorney General
BRIAN E. FROSH Maryland Attorney General
PETER F. KILMARTIN Rhode Island Attorney General

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Previously:
* Item: Former Trump Aide Joins Sinclair.

* Trump's FCC Chair Continues To Shaft The Public, Offer Major Handouts To Big Media.

* Trump-Friendly Sinclair's Takeover Of Tribune TV Stations Brought To You By Trump's FCC Chairman.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* 'Maybe The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'

* A Pair Of Decades-Old Policies May Change The Way Rural America Gets Local News.

* Tribune's Disastrous Sale To Sinclair.

* Lawmakers Demand Answers About FCC's Favoritism Toward Sinclair.

* Can Anyone Stop Trump's FCC From Approving A Conservative Local News Empire?

* Sinclair's Flippant FCC Ruling.

* FCC Presses Sinclair For Answers On Tribune Merger.

* Trump FCC Eliminates Local Broadcast Main Studio Requirement In A Handout To Sinclair That Will Harm Local Communities.

* Trump's FCC Chairman Announces Plan To Scrap Media Ownership Limits Standing In Way Of Tribune-Sinclair Mega-Merger.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Luna at Park West on Thursday night.


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2. Saint Etienne at Park West on Sunday night.

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3. David Crosby at City Winery on Monday night.

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4. Microwave at Subterranean on Wednesday night.

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5. Combichrist at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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6. En Esch at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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7. Arcade Fire at the hockey arena on Monday night.

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8. Japandroids at the Vic on Thursday night.

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9. King Krule at the Metro on Monday night.

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10. Animals as Leaders at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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11. Car Bomb at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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12. Periphery at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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13. Our Lady Peace at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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14. Dreamers at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

I have a few things to say about the closing of DNAinfo Chicago and Chicagoist; I hope I find the mental energy to do so over the weekend. No promises. Or you could just call me.

Now, the Papers on demand! Just call and I'll give you a live audio version right over the phone!

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TrackNotes: Out Of Kilter
"That it's extremely difficult to handicap these races, let alone watch them run, is an insult to the horseplayer," our very own Tom Chambers writes. "I resent it."

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Lisa Madigan Et Al. Vs. Tribune-Sinclair
"The Sinclair and Tribune merger consolidates the national television markets to unacceptable levels."

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A Russian Facebook Page Organized A Protest In Texas. A Different Russian Page Launched The Counter-Protest.
"Interactions between the two groups eventually escalated into confrontation and verbal attacks."

*

Russia fucked us up good, people.

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How Lincoln's Embrace Of Embalming Birthed The American Funeral Industry
"Lincoln's appearance early in the [train] trip was apparently so lifelike that mourners often reached out to touch his face, but the quality of the preservation faded over the length of the three-week journey.

"William Cullen Bryant, editor of The New York Evening Post, remarked that after a lengthy viewing in Manhattan, 'the genial, kindly face of Abraham Lincoln' became 'a ghastly shadow.'"

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Luna, Saint Etienne, David Crosby, Microwave, Combichrist, En Esch, Arcade Fire, Japandroids, King Krule, Animals as Leaders, Car Bomb, Periphery, Our Lady Peace, and Dreamers.

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The Beachwood Radio Hour #174: A Different Kind Of Cubs World Series Hangover
A sense of unease. Plus: World Series Wrap; Davey Martinez and Goliath; Look Who's Coming To The Cubs!; Trubisky Gets Over; Is Youth Football Past Its Prime?; Fangio For Fox?; The Bulls . . . Stink; Quenneville On The Clock?; and TrackNotes: Out Of Kilter.

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BeachBook
Our Facebook has disappeared. Investigating.

It's back.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: McTronc.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

How Lincoln's Embrace Of Embalming Birthed The American Funeral Industry

If you died 200 years ago in America, your family would wash and dress your body and place it in a bed surrounded by candles to dampen the smell of decomposition.

Your immediate family and friends would visit your house over the course of the next week, few needing to travel very far, paying their respects at your bedside. Before the body's putrefaction advanced too far, the local carpenter would make a simple pine casket, and everyone would gather at the cemetery (or your own backyard, if you were a landowner) for a few words before returning you to the earth.

You would be interred without any preservative chemicals, without being cosmetized with touch-ups like skin dyes, mouth formers or eye caps. No headstone, flowers or any of the other items we relate to a modern funeral. In essence, your demise would be respectful but without pomp.

Things have changed pretty substantially since America's early days as funeral rites have moved out of the house and into the funeral home. How did we get here and how do American traditions compare with typical practices in other countries?

In doing research for "Memory Picture," an interactive website I'm building that explains the pros and cons of our interment options, I've discovered many intriguing details about how we memorialize death. One of the most fascinating is how the founding of the modern funeral industry can essentially be traced back to President Abraham Lincoln and his embrace of embalming.

Embalming's Beginning

The simple home funeral described above was the standard since the founding of the Republic, but the U.S. Civil War upended this tradition.

During the war, most bodies were left where they fell, decomposing in fields and trenches all over the South, or rolled into mass graves. Some wealthy northern families were willing to pay to have the bodies of deceased soldiers returned to them. But before the invention of refrigeration, this often became a mess, as the heat and humidity would cause the body to decompose in a matter of a couple of days.

Updating an ancient preservation technique to solve this problem led to a seismic change in how we mourn the dead in America. Ancient Egyptian embalmings removed all internal organs and blood, leaving the body cavity to be filled with natural materials.

In 1838, the Frenchman Jean Gannal published Histoire des Embaumements, describing a process that kept the body more or less intact but replaced the body's blood with a preservative - a technique now known as "arterial embalming." The book was translated into English in 1840 and quickly became popular in America.

Catching wind of these medical advances, opportunistic Americans began performing rudimentary embalmings on the corpses of Northern soldiers to preserve them for the train ride home. The most common technique involved replacing the body's blood with arsenic and mercury (embalming eventually evolved to using variants of formaldehyde, which is still considered a carcinogen).

embalming1.jpgA surgeon embalms a soldier's body during the Civil War. Everett Historical/Shutterstock

Results improved, but not on a grand scale. These were "field embalmings," performed by nonprofessionals in makeshift tents set up next to the battlefield. Results were unpredictable, with issues involving circulation, length of preservation and overall consistency. It is estimated that of the 600,000 that died in the war, 40,000 were embalmed.

Business was doing so well that the War Department was forced to issue General Order 39 to ensure only properly licensed embalmers could offer their services to mourners. But the technique was limited to the war - to make embalming part of a traditional American funeral would require Abraham Lincoln, who you might say was an early adopter.

Lincoln's 'Lifelike' Death

Many prominent Civil War officers were embalmed, including the first casualty of the war, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, who was laid in state in the East Room of the White House at Lincoln's request.

Upon the death of Lincoln's 11-year-old son Willie in 1862, he had the boy's body embalmed. When the president was assassinated three years later, the same doctor embalmed Lincoln in preparation for a "funeral train" that paraded his body back to his final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.

embalming2.jpgCrowds greet Lincoln's body in 1865 as it's carried through Buffalo, New York/Buffalo Public Library

Nothing like this had happened for any president previously, or since, and the funeral procession left an indelible effect on those who attended it. Most visitors waited in line for hours to parade by Lincoln's open casket, usually set up in a State House or rotunda after being unloaded from the train.

Lincoln's appearance early in the trip was apparently so lifelike that mourners often reached out to touch his face, but the quality of the preservation faded over the length of the three-week journey. William Cullen Bryant, editor of The New York Evening Post, remarked that after a lengthy viewing in Manhattan, "the genial, kindly face of Abraham Lincoln" became "a ghastly shadow."

embalming3.jpgThis image is an unknown artist's conception of what Lincoln's face looked like lying in state in New York's City Hall based on an actual photograph taken by J. Gurney at the time of his death in 1865/The Lincoln Collection

This was the first time most Americans saw an embalmed body, and it quickly became a national sensation.

Death Becomes Professionalized

The public was painfully aware of death, with an average life expectancy of around 45 years (almost entirely due to an infant mortality rate higher than anywhere on Earth today). Seeing a corpse that exhibited lifelike color and less rigid features made a strong impression.

While we do not have statistics on the increase in embalmings during this time, there is ample evidence that the Civil War had a profound effect on how Americans treated death. Victorian mourning traditions gave way to funeral homes and hearses. Local carpenters and taxi services began offering funerary services, and undertakers earned "certificates of training" from embalming fluid salesmen. Eventually, every American could be embalmed, as most are today.

There was one potent caveat: Families could no longer bury their own. More was needed than the assistance of friends and family to inter a corpse. Death was becoming professionalized, its mechanisms increasingly out of the hands of typical Americans. And as a result, the cost of burying the dead soared. The median cost of a funeral and burial, including a vault to enclose the casket, reached $8,508 in 2014, up from about $2,700 three decades ago.

Thus was born the American funeral industry, with embalming as its cornerstone, as families ceded control of their loved ones' bodies to a funeral director.

Differences With Other Cultures

When people talk of a "traditional" American funeral today, they usually refer to a cosmetized, embalmed body, presented in a viewing before being interred in a cemetery.

This unique approach to interment is unlike death rites anywhere else in the world, and no other country in the world embalms their dead at a rate even approaching that of the U.S. Funeral tradition involves the intersection of culture, law and religion, a recipe that makes for very different outcomes across the globe.

In Japan, nearly everyone is cremated. The cultural traditions bound to the ceremony, which include family members passing cremated bone remains to each other using chopsticks, predate the U.S. Civil War.

In Germany, where cremations are also increasingly popular, the law requires that bodies be interred in the ground - even cremated remains - including the purchase of a coffin and a land plot. This has led to "corpse tourism," in which cremation is outsourced to a neighboring country and the body shipped back to Germany.

Other European countries struggle to deal with limited land resources for burial, with countries such as Greece requiring that graves are "recycled" every three years.

In Tunisia, as with all majority Muslim countries, nearly everyone is interred in the ground within 24 hours, in a cloth shroud and without chemical embalming. This is in accordance with Islamic scripture. It also bears close resemblance to the original interment of Americans before the Civil War.

Time To Make Plans

While American funerals are typically more expensive than in other countries, U.S. citizens enjoy many more options - and can even choose a simple Muslim-style interment. The key thing is to plan ahead by thinking critically about how you want yourself or your loved ones interred.

If you were to die in 2017, chances are you would meet your demise at the hospital. Your family would be asked if they had an "advanced directive" regarding "disposition of remains." In the absence of clear guidelines, your next of kin would most likely sign away the rights to your body to a local funeral parlor that will encourage them to have the body embalmed for a viewing and burial.

You would be interred with the blood and organs of your body replaced with carcinogenic preservative liquids, heavily cosmetized to hide the signs of the the embalming surgery that rendered you this way. Your embalmed body would be placed in an airtight casket, itself placed inside a concrete vault in the ground.

And you may wish for it to be that way. But if you prefer anything else, you must make your wishes known. To say "I don't care, I'll be dead" places an undue burden on your family, which is already mourning your loss.

Brian Walsh is an assistant professor of communications at Elon University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:37 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Out Of Kilter

I dreamt this week that a Clydesdale won the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Standing close to the wire in the infield, I didn't see the fluffy white feathering hair around the legs and ankles, but the horse, who had Thunder, or Lumber or something in his name, had legs like tree trunks. The faces of the willowy, sleek Thoroughbreds behind him turned to shock and horror as they just could not catch him. After the finish, the jockeys nothing more than gray silhouettes, they slowed and circled each other, breathing hard, protesting "What the hell just happened?!" Thunder Lumber had only one gear, but it was extremely powerful, and consistent, and it looked like he would have been able to run like that all day.

He paid $16,473 to win, which I know is impossible, and I said to someone "You know, that was the only horse in the race I would never have bet on. Still wouldn't. Oh well."

If you think I'm making this up, I had to kneel many times years ago in that divided, dark wooden phone booth and pretend to the pastor, who ate at our house whenever my dad got him a New Yorker Four-Door Hardtop at nearly cost, that I was a little hoodlum. I knew it was only for monthly maintenance on the guilt trip, when all I ever did, very occasionally, was punch somebody on the playground who deserved it anyway. But it worked, the guilt lingers, my knees are shot and that's the honest-to-God truth. I wouldn't, can't lie. So if you persist in your skepticism, you owe me a tip on the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

I believe the source of this vision is that as we head into the 33rd Breeders' Cup World Championships at beautiful Del Mar Thoroughbred Club on Friday and Saturday, the very nature of the Thoroughbred breed must be questioned. We demand answers from the people who manage these horses, as it sure looks like the wussification of racing.

I've read before that the breed might be out of kilter. Compare the leg thickness of Man o' War with that of this year's darling, Arrogate. In my circle of logic, it doesn't matter which came first, the spindly legs, more fragility and injuries, or the fear of trainers to run their horses.

The Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee discusses the topic with a few trainers and some of it hits you in the eye like a massive Clydesdale tail swatting a Missouri horsefly.

They call it now "a slight freshening" or "training into" the Breeders' Cup. But if you scroll down to the table, you will see the 25 runners scheduled to go this weekend who have had extensive layoffs since their last race. These are the top names in the game. Most haven't run since August, but a few of the running lines go back to June or July. June 10 was Belmont Stakes Day. I can't wait to see how the NBC TV crew addresses this, from handicapping difficulty, the horses' fitness and the near- and long-term effects of this disturbing trend. They can't possibly be negative enough for me.

Slickster trainer Bob Baffert, who has at least one horse in 11 races Friday and Saturday, and, count 'em, four horses in the Classic, gives us the old "trust me" routine.

Conceding the benefits of actual races, Baffert said, "When you know your horse really well, and if they're good work horses like Arrogate or Drefong, then sometimes you can get away with doing it this way. I can accomplish a lot of things in the morning if they're as willing as these horses are."

Baffert said he asked himself "What happened?" with Arrogate, who he and many others called the greatest horse of all time(!), wondering if the trip and huge win in Dubai took something out of him. He lost the San Diego Handicap badly and had to work hard for second in the Pacific Classic.

In a podcast I heard Thursday, TVG racing analyst Candice Hare had a supremely plausible theory.

"Arrogate has lost his early speed. When people said he had a difficult start in Dubai, he didn't, he just got out of the gate slow. And he's done that in his two races since then," Hare said.

Many have leaned on the idea Arrogate doesn't like Del Mar, but he won there his first time over the course in August 2016.

And it looks like Baffert may look like a torched chicken with Mor Spirit.

Like many trainers afraid of a bounce after a horse runs big, Baffert wussied out with 'Spirit and his 115 Beyer Speed Figure after the June 17 Metropolitan and rested the horse. Well, Mor Spirit got fat and lost his desire to train.

"Physically, he was fine, but the energy wasn't there. If I'd tried to squeeze a race into him, he wouldn't have run well. I didn't want to take that chance. One bad race can really mess up their head," Baffert said, perhaps mistaking the horse with owners and their eyes filled with breeding dollar signs. I've heard of running these types in higher level allowance races, races they would probably win, just for the workout and self-esteem. On a real roll in the Metropolitan, how do we think he's going to run when I see he hasn't beaten anyone good off a layoff and squares off in the Dirt Mile, one of the toughest races of the weekend?

Female stalwarts Forever Unbridled and the very special Stellar Wind come in off long layoffs to take on recently raced and tested Abel Tasman, Paradise Woods and Romantic Vision in Friday's feature, the Distaff.

Sure, these horses on their best days are the creme de la creme, but how do we know they haven't forgotten how to race on this level? And female horses really can lose their desire to race. I really hope nothing bad happens.

In many ways, this is like NFL season predictions when all you know is what you saw last year, when the Pack or the Pats or the Monsters were a different team.

That it's extremely difficult to handicap these races, let alone watch them run, is an insult to the horseplayer. I resent it.

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So what about the big weekend?

I want to see Lady Eli go out in a blaze of glory in the Filly and Mare Turf.

I want to see if Beach Patrol, the Arlington Million winner, can beat all of the Euros in the Turf. A lot of people like him.

Can Carina Mia, who has run into this race, beat the likes of Skye Diamonds, who hasn't, and 12 other tough runners in the Filly and Mare Sprint?

As for the Classic, Gun Runner is your 9-5 morning line favorite with Arrogate right behind at 2-1. As of now, most people expect it to stay in that order - unless NBC sways the civilians - with the odds worsening. Bet the car they will both take a lot of money. Keep an eye on the Show pool.

More than a few stubborn cusses are talking about Mubtaahij, why I don't know. He's still living off the UAE Derby of 2015. He won the Awesome Again last out at Santa Anita against nobody, but even in his best other races of the past 16 months, he hasn't won.

Look out for Pavel, third less than two lengths less than a month ago against Diversify and Keen Ice, notably not here today. His price could soar over the 20-1 ML.

Collected, out in the 11 post, comes in on a four-race win streak, including holding on against Arrogate in said Pacific Classic. Another Baffert horse, he popped with a 115 Beyer Speed Figure, but that was way back in August.

Gun Runner? Getting better and better, at least visually, and that might be the problem. Since being a bridesmaid in the Dubai World Cup to Arrogate, he's been winning by open lengths, big. But who'd he beat besides Keen Ice, a knockabout who just makes money? What's this I see? He wasn't much at 10 furlongs in a quick pace in Arrogate's Travers masterpiece. Look ma, looks like he's better at 9 furlongs, not today's 10, with a slower pace! I'm tired of getting burned by Candy Ride colts, especially at the classic distance, so he's fourth at best. Gimme a price or else.

Gunnevera will get by on name recognition alone but don't fall for it, except for maybe $2 to Place at 40-1.

I really want to toss Arrogate. He's probably the best runner on the planet, but all of these things we've talked about . . . He did draw the one post, which means Mike Smith should have an easier time scooting him up among the leaders without spending too much energy. If Arrogate is in good position on the far turn, has some lithium left and breaks out that huge stride of his, he won't be beat. But at what price?

Euros War Decree and Churchill run into this race, as does Pulpit colt Win the Space, local boy Joe Talamo up, and another Baffert, West Coast.

I love West Coast. He beat a rising Irap (who just tragically died of laminitis) in the Pennsylvania Derby in late September. He also won the prestigious Travers Stakes.

I also like Win the Space, but he's had a heap of trouble at Del Mar. We'll see.

I will have to go with these hunches, with prices, the mood I'm in, but perhaps an exacta and/or trifecta box with no more than one of these false favorites included will be required.

NBC SportsNet and NBC will have coverage. Keep in mind with the time zones, the Distaff and Classic will most definitely be evening affairs here.

I believe there's a huge undercurrent to these races this year and the results will be the only way to find out.

But if a Clydesdale ever does win the Classic, it will be my dream come true.

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Tom Chambers welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:06 AM | Permalink

November 2, 2017

A Russian Facebook Page Organized A Protest In Texas. A Different Russian Page Launched The Counter-Protest.

Federal lawmakers on Wednesday released samples of 3,000 Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential campaign. The ads conveyed the wide range of influence Russian-linked groups tried to enact on Americans - but one set of ads in particular hit close to home here in Texas.

Last year, two Russian Facebook pages organized dueling rallies in front of the Islamic Da'wah Center of Houston, according to information released by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican.

Heart of Texas, a Russian-controlled Facebook group that promoted Texas secession, leaned into an image of the state as a land of guns and barbecue and amassed hundreds of thousands of followers. One of their ads on Facebook announced a noon rally on May 21, 2016 to "Stop Islamification of Texas."

A separate Russian-sponsored group, United Muslims of America, advertised a "Save Islamic Knowledge" rally for the same place and time.

Facebook_Russia.jpg(ENLARGE)

On that day, protesters organized by the two groups showed up on Travis Street in downtown Houston, a scene that appeared on its face to be a protest and a counter-protest. Interactions between the two groups eventually escalated into confrontation and verbal attacks.

Burr, the committee's chairman, unveiled the ads at a hearing Wednesday morning and said Russians managed to pit Texans against each other for the bargain price of $200.

"You commented yesterday that your company's goal is bringing people together. In this case, people were brought together to foment conflict, and Facebook enabled that event to happen," Burr said to Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch.

"I would say that Facebook has failed their goal," Burr added. "From a computer in St. Petersburg, Russia, these operators can create and promote events anywhere in the United States in attempt to tear apart our society."

Stretch told the Senate Intelligence Committee that ads such as these were most likely directed at different audiences.

Both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Intelligence committees met with representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter at the Capitol Wednesday.

In a press conference following the House hearing, the top Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff of California, said lawmakers hope to make all of the Russian-bought Facebook ads available to the public in the next few weeks.

"People really need to see just how cynical this campaign really was and how this operation directed by a former KGB operative who is now the president of Russia was designed to tap into these really provocative and divisive issues here in the United States," Schiff said.

Going forward, Schiff said Congress will consider new regulations of political advertisements. He said the question is how they will adapt these oversight measures to social media platforms.

U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, is currently leading the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into election meddling by Russia.

This post originally appeared on The Texas Tribune.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:13 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

Iron.

#flicksonflash #chicagograffiti #projectloganchicago #projectlogan #momentumarttech #ironlakbarbecue

A post shared by FLASH ABC MARS (@flash_abc) on

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Wine.

#flicksonflash #projectloganchicago #projectlogan #chicagolife #chicagograffiti #uac #dc5

A post shared by FLASH ABC MARS (@flash_abc) on

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New On Today's Beachwood

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Except president.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: King of the hill.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:48 AM | Permalink

Hurricane Maria Exacerbates Medical Supply Shortages

When Hurricane Maria struck the United States territory of Puerto Rico in late September, it killed a still-undetermined number of people, knocked out power for most of the population, caused widespread flooding and created a humanitarian crisis that's still far from resolution. The effects reverberated far beyond the island, especially in the healthcare universe. Hospitals large and small across the continental U.S. are dealing with shortages in the medical supplies and pharmaceuticals manufactured in Puerto Rico - the most troubled supply is that of IV bags.

Over the past 40 years, Puerto Rico has lured manufacturers, especially pharmaceutical companies, with tax incentives to set up shop on the island. It's created a geographic concentration of companies that produce drugs, medical devices and additional supplies that hospitals and other health care providers rely on every day.

health-medicalsupply-supplychain-hurricanemaria-puertorico-iv-wisconsin.jpgdliban/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One of the most important medical products made in Puerto Rico are IV solutions and pre-mixed drugs manufactured by Baxter International, a company based in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield. Healthcare providers across the continental U.S. have been scrambling to handle a shortage of assembled IV bags, among other materials, since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

Baxter's "mini-bags," as medical practitioners commonly call them, are filled with a saline or dextrose solution, and are used when a drug must be administered to a patient in diluted form over an extended period of time. If a hospital or other facility can't acquire enough of these mini-bags, it has to improvise other solutions. In turn, this supply challenge creates a chain reaction that can affect everything from the proper delivery of certain drugs to the way in which patient care is tracked.

health-medicalsupply-supplychain-puertorico-lifesciences-businesses-map.jpg(ENLARGE)

Doing without IV bags isn't an option, or at least not a very practical one. Many drugs, from antibiotics to painkillers, need to be administered in a slow, diluted drip. Simply giving patients shots or pills isn't always a medically appropriate substitute, and it creates extra work for caregivers and other personnel to find an alternative solution. That approach in turn can strain a hospital's entire system of care and create extra costs. And more shots don't make patients any happier either.

These stopgap solutions also have consequences at the local level. As hospitals scramble to acquire alternative materials in response to a shortage, their actions can create shortages in the supplies of those resources as well.

The vast majority of drugs and medical supplies used in the United States are manufactured domestically, which includes Puerto Rico, mostly because they need to meet Food and Drug Administration standards. The territory offers an extreme example of how a geographic concentration of medical manufacturers can become a vulnerable link in the supply chain.

Pharmacy purchasers deal with smaller disruptions in access to drugs and supplies every day, from FDA enforcement actions and drug recalls to market forces like price changes or a company deciding to stop making a given product. It's an ongoing challenge to adapt to these types of disruptions in a typical week. When an extraordinary event like a hurricane disrupts the supply chain to a greater degree, a variety of factors make it difficult for hospital pharmacies to adapt.

An Opaque System

As the case of IV bags and Puerto Rico illustrates, one vulnerability in the healthcare supply chain is geographic in nature. A comprehensive view of this issue would assess where medical supply manufacturers are located, and determine which places might face threats, such as those related to from extreme weather or climate change-aggravated difficulties. However, not all pharmaceutical or medical-device companies actually divulge where their factories are located, and U.S. regulations don't require them to do so. Some companies make that information available to the public, but it's not all available to be be organized and analyzed.

"Even the FDA doesn't know where all these medications are manufactured across the country or the world," said Deborah Pasko, director of medication safety and quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. A professional organization for pharmacists, ASHP is also an attentive tracker of drug shortages. If both the FDA and ASHP struggle to anticipate drug shortages, that's a problem for the healthcare industry as a whole.

"To be high-reliability, you have to be proactive and you have to be able to predict and strategize around what may happen in the future," Pasko said. "But our pharmaceutical infrastructure isn't set up that way. It's meant to be, right now, a reactive thing."

One way to prevent, or at least anticipate, such shortages would be for pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers and regulators to communicate to identify some of the most crucial drugs and supplies. With this knowledge, Pasko said, manufacturers could build redundancies into the system - making sure that multiple factories in different geographic locations are making a given drug, so that if one of them gets knocked out in a natural disaster or closed down in the wake of a drug-company merger, others can pick up the slack.

Right now, that type of communication doesn't exist. Pharmacy buyers can talk to each other about shortages they're encountering. Hospitals in the same geographic region or hospital system can coordinate with each other to make sure each is getting needed supplies. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the FDA has been working with manufacturers and providers to temporarily increase imports of some necessary supplies.

The FDA's role doesn't extend beyond that role, though.

Shortages Compound And Spread

Andy Cohen, a clinical pharmacy specialist at the 250-bed Bellin Hospital in Green Bay, said he'd like the FDA to be more proactive and for the medical supply and pharmaceutical industries to offer more transparency in helping providers address drug shortages.

Even before Hurricane Maria, he said, shortages picked up considerably at the hospital over the past year, from one or two per week to several a day. Cohen has had to work harder to keep certain older kinds of injectable drugs in stock - he declined to specify which - because the FDA tightened regulations on some drug manufacturers in the wake of a 2012 meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated medications from a compounding pharmacy near Boston. Like many other hospital pharmacists, he's experienced a lot of anxiety over pre-filled IV bags since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico.

"This is probably the most stretched in terms of resources that we've been ever, because as it compounds each day, it becomes worse and worse and worse in terms of the availability of fluid," Cohen said. "Through multidisciplinary approaches, we've been able to at least keep our head above water. However, you can only tread water for so long."

health-medicalsupply-supplychain-iv-instructions-baxter-fda.jpg(ENLARGE)

Meanwhile, different hospitals have different needs, different numbers of beds, different patient populations, different wholesalers and distributors providing their supplies, and of course, different budgets. It makes coordination in a crisis very difficult, and no one solution will make sense for all hospitals.

Just about every hospital in America will be touched by the IV bag shortage. Shortages of IV bags and other Puerto Rico-made supplies are causing problems at large hospitals and small clinics alike. The former will go through literally thousands of IV bags a day. The latter use less supplies overall, but often can't always afford to keep a backup of certain items in case they run out. Such is the case at 25-bed St. Mary's Hospital in Superior.

"In general, we don't get much warning of a shortage," said St. Mary's pharmacist Tonya Meinerding. "We usually find out when we go to order a product . . . we often don't know why it's on shortage or when it will be back in stock."

St. Mary's is part of a four-state system named Essentia Health, and Meinerding routinely coordinates with pharmacists at other hospitals in the network. If one hospital is short on a given item, often the others can help out.

"That used to be a once-a-week ordeal for me to deal with shortages . . . but [since Hurricane Maria] it's a daily concern," Meinerding said.

In addition to the now-ubiquitous struggles to keep IV bags in stock, St. Mary's Superior is also scrambling to source intravenous antibiotics and pain medications. So far, Meinerding said, the hospital has been able to find alternatives to deal with the shortages and maintain patient care, but even this exposes weaknesses in the supply chain. "It's just making the chain spread, because the manufacturers of the alternative were not prepared for shortages," she said.

This post was originally published on WisContext, which produced the article in a partnership between Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television and Cooperative Extension.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

November 1, 2017

Inside The Book Of The Dead

A guide to the afterlife.


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See also: How To Live After Death In Ancient Egypt.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:22 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Sponsored by Haribo.

See also:

* Haribo, Maker Of Gummy Bears, Eligible For $1.7M In State Incentives For Rosemont HQ Expansion.

Oh, and:

* Haribo: Sweetened With Forced Labor And Abused Animals.

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Community.

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The Problem Is Poverty
Programs to overcome it can't win.

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Inside The Book Of The Dead
A guide to the afterlife.

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BeachBook

The Sheer Greed Of The Opioid Crisis.

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How Donald Trump Turned This Reporter Into A Target.

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Some Cook County Judges Deny Public Defenders When Defendants Post Bond.

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Daley's Statement On Koschman Case To Remain Secret.

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The Government Has Been Watching Muslims In Bridgeview For Years.

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Cappleman: Put Homeless In Tiny Homes - In Englewood.

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Analysis: Robert Mueller's Show Of Strength.

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5 Horrible Life Lessons Learned From Teen Movies.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Trump AND Clinton took campaigning into the gutter!!! #BothSides

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Class action.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

New Research Finds It Hasn't Gotten Easier For Poor Kids To Catch Up

The kindergarten-readiness gap between low-income and high-income students has not closed in a generation, even though parents are more involved than ever in their children's education and state-funded pre-K, nutrition programs, and prenatal care are more accessible now than in the late 1990s.

That is the major finding of a new report by the Economic Policy Institute, in which researchers Emma Garcia and Elaine Weiss analyzed kindergarten readiness data for socioeconomic groups in 1998 and 2010 to see if gaps in academic readiness have shrunk over time. The researchers found that large gaps for both reading and math performance between kindergarteners of high and low socioeconomic status were nearly the same in 1998 and 2010 even though there are more anti-poverty programs than ever before.

The researchers said that means the effects of poverty are more difficult to alleviate than policymakers may think.

"There is only so much that even comprehensive, well-designed programs can do to mitigate the pressures and effects of disadvantage and low social class," said researcher Emma Garcia in a statement.

Although there is evidence that parental involvement and programs like high-quality pre-K can help close the achievement gap, the report suggests that health care and educational programs can not fully allay the effects of poverty. "While such activities as parental time spent with children and center-based pre-K programs cushion the negative consequences of growing up in a [low income] household, they can do only so much," wrote the authors. The stubbornness of the gaps is a "matter of serious concern," they said.

Although communities may see benefits from offering comprehensive support, the researchers said "to really eliminate the inequalities that begin at the very start of children's life, we must tackle severe economic inequality head on." That means investing in social reforms outside of education, Garcia explained in an interview, including unemployment insurance, Social Security disability insurance, and cash assistance. "Education gaps are the results, the consequence, of a combination of factors . . . education policy and interventions, public policies, and even economic policies," she said.

The persistent kindergarten achievement gap may partly be explained by worsening conditions for low-income children, which may have canceled out any positive impacts of pre-K programs and community services. More than 84 percent of children in the lowest socioeconomic quintile of the federal data used for the study lived in poverty in 2010, compared to 71.3 percent in 1998. Nearly 55 percent of low-income children did not live with two parents in 2010, compared to 45.6 percent in 1998. Despite the growth in state-funded pre-K nationwide since 1998, low-income children were just as likely to be attending center-based prekindergarten in 1998 as in 2010. (Garcia said since then, prekindergarten offerings have most likely grown, but their data does not account for that).

One positive aspect of the findings is the increased involvement of low-income parents in their children's education. There was growth in the number of books at home for low-income children, as well as an increase in the number of activities parents reported participating in with their children.

"Lower social-class parents are actually doing more to prepare their children for school than ever before," said researcher Elaine Weiss in a statement. "But their efforts are simply not enough to counteract the ill effects of poverty and inequality, which have worsened, even as parental efforts and whole-child policies have increased."

That doesn't mean states should shy away from offering public preschool, summer enrichment programs, or mental health and nutrition programs, the authors said. The fact that the kindergarten readiness gap did not increase even as income inequality grew shows that parental investment in children's education and increased access to pre-K programs may have stopped the gap from widening.

"We do not say [preschool] is not making a difference," Garcia said. "We are saying that's not enough, so we need more."

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Fan Note: Malcolm Young's AC/DC.
TV - FCC Wraps New Gift For Sinclair.
POLITICS - FCC About To Ruin The Internet.
SPORTS - The Connor Barf Game.

BOOKS - Inside The Book Of The Dead.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Safe Stuffing.


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