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Watchdog report points to power struggle involving VA pickRear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump's choice to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, leaves a Senate office building Tuesday after meeting individually with some members of the committee that would vet him for the post, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 21:14:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – A watchdog report ordered in 2012 by Dr. Ronny Jackson – President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs – found that he and a rival physician exhibited "unprofessional behaviors" as they engaged in a power struggle over the White House medical unit.

The report, reviewed Tuesday by The Associated Press, suggested the White House consider replacing Jackson or Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman – or both. Kuhlman was the physician to President Barack Obama at the time, and had previously held the role Jackson held at the time: director of the White House Medical Unit.

The six-page report by the Navy's Medical Inspector General found a lack of trust in the leadership and low morale among staff members, who described the working environment as "being caught between parents going through a bitter divorce."

"There is a severe and pervasive lack of trust in the leadership that has deteriorated to the point that staff walk on 'eggshells,'" the report found.

President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that Jackson, his pick for VA secretary, might want to withdraw. Jackson has been hurt by the emergence of allegations about inappropriate workplace behavior, including over-prescribing prescription drugs and drinking on the job.

The inspector general report reviewed by The AP includes no references to improper prescribing or the use of alcohol.

According to the report, Jackson admitted he had failed to shield the White House medical unit from the leadership drama. He is quoted saying he was willing to do what was necessary to straighten out the command, even if it "meant finding a new position in Navy Medicine."

The report stated that the "vast majority" of those interviewed said Kuhlman had "irrevocably damaged his ability to effectively lead." It added that "many also believe that CAPT Jackson has exhibited poor leadership," but attributed those failures to the relationship with Kuhlman.

The report quoted unnamed members of the White House medical unit who, while participating in a focus group, used phrases like "Worst command ever," ''No one trusts anyone" and "The leaders are child-like."

Jackson was named Physician to the President in 2013, after Kuhlman left the unit entirely.

Trump said Tuesday he would stand behind Jackson, calling the White House doctor "one of the finest people that I have met." But he questioned why Jackson would want to put up with the scrutiny, which he characterized as unfair.

"I wouldn't do it," Trump said. "What does he need it for? What do you need this for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country?"

He said Jackson would make a decision soon.

___

Associated Press writers Hope Yen, Lisa Mascaro, Catherine Lucey, Alan Fram and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.

Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump's choice to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, leaves a Senate office building Tuesday after meeting individually with some members of the committee that would vet him for the post, on Capitol Hill in Washington.


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Michigan State kept ties to coach accused of sexual abuseIn this Aug. 4, 2014, photo, Rick Butler, a nationally renowned volleyball coach from Chicago, watches a scrimmage during the first day of a volleyball camp at Abbott Sports Complex in Lincoln, Neb. Michigan State University has maintained ties to Butler for decades after he was publicly accused in 1995 of sexually abusing and raping six underage girls he trained in the 1980s. Letters obtained by The Associated Press from accusers' advocates show the school has been under pressure since at least 2017 to sever ties with Butler.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 21:11:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Michigan State University, already reeling from the scandal involving a gymnastics doctor who molested young athletes, maintained ties to a prominent volleyball coach long after he was publicly accused in 1995 of sexually abusing and raping six underage girls he trained in the 1980s. Letters obtained by The Associated Press from advocates for the accusers reveal the school has been under pressure for at least a year to sever its relationship with Rick Butler. He runs training facilities in suburban Chicago that for decades have been a pipeline for top volleyball recruits, including Michigan State. Butler's accusers say he threatened to use his national influence to thwart their college prospects if they did not accept his advances. Questions about ties to Butler add to the scrutiny of Michigan State that began when Dr. Larry Nassar was charged in 2016 with abusing scores of gymnasts over 20 years while he had an office on campus. A former dean, William Strampel, was recently charged with failing to protect patients from Nassar and with sexually harassing female students. Colleges nationwide have recruited players trained by Butler and sent teams to play at his facilities, but one of Butler's 1995 accusers, Sarah Powers-Barnhard, said there's a special onus on Michigan State in the wake of Nassar to have nothing to do with him. Instead, she said, the school "turned a blind eye" to Butler's sordid history. "If we don't stop supporting the top abuser in volleyball, how can we ever claim zero tolerance for sexual abuse?" she said from her Jacksonville, Florida, home. The 63-year-old Butler has never been criminally charged. The alleged abuse occurred more than 30 years ago and was already beyond the statute of limitations for prosecution when the first three accusers came forward in 1995. Three others came forward more recently. Powers-Barnhard said Butler molested her hundreds of times over two years starting when she was 16 and he was around 30. She says he raped her at his home, in cars and even in a train-car bathroom as her teammates sat nearby. In a short Monday statement responding to AP questions, the university said Butler is currently "not affiliated with MSU in any way." The school, it added, "is not actively recruiting players from his program at this time." The statement did not address other questions, including when any affiliation with Butler might have ended or why the university had ties to him for so long after he was publicly accused. In a 1995 report, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services found no evidence to support Butler's claim the three athletes were lying. He acknowledged during a 1995 hearing held by USA Volleyball, the sport's national governing body, that he had sex with the three. He insisted it was after they turned 18 and was consensual. A statement issued Tuesday by his attorney, Danielle D'Ambrose, said the allegations he sexually abused anyone "are absolutely false." It added that his volleyball program "has no affiliation with Michigan State University or any other collegiate program." USA Volleyball in December banned Butler from its events for life, and the Amateur Athletic Union stripped him of his membership this year. Many college coaches are reluctant to criticize the onetime Olympic team trainer. That's partly because he consistently produces stellar recruits via his flagship company, Sports Performance Volleyball, and his 12-court Great Lakes Center. Both are in Aurora, west of Chicago. The long list of schools that signed recruits once trained by him includes the University of Notre Dame and the University of Nebraska. Each y[...]


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McHenry County Democratic Party elects new boardKristin Zahorik, a Nunda Township precinct committee person, has been elected chairperson of the Democratic Party of McHenry County.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 21:04:00 GMT

The Democratic Party of McHenry County has elected a new executive board.

At the party's annual convention April 18, four candidates ran unopposed to make up the new board.

Former vice chairwoman Kristina Zahorik will now serve as the party's chairwoman. The Oakwood Hills resident is also a precinct committee-person in Nunda Township.

Zahorik replaces outgoing chairman Michael Bissett, who stepped down from his post to run for the party's treasurer's spot.

To Zahorik, the goal for the party going forward is simple:

"Try to elect as many Democrats in McHenry County as we can – including a new governor," she said.

The Democratic Party did not endorse a candidate in the gubernatorial primary. In November, Democrat J.B. Pritzker, holding the party's nomination, will square off against incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“We have more visible presence in county,” Zahorik said. "There are a number of people starting to come out of the woodwork and give voice to [the party].”

In the primary, 62,990 people voted Democratic for seven candidates in Illinois' 6th Congressional District, up from 8,615 in the 2014 primary. The 6th Congressional District – serving parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties – voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Ruth Scifo, a Crystal Lake resident and precinct committee-person in Algonquin, won election at vice chairperson.

Bissett, who has served on the party's executive board since 2003, will now serve as treasurer.

Kristy Smith, a precinct committee-person in Algonquin, will now serve as the Democratic Party's secretary.

Kristin Zahorik, a Nunda Township precinct committee person, has been elected chairperson of the Democratic Party of McHenry County.


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Mental health and guns an issue after Waffle House attackResidents of the apartment complex where Waffle House shooting suspect Travis Reinking lived watch as police work near the wooded area where Reinking was captured Monday, April 23, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Police say Reinking shot and killed at least four people at a nearby Waffle House restaurant Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 18:06:00 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Without knowing who he was or what he might do, police briefly had Travis Reinking in their sights days before the deadly assault on a Waffle House restaurant. Alerted to the theft of a BMW from a car dealer last week, officers decided against a risky police chase, knowing the car had a GPS device and could soon be located. Sure enough, the car was recovered the same day, outside Reinking's apartment. But police didn't figure out who stole it until Sunday, after the Waffle House attack. By then, police say, the 29-year-old with a troubled past used an assault weapon — the same AR-15 once taken from him at the FBI's request — to kill four people and wound four others. Reinking escaped on foot from the restaurant after a quick-thinking customer wrestled the gun from his grasp, and he shed the only item of clothing he was wearing, a green jacket. By the time he was captured in the woods nearby, police had searched his apartment, and found the key fob to the stolen BMW. Nashville Police Department Lt. Carlos Lara told reporters that a detective was tipped to the suspect's presence by some construction workers, and confronted Reinking, who lay down on the ground to be handcuffed. He carried a black backpack, with a silver semi-automatic weapon and .45-caliber ammunition. Reinking then asked for a lawyer and was taken to a hospital before being booked. He was formally charged late Monday with four counts of criminal homicide. A judge on Tuesday revoked his initial bond of $2 million pending a Wednesday hearing. The arrest ended a 24-hour manhunt involving more than 160 law enforcement officers, but it left troubling unanswered questions about official responses to months of bizarre behavior before the restaurant attack, including encounters with police in Illinois and Colorado and an arrest at the White House that raised red flags. In May 2016, Reinking told deputies from Tazewell County, Illinois, that music superstar Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone. Reinking agreed to go to a local hospital for an evaluation after repeatedly resisting the request, the sheriff's report said. He would make a similar claim about Swift in Salida, Colorado, nearly a year later, in March 2017, authorities there said. Another Illinois sheriff's report said Reinking barged into a community pool in Tremont last June and jumped into the water wearing a pink woman's coat over his underwear. Investigators believed he had an AR-15 rifle in his car trunk, but it was never displayed. No charges were filed. Last July, Reinking was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service after he entered a restricted area near the White House and refused to leave, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump. Reinking was not armed, but at the FBI's request, Illinois police revoked his state firearms card. Four guns, including the AR-15 used in the shootings, were transferred to his father, a procedure allowed under Illinois law. Signs of paranoid delusions continued: In August, Reinking told police he wanted to file a report about 20 to 30 people tapping into his computer and phone and people "barking like dogs" outside his residence, according to a report. "There's certainly evidence that there's some sort of mental health issues involved," Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston said. Huston said Jeffrey Reinking pledged he would "keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis." And Don Aaron, a Nashville Police spokesman, said Reinking's father "has now acknowledged giving them back" to his son. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special Agent Marcu[...]


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President Trump: Kim Jong Un 'very open' and 'very honorable'President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during their meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 18:04:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday said Kim Jong Un wants a historic, high-stakes meeting as soon as possible and suggested the North Korean dictator has been "very open" and "very honorable," a sharply different assessment of a leader he once denounced as "Little Rocket Man." The United States and North Korea have been negotiating a summit between Trump and Kim to be held in May or June to broker a deal on Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. Trump, who has struck a decidedly optimistic tone on the situation in recent days, said Tuesday that the United States and North Korea were having "good discussions." "We have been told directly that they would like to have the meeting as soon as possible. We think that's a great thing for the world," Trump said at the White House alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. "Kim Jong Un, he really has been very open and I think very honorable from everything we're seeing." Trump cautioned that North Korea had not followed through on previous promises, but credited tough steps from his administration — including sanctions and organizing pressure from international allies — for having forced Pyongyang to hold talks. And he again suggested that he would "leave the table" if the negotiations were not productive or if North Korea was not operating in good faith. "We'll see where that all goes," the president said. "Maybe it will be wonderful or maybe it won't." Trump's comments came days after a flurry of moves from North Korea that the White House was anxious to promote as signs that its coercion campaign was working. On Saturday, North Korea announced it will close its nuclear testing facility and suspend nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests — a move welcomed by Trump as "big progress." However, the North stopped short of suggesting it will give up its nuclear weapons — as Trump suggested in a weekend tweet — or scale back its production of missiles and their related components. When pressed Tuesday what he meant by the goal of "denuclearization," Trump said "It means they get rid of their nukes. Very simple." "It would be easy for me to make a simple deal and declare victory. I don't want to do that," the president said. This week, U.S.-allied South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim will hold a summit in the demilitarized zone between the Koreas that could lay the ground for Trump's planned meeting with the North Korean dictator. The leaders of the U.S. and North Korea have never met during six decades of hostility since the Korean War. The exact date and location of the possible summit has not been determined. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that the U.S. goal was the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. When asked if the president was willing to accept anything short of that goal before lifting sanctions or was willing to go incrementally, she told reporters: "Certainly no sanctions lifted until we see concrete actions taken by North Korea to denuclearize." Last year, the U.S. spearheaded through the U.N. Security Council the toughest international sanctions yet against North Korea in response to three long-range missile launches and its most powerful nuclear test explosion yet. The Trump administration supplemented those restrictions with unilateral U.S. sanctions against firms that had conducted illicit trade with the North. This year, Kim has pivoted from confrontation to diplomacy and, according to South Korea and China, has expressed a commitment to denuclearization. There is still uncertainty about what he seeks in return. Trump's praise for K[...]


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Crystal Lake crash sends 2 people to hospital, shuts down Route 31 MondayRoute 31 shut down Monday as police investigated a crash that sent two people to the hospital.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 14:14:00 GMT

Two people were taken to the hospital following a crash Monday in Crystal Lake, police said.

Crystal Lake Police Department, Crystal Lake Fire Protection District and the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office responded just before 5 p.m. to the scene on Route 31, Crystal Lake Deputy Chief of Operations Derek Hyrkas said Tuesday morning.

Northbound Route 31 at Ray Street closed down for about an hour as police investigated the crash, which occurred just north of Route 176 at River Birch Boulevard, he said.

The investigation is ongoing.

Route 31 shut down Monday as police investigated a crash that sent two people to the hospital.


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Facebook finally explains why it bans some content, in 27 pagesFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington on April 11, 2018. Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:06:00 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO - Among the most challenging issues for Facebook is its role as the policeman for the free expression of its two billion users. Now the social network is opening up about its decision-making over which posts it decides to take down - and why. On Tuesday the company for the first time published the 27-page guidelines, called Community Standards, that it gives to its workforce of thousands of human censors. It encompasses dozens of topics including hate speech, violent imagery, misrepresentation, terrorist propaganda, and disinformation. Facebook said it would offer users the opportunity to appeal Facebook's decisions. The move adds a new degree of transparency to a process that users, the public, and advocates have criticized as arbitrary and opaque. The newly-released guidelines offer suggestions on various topics, including how to determine the difference between humor, sarcasm and hate speech. They explain that images of female nipples are generally prohibited, but exceptions are made for images that promote breastfeeding or address breast cancer. "We want people to know our standards and we want to give people clarity," Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management, said in an interview. She added that she hoped publishing the guidelines would spark dialogue. "We are trying to strike the line between safety and giving people the ability to really express themselves." The company's censors, called content moderators, have been chastised by civil rights groups for mistakenly removing posts by minorities who had shared stories of being the victims of racial slurs. Moderators have struggled to tell the difference between someone posting a slur as an attack and someone who was using the slur to tell the story of their own victimization. In another instance, moderators removed an iconic Vietnam War photo of a child fleeing a napalm attack, claiming the girl's nudity violated its policies. (The photo was restored after protests from news organizations.) Moderators have deleted posts from activists and journalists in Myanmar and in disputed territories such as Palestine and Kashmir, and have banned the pro-Trump activists Diamond and Silk as "unsafe to the community." The release of the guidelines is part of a wave of transparency that Facebook hopes will quell its many critics. It has also published political ads and streamlined its privacy controls after coming under fire for its lax approach to protecting consumer data. The company is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission over the misuse of data by a Trump-connected consultancy known as Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg recently testified before Congress about the issue. Bickert said discussions about sharing the guidelines started last fall and were not related to the Cambridge controversy. The company's content policies, which began in earnest in 2005, addressed nudity and Holocaust denial in the early years. They have ballooned from a single page in 2008 to 27 pages today. As Facebook has come to reach nearly a third of the world's population, Bickert's team has expanded significantly, and is expected to grow even more in the coming year. A far-flung team of 7,500 reviewers, in places like Austin, Dublin, and the Philippines, assesses posts 24-hours a day, seven days a week, in more than 40 languages. Moderators are sometimes temporary contract workers without much cultural familiarity with the content they are judging, and they make complex decisions in applying Facebook's rules. Bickert also employs high-level experts including a human rights lawyer, a rape counselor, a counterrorism expert from West Point, and a PhD researcher with expertise in European extremist organizations, as part of her content review team. Activists and users have been particularly frustrated by the absence of an appeals process when [...]


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Pruitt to unveil controversial 'transparency' rule limiting what research EPA can useEPA Administrator Scott Pruitt during an interview in his office at the EPA headquarters in Washington on Oct. 25, 2017. Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:03:00 GMT

WASHINGTON - Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to propose a rule Tuesday that would establish new standards for what science could be used in writing agency regulations, according to individuals briefed on the plan. It is a sweeping change long sought by conservatives. The rule, which Pruitt has described in interviews with select media over the past month, would only allow EPA to consider studies for which the underlying data are made available publicly. Advocates describe this approach as an advance for transparency, but critics say it would effectively block the agency from relying on long-standing, landmark studies linking air pollution and pesticide exposure to harmful health effects. In an interview Sunday with radio host John Catsimatidis on 970 AM in New York, Pruitt described the change as a way to let the public judge "the data, the methodology, the analytics" behind any scientific analysis presented to the EPA as it drafts regulations. "That's transparency," he told Catsimatidis. "It gives people the opportunity in real time to peer review. It goes to the heart of what we should be about as an agency." The individuals briefed on the rule, which will be subject to a 30-day comment period, spoke on the condition of anonymity in advance of the announcement. Many scientists argue that applying a standard to public health and environmental studies that is not currently required by peer-reviewed journals would limit the information the EPA could take into account when crafting federal limits on everything from power-plant emissions to which chemicals can be used in agriculture and in homes. Some researchers collect personal data from subjects but pledge to keep it confidential - as was the case in a major 1993 study by Harvard University that established the link between fine particle air pollution and premature deaths. That practice would not be allowed under the new rule. House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, sought to establish a requirement similar to the one Pruitt will propose through legislation, but it failed to pass both chambers. On Monday, 985 scientists signed a letter organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists urging Pruitt not to forge ahead with the policy change. "There are ways to improve transparency in the decision-making process, but restricting the use of science would improve neither transparency nor the quality of EPA decision-making," they wrote. "If fully implemented, this proposal would greatly weaken EPA's ability to comprehensively consider the scientific evidence across the full array of health studies." Under the proposed rule, third parties would be able to test and try to replicate the findings of studies submitted to EPA. But, the scientists wrote, "many public health studies cannot be replicated, as doing so would require intentionally and unethically exposing people and the environment to harmful contaminants or recreating one-time events." Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Center for Science and Democracy, said in an email that Pruitt's move would expand on his earlier decision to change the standards for who can serve on EPA's advisory committees. Last year, Pruitt barred any scientists from serving if they received EPA grants for their work. Researchers funded by industries regulated by the agency are to continue serving, however. "First, they came after the agency's independent science advisers, and now, they're going after the science itself," Rosenberg said. "What is transparent is the unabashed takeover of EPA leadership by individuals who have demonstrated disinterest in helping communities combat pollution by using the best available science." EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt during an interview in his office at the EPA headquarters in Washington[...]


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Travel ban case is Supreme Court's first dive into Trump policyThe Supreme Court is seen Feb. 1, 2017, in Washington. The justices' first deep dive into a Trump administration policy comes in a dispute over the administration's ban on travel from some countries with majority Muslim populations.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 05:01:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court has so far had little to say about Donald Trump’s time as president, even as the nation has moved from one Trump controversy to another. That’s about to change. The justices’ first deep dive into a Trump administration policy comes in a dispute over the third and latest version of the administration’s ban on travel from some countries with majority Muslim populations. Opponents of the policy and some lower courts have labeled it a “Muslim ban,” harking back to Trump’s campaign call to keep Muslims from entering the country. The high-stakes arguments at the high court on Wednesday could offer some indication about how a court that runs on respect for traditions and precedent will deal with a president who regularly breaks with convention. Apart from the campaign statements, Trump’s presidential tweets about the travel ban and last fall’s retweets of inflammatory videos that stoked anti-Islam sentiment all could feature in the court’s discussion of the travel ban’s legality. “The court could get to the right outcome without getting into the question of his tweets. But I think the president set it up so that it’s virtually impossible to ignore him when he’s shouting from the rooftops about what his purpose was in the three versions of the ban,” said Cecillia Wang, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy legal director. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who will argue the administration’s case, said in a court filing that the ban is well within the president’s authority and is not based on prejudice against Islam. In a sign of heightened public interest, the court is taking the rare step of making an audio recording of the proceedings available just hours after the arguments end. One key issue will be how the court evaluates administration actions. Neil Eggleston, President Barack Obama’s last White House counsel, suggested in an online forum last week that Trump does not merit the same measure of latitude that courts usually give presidents, especially in the areas of national security and immigration. “The court will have to wrestle with how much to defer to a President who has created this record of chaos and animus,” Eggleston and co-author Amanda Elbogen wrote on justsecurity.org. Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, cautioned that the court would be breaking new ground if it were to treat Trump differently from other presidents. The policy under review at the court applies to travelers from five countries with overwhelmingly Muslim populations – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. It also affects two non-Muslim countries: blocking travelers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families. A sixth majority Muslim country, Chad, was removed from the list this month after improving “its identity-management and information sharing practices,” Trump said in a proclamation. Francisco said the Chad decision shows that the restrictions are premised only on national security concerns. He also said that the State Department has cleared more than 430 visa applicants from the affected countries for waivers that would allow them to enter the U.S. But the challengers argue that the administration cannot ask the court to ignore all that has happened. Trump’s first travel ban was issued just a week after he took office in January 2017, and was aimed at seven countries. It triggered chaos and prote[...]


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U.S. won't ease sanctions without action by N. Korea on nukesIn this undated file photo distributed Sept. 3, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (second from right) is seen at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 05:01:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The White House said Monday that North Korea won’t get sanctions relief until it takes “concrete action” toward denuclearization, the goal of President Donald Trump’s planned summit with Kim Jong Un.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comments appeared to leave open the possibility of easing the U.S.-led “maximum pressure” campaign before North Korea had completely given up its nuclear weapons.

But Sanders said the U.S. wouldn’t make the mistake of past administrations in taking the North Koreans “simply at their word.” She said, “We’ve seen some steps in the right direction but we have a long way to go.”

On Saturday, North Korea announced it will close its nuclear testing facility and suspend nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests – a move welcomed by Trump as “big progress.” The North stopped short of suggesting it will give up its nuclear weapons or scale back its production of missiles and their related components.

Asked if the suspension of tests was a positive sign, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday, “Right now, I think there (are) a lot of reasons for optimism that the negotiations will be fruitful and we’ll see.”

This Friday, U.S.-allied South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim will hold a summit in the demilitarized zone between the Koreas that could lay the ground for Trump’s planned meeting with the North Korean dictator in May or early June. The leaders of the U.S. and North Korea have never met during six decades of hostility since the Korean War.

Sanders said the U.S. goal was the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. When asked if the president was willing to accept anything short of that goal before lifting sanctions or was willing to go incrementally, she told reporters: “Certainly no sanctions lifted until we see concrete actions taken by North Korea to denuclearize.”

Last year, the U.S. spearheaded through the U.N. Security Council the toughest international sanctions yet against North Korea in response to three long-range missile launches and its most powerful nuclear test explosion yet. The Trump administration supplemented those restrictions with unilateral U.S. sanctions against firms that had conducted illicit trade with the North.

This year, Kim has pivoted from confrontation to diplomacy and, according to South Korea and China, has expressed a commitment to denuclearization. There is still uncertainty about what he seeks in return.

Three weeks ago, Trump’s pick to be the next secretary of state, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, became the most senior U.S. official to travel to North Korea in nearly two decades, but the content of his discussions with Kim has not been made public.

The last nuclear talks between the U.S. and North Korea collapsed in 2012. The two nations also remain in a technical state of war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice not a peace treaty.

In this undated file photo distributed Sept. 3, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (second from right) is seen at an undisclosed location in North Korea.


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Closing arguments, deliberations loom in Bill Cosby retrialBill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial Monday at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 05:01:00 GMT

NORRISTOWN, Pa. – Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial is set to go to the jury on Tuesday, but not before closing arguments pitting the prosecution’s portrayal of a serial predator against the defense’s contention that he’s the victim of a “con artist” who made up drugging and molestation allegations to score a big payday. The defense rested on Monday after the 80-year-old comedian said he wouldn’t testify, echoing his decision at his first trial, which ended in a hung jury last year. “You now have all of the evidence,” Judge Steven O’Neill told jurors, sending them back to their sequestration hotel after an abbreviated day of testimony. “Try to relax, so that you’re on your game tomorrow.” Jurors at Cosby’s first trial deliberated for five days without reaching a verdict on three related counts of aggravated indecent assault. Each carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years. That trial hinged largely on chief accuser Andrea Constand’s testimony alleging that the “Cosby Show” star once known as America’s Dad knocked her out with three pills and violated her at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in January 2004. Cosby has said he gave Costand a cold and allergy medicine to help her relax before what he called a consensual sexual encounter. The current panel of seven men and five women also heard from Constand, but both sides have given them much more to consider. This time, prosecutors were able to call five additional accusers who testified that Cosby also drugged and violated them – including one woman who asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?” Cosby’s new defense team, led by Michael Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau, countered with a far more robust effort at stoking doubts about Constand’s credibility and raising questions about whether Cosby’s arrest was even legal. The defense’s star witness was a former colleague of Constand who says Constand spoke of leveling false sexual assault accusations against a high-profile person for the purpose of filing a civil suit. Constand got a civil settlement of nearly $3.4 million from Cosby. Both juries also heard from Cosby himself, via an explosive deposition he gave in 2005 and 2006 as part of Constand’s civil suit against him. In it, Cosby acknowledged he gave the sedative quaaludes to women before sex in the 1970s. Cosby’s lawyers devoted the last two days of their case to travel records they say prove he couldn’t have been at his suburban Philadelphia home in January 2004. Cosby’s lawyers argue that any encounter there with Constand would have happened earlier, thus falling outside the statute of limitations. The date of the alleged encounter is important because Cosby was charged late in 2015 – just before the 12-year statute of limitations was set to expire. But prosecutors pointed out multiple stretches of time that month when Cosby wasn’t aboard his private jet or performing around the country. And District Attorney Kevin Steele noted in court Monday that the records reflect only jet travel, not other modes of transportation. The flight records and travel itineraries produced by Cosby’s lawyers do not show any flights in or out of the Philadelphia area in January 2004, indicating he wasn’t around for the alleged assault, according to the defense. But the records also have large gaps – a total of 17 days that mon[...]


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Van kills 10, injures 15 in Toronto; driver in custodyPolice are seen near a damaged van after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into pedestrians in Toronto on Monday. The van apparently jumped a curb Monday in a busy intersection in Toronto and struck the pedestrians and fled the scene before it was found and the driver was taken into custody, Canadian police said.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

TORONTO – A rented van plowed down a crowded Toronto sidewalk Monday, killing 10 people and injuring 15 before the driver fled and was quickly arrested in a confrontation with police, Canadian authorities said. Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately, but police officials would not comment on the cause or any possible motive. Speaking at a news conference Monday night, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders raised the initial death toll of nine to 10, saying another victim had died at a hospital. He said 15 others were hospitalized. Saunders identified the man detained after the incident as Alek Minassian, 25, a resident of the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill. Authorities released few details in the case, saying the investigation was still underway, with witnesses being interviewed and surveillance video being examined. “I can assure the public all our available resources have been brought in to investigate this tragic situation,” Toronto Police Services Deputy Chief Peter Yuen said earlier. The incident occurred as Cabinet ministers from the major industrial countries were gathered in Canada to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G7 meeting near Quebec City in June. Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said that it was too soon to say whether the crash was a case of international terrorism and that the government had not raised its terrorism alert. A senior national government official later said that authorities had not turned over the investigation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a sign that investigators believed it unlikely terrorism was the motive. The official agreed to reveal that information only if not quoted by name. The driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street about 1:30 p.m. and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped onto the sidewalk. Ali Shaker, who was driving near the van at the time, told Canadian broadcast outlet CP24 that the driver appeared to be moving deliberately through the crowd at more than 30 mph. “He just went on the sidewalk,” a distraught Shaker said. “He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit.” Witness Peter Kang told CTV News that the driver did not seem to make any effort to stop. “If it was an accident, he would have stopped,” Kang said. “But the person just went through the sidewalk. He could have stopped.” Video broadcast on several Canadian outlets showed police arresting the driver, dressed in dark clothes, after officers surrounded him and his rental Ryder van several blocks from where the incident occurred in the North York neighborhood of northern Toronto. He appeared to make some sort of gesture at the police with an object in his hand just before they ordered him to lie down on the ground and took him away. Witness Phil Zullo told Canadian Press that he saw police arresting the suspect and people “strewn all over the road” where the incident occurred. “I must have seen about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers,” Zullo said. “It was awful. Brutal.” Police shut down the Yonge and Finch intersection following the incident and Toronto’s transit agency said it had s[...]


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New lynching memorial in Alabama evokes terror of victimsPart of a statue depicting chained people is on display Sunday at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new memorial to honor thousands of people killed in racist lynchings in Montgomery, Ala. The national memorial aims to teach about America's past in hope of promoting understanding and healing. It's scheduled to open Thursday.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Visitors to the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice first glimpse them, eerily, in the distance: Brown rectangular slabs, 800 in all, inscribed with the names of more than 4,000 souls who lost their lives in lynchings between 1877 and 1950. Each pillar is 6 feet tall, the height of a person, and made of steel that weathers to different shades of brown. Viewers enter at eye level with the monuments, allowing a view of victims' names and the date and place of their slaying. As visitors descend downward on a slanted wooden plank floor, the slabs seemingly rise above them, suspended in the air in long corridors, evoking the image of rows of hanging brown bodies. The memorial and an accompanying museum that open this week in Montgomery are a project of the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, a legal advocacy group in Montgomery. The organization says the two sites will be the nation's first "comprehensive memorial dedicated to racial terror lynchings of African Americans and the legacy of slavery and racial inequality in America." There is one column for each of the 800 U.S. counties where researchers uncovered lynchings. Most of the roughly 4,400 killings happened in the South, but states coast-to-coast are represented. Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, said he wanted to create a space for people to confront and "deal honestly with this history," just as South Africa has sites about apartheid and Germany memorializes victims of the Holocaust. "We don't have many places in America where we have urged people to look at the history of racial inequality, to look at the history of slavery, of lynching, of segregation," said Stevenson, who is black. The memorial opens the same week that Alabama marks Confederate Memorial Day, an official state holiday in which state offices will close. The first installation visitors see up close comprises statues of six slaves with chains around their necks, lash marks on their backs. A mother, face twisted in horror, cradles an infant in one arm and stretches out her other hand reaching for something, or someone, outside her grasp. Beyond the sculptures are the monuments to those who lost their lives to "racial terror" lynchings after the Civil War. A section of epitaphs gives the brief story behind some the names: • "Fred Rochelle, 16, was burned alive in a public spectacle lynching before thousands in Polk County, Florida, in 1901." • "David Walker, his wife and their four children were lynched in Hickman, Kentucky, in 1908 after Mr. Walker was accused of using inappropriate language with a white woman." Relatives of Thomas Miles Sr., a black business owner lynched in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1912, visited the site Monday. First they visited the museum, where dirt taken from the site of several lynchings, including Miles, is displayed. Then they stopped by the memorial. "I was crying. I felt anger. I felt frustration. I wanted to talk. I wanted to be quiet. There were so many emotions," said Shirah Dedman, who grew up knowing only that her great grandfather was lynched and that her family had fled the South because of it. Other descendants of victims want to hope to make the trip to Alabama to see the memorial. Caldwell Washington, 23, was found hanging from a tree in 1933 in what authorities in Taylor, Texas, first called a suicide. But fam[...]


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Waffle House slaying suspect arrested after massive manhuntNashville police officers search a neighborhood near a Waffle House restaurant Sunday, April 22, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. At least four people died after a gunman opened fire at the restaurant early Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:58:00 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The mentally unstable gunman suspected of killing four people in a late-night shooting at a Waffle House restaurant was arrested near his apartment Monday after hiding from police for more than a day, authorities said. Police and federal agents had mounted a massive manhunt for 29-year-old Travis Reinking after the Sunday morning attacks, in which a gunman clad only in a jacket used an assault rifle to attack a diverse crowd of patrons at the restaurant before being disarmed by a patron. Construction workers told officers Monday that a person matching Reinking’s description walked into the woods near a construction site, Lt. Carlos Lara told reporters. A detective spotted Reinking, who lay down on the ground to be handcuffed when confronted, Lara said Reinking carried a black backpack with a silver semi-automatic weapon and .45-caliber ammunition, Lara said. Detectives cut the backpack off him. Police spokesman Don Aaron said Reinking requested a lawyer and was taken to a hospital before he would be booked on four counts of criminal homicide. It’s not clear why Reinking attacked shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday, although he may have “mental issues,” Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said earlier. Police said Reinking opened fire in the restaurant parking lot before storming the restaurant, which had about 20 people inside. Four people – three of them black and one Hispanic – were killed and four others injured before a customer wrestled the weapon away and Reinking, who is white, ran out, police said. Police said Reinking stole a BMW days before the attack. The car quickly was recovered, but authorities did not immediately link the theft to Reinking. Meanwhile, authorities in Illinois shared past reports suggesting multiple red flags about a disturbed young man with paranoid delusions. In May 2016, Reinking told deputies from Tazewell County, Illinois, that music superstar Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone, and that his family also was involved. Reinking agreed to go to a local hospital for an evaluation after repeatedly resisting the request, the sheriff’s report said. Another sheriff’s report said Reinking barged into a community pool in Tremont, Illinois, in June, and jumped into the water wearing a pink woman’s coat over his underwear. Investigators believed he had an AR-15 rifle in his car trunk, but it was never displayed. No charges were filed. Last July, Reinking was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service after he entered a restricted area near the White House and refused to leave, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump. Reinking was not armed, but at the FBI’s request, Illinois police revoked his state firearms card and seized four guns from him, authorities said. The AR-15 used in the shootings was among those seized. In August, Reinking told police that he wanted to file a report about 20 to 30 people tapping into his computer and phone and people “barking like dogs” outside his residence, according to a report. “There’s certainly evidence that there’s some sort of mental health issues involved,” Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston said. But he said deputies returned the guns to Reinking’s father on the promise he would “keep the weapons secure and out of the possession o[...]


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Illinois' late fees skyrocket over past 3 yearsGregory Gac, left, of Illinois Financing Partners and Brian Hynes,of Vendor Assistance Program talk after testifying at a legislative hearing Monday, April 23, 2018, in Springfield, Ill., that their companies are owed hundreds of millions of dollars in late-payment penalties by the state. Their firms and two others participate in the Illinois Vendor Assistance Program. They borrow billions of dollars to pay government vendors on time with the promise that state repayment will come with prompt-payment penalty fees, which state law requires be paid "within a reasonable period of time." The firms have waited as long as a year for penalty pay, which covers lending and operational costs of the program. †(AP Photo/John O'Connor)

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:58:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois has racked up more in late-payment fees in less than three years than it did in the previous 18 years combined, according to a report The Associated Press obtained Monday, and some major creditors say they’ve waited more than a year to receive the interest they’re owed. The report by state Comptroller Susana Mendoza found that the $16 billion in past-due debt that piled up during a two-year budget stalemate comes with a steep price. Since July 2015, Mendoza reported, prompt-payment penalties have totaled $1.14 billion, $100 million more than the total from 1998 up to then. Mendoza, a Democrat, was scheduled to release the report Tuesday, the first accounting of past-due bills and accrued interest since she was successful in getting a law requiring state agencies to report their incurred bills monthly. Earlier Monday, private companies, which have kept government vendors afloat by paying their bills and relying on state reimbursement with interest, told lawmakers they’ve waited months for late-penalty payments, threatening the program. Representatives of the four so-called qualified purchasers told the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability that banks and other lenders could dry up without timely late-fee payment. “We essentially get slapped in the face when we’re paid the base invoice amount and none of the $100 million in prompt payment penalty due,” said Gregory Gac, secretary-treasurer of Illinois Financing Partners, a qualified purchaser. Mendoza spokeswoman Jamey Dunn said Mendoza is “still in triage mode” in paying what ballooned to $15.9 billion in overdue bills last summer after a historic, two-year budget standoff between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly. Additional borrowing – at a lower interest rate – through a $6.5 billion bond issue last fall cut that backlog in half, but Dunn said vendors statewide “are still experiencing payment delays.” Mendoza is prioritizing education and assistance to the “most vulnerable residents,” Dunn said. The state has paid about $300 million in penalties since the beginning of 2017, Dunn said. With bills paid from the bond issue, interest-payment vouchers have been ticking up. The comptroller held $553 million in penalty vouchers on March 31, up from $116 million at the end of December. The state must pay 12 percent annual interest on many bills unpaid after 90 days. State law requires those charges be paid “within a reasonable amount of time.” Another law requires penalties on some health insurance bills to be paid within 30 days. Mendoza’s report indicated that $149 million in penalties fall under the 30-day window, although not all of it had missed the deadline. Gac said some of the $115 million in penalties that Illinois Financing Partners is owed should have been paid within 30 days. Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat and co-chairwoman of the commission, said it seems a reasonable strategy to stop interest from continuing to build by paying the principal. But Gac said that during the budget stalemate, some lenders nixed further borrowing and others tightened loan terms. Another showdown could “kill the program,” he said. Vendor Assistance Program, one of the qualified purchasers, began buying overdue vendor invoices even before[...]


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Nelson’s Jewelry in Crystal Lake celebrates 55 years

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:57:00 GMT

Nelson’s Jewelry is celebrating its 55th anniversary. The Nelson family has served the Crystal Lake community and McHenry County since 1962.

Art and Alice Nelson opened Nelson’s Jewelry on Oct. 15, 1962. The original store was a 240-square-foot front office of a medical professional complex. Over the years, the Nelson family took every opportunity to increase its business space as doctors in the building moved.

Art and Alice Nelson encouraged their sons, Bob and Rich Nelson, to work for them. Today, Bob and Rich Nelson operate Nelson’s Jewelry together. Bob handles the sales floor, and Rich is the primary goldsmith, offering jewelry repair using laser technology and managing the service department. Bob’s wife, Sue Nelson, also is active on the sales floor, and Rich’s wife, Judi Nelson, recently joined the team to support sales and the repair division.

Cathy Jager, Jennifer Jorgensen and Justin Banaszynski keep the store running. Honesty and fairness are the foundation of the business, and personalized service has kept Nelson’s Jewelry flourishing for its 55 years.


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Crystal Lake School District 47 fourth-grader advances in national cooking competitionOut of about 2,600 entries from students across the country, five Sodexo future chefs competed to become 2018’s top five semifinalists. Emmie Picchi, a fourth-grader at Woods Creek Elementary School in Crystal Lake, became a finalist with her crunchy wonton taco cups recipe.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:57:00 GMT

Sodexo, the world leader in quality-of-life services and a student-nutrition partner to about 400 school districts throughout the U.S., announced five student finalists in the 2018 Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge – including a Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 student. This year, elementary school students from Sodexo-served districts accepted the challenge to create healthy Asian-inspired recipes that children or adults could enjoy. The public is invited to view students’ video submissions and vote for the winning recipe at sodexoinsights.com/quality-of-life-services/schools/2018-sodexo-future-chefs-competition. Voting ends at 11 p.m. Sunday. Out of about 2,600 entries from students across the country, five Sodexo future chefs competed to become 2018’s top five semifinalists. Emmie Picchi of District 47 became a finalist with her crunchy wonton taco cups recipe. Emmie, a fourth-grader at Woods Creek Elementary School in Crystal Lake, said crunchy wonton taco cups are easy, healthy and tasty. “They’re a combination of Asian and Mexican food,” she said. “I was looking for an Asian-inspired recipe and found one on Pinterest, so I decided to make it my own.” Emmie took first place at the third annual competition March 24 at Hannah Beardsley Middle School in Crystal Lake. At the competition, Emmie and eight other District 47 fourth- and fifth-graders prepared their Asian-inspired recipes for a panel of judges. Emmie advanced to the next round of judging and was the only student in Illinois to finish among 40 regional semifinalists. She then was named a top five finalist on the national level. Emmie watches cable TV cooking shows and said she first became interested in cooking because her mom and dad love to cook. She’s been cooking for the past year or two and enjoys making a variety of ethnic foods. “Try your hardest,” she said. “Just have fun and you’ll be a winner.” Now in its eighth year, the Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge encourages healthy-eating habits by actively involving students in good nutrition. Sodexo is renowned for its work in advancing childhood nutrition, health and well-being and understands that engaging youth in the creation of nutritious meals is one of the best ways to improve health, fuel minds and improve academic outcomes. Students participating in the program represent more than 1,300 Sodexo-served elementary schools in 256 school districts and 30 states. A panel of judges reviewed the recipes and evaluated them based on originality, healthy attributes, ease of preparation, kid-friendliness and plate presentation. Programs such as the Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge are part of Sodexo’s commitment to health, well-being and support for school districts and communities. Sodexo is committed to taking measurable sustainable actions that ensure a brighter future in the areas of health and wellness, environmental stewardship and community development. The future chefs program is one of the ways Sodexo shares its health and well-being expertise with clients, customers and communities it serves. Another example is Sodexo’s use of research-based principles recommended in the Smarter Lunchroom Movement – developed by the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Chil[...]


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Environmental Defenders of McHenry County details support for solar farmsA solar panel farm is photographed March 28 in McHenry.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:57:00 GMT

The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County supports the sustainable opportunity that community solar farms represent in McHenry County, and the group invites the public to review its “Position on Community Solar Farms” paper on the organization’s website, www.mcdef.org.

The Environmental Defenders recognizes the need for society to embrace clean forms of energy and move away from energy that produces pollution, contaminates water and degrades the planet’s environmental health.

To this end, the group welcomes the opportunity for the county to support community solar farms, and it looks to play a role in helping the projects provide the greatest environmental benefits.

Just as agricultural crops convert energy from the sun into energy consumed as food, solar farms convert the sun’s energy into a clean form of electrical energy used to power daily life.

Local community solar farms provide opportunities for residents and businesses to access clean renewable energy without having to install solar power infrastructure on their own.

Properly designed community solar farms in the area will provide a stackable set of benefits to the community, including a local, clean energy source; a habitat for declining pollinators and other wildlife; the rebuilding of soil; infiltration areas to recharge vital groundwater reserves; reduction in runoff from plowed fields; and improvement in downstream water quality. Prairie solar farms also will be peaceful, quiet, and odorless neighbors.

To learn about community solar power, visit Citizens Utility Board’s community solar farms fact sheet at citizensutilityboard.org/community-solar-illinois.

For information, email envirodefmc@gmail.com or call 815-338-0393.

Founded in 1970, The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the environment.

The group provides the community with educational programs and volunteer action through committees, including waste reduction; transportation; water and nature resources protection; BYOBag; education; fundraising and membership.

Donations and membership are encouraged. For information, visit www.mcdef.org or facebook.com/EnvironmentalDefenders.

A solar panel farm is photographed March 28 in McHenry.


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The Community Foundation for McHenry County awards $15,750 grant to Girl ScoutsGirl Scouts of Northern Illinois grant manager Gwen Koehler accepted a $15,750 check for the organization from The Community Foundation for McHenry County.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:57:00 GMT

The Community Foundation for McHenry County has named Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois a recipient of a $15,750 grant.

GSNI will use the funds to implement a forestry plan at Mary Ann Beebe Center, one of its camping properties in Harvard.

The plan will improve the environmental viability and biodiversity of the woodlands, wetlands and prairies on the property.

Based on the plan, GSNI has identified necessary steps to maintain and improve the environmental health of Mary Ann Beebe Center. This project will support the implementation of a critical segment of the plan.

This year, the plan specifically will address issues of invasive species and biodiversity in targeted portions of the 295-acre property.

The areas targeted for environmental restoration also will provide increased native wildlife, which will support the expansion of threatened and endangered species found in similar habitats in nearby communities, including Blanding’s turtle, the common moorhen, the least bittern, the northern long-eared bat and the yellow-headed blackbird.

GSNI will engage girls and adult volunteers in this restoration, creating an educational component to the project. Volunteers on the camp’s Green Team will learn about the importance of environmental conservation and restoration practices, and they will be able to share this knowledge with the community.

Girls will explore careers related to the environment, as well as the equipment and technology required in the field.

Girls and adult volunteers using the camp property throughout the year also will have an opportunity to learn about and engage in the project, further spreading knowledge of the importance of these efforts.

GSNI is among 20 arts and culture, education and environmental service organizations serving McHenry County that received grants totaling $176,900 from The Community Foundation during the granting cycle.

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois aims to develop the independence and confidence in young girls to guide their own lives and build a better world. With programs focused on the outdoors; career and interest exploration; travel and global community; and practical life skills, in addition to community service projects, every girl has the opportunity to unlock her full potential.

The organization serves 16 counties, including parts or all of Boone, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago.

For information, visit www.girlscoutsni.org or call 844-476-4463.

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois grant manager Gwen Koehler accepted a $15,750 check for the organization from The Community Foundation for McHenry County.


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McHenry County offering training for potential volunteer literacy tutors

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:56:00 GMT

McHenry County College is offering free training for anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer literacy tutor. 

The college’s Adult Education Department provides county residents with an opportunity to tutor adult students in reading, math or English as a second language. Anyone older than age 18 with a desire to make a difference in someone’s life is encouraged to join.

Training is a combination of online lessons and face-to-face sessions, including 13 online lessons and three face-to-face sessions (two hours each). Face-to-face sessions are offered from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, May 8 to 22 or from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, May 10 to 24.

A literacy volunteer tutor does not have to speak a second language or have any teaching experience to tutor in the adult education literacy program.

Volunteer tutors will receive free basic training that provides the information and skills needed to work with literacy students.

Last year, more than 100 volunteers tutored about 400 adult learners at MCC. Tutors helped students improve their proficiency in English and provided basic reading and math skills. Instructional materials also are provided, along with support from MCC’s Adult Education Department staff and faculty.

This project was made possible in part by a grant awarded by the Illinois State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, using state funds designated for literacy.

To register, visit www.mchenry.edu/volunteer, scroll to the purple “Contact” heading and click on “ask Marie Day to contact you.”

Anyone who does this will receive information needed to begin training. For information, contact Marie Day at 815-455-8542 or mdayvolunteers@mchenry.edu.




America's Cardboard Cup Regatta set in Crystal LakeEast Dundee residents Molly and Brian Barrett, members of A Bigger Boat – named for its reference to the movie "Jaws" – walk their boat to the finish line after capsizing during a previous America's Cardboard Cup Regatta.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:56:00 GMT

Although last year’s America’s Cardboard Cup Regatta “shore” was a wreck, the organization is back and ready to make waves this year.

The regatta will be returning July 28 to Crystal Lake Main Beach.

Unfavorable weather conditions postponed the event last summer. It then was canceled on its rain date because of high water levels after flooding in Crystal Lake.

Recognizing the humor in its own misfortune, regatta officials have posed a new challenge to the community: “We may have won Most Spectacular Sinking last year – who will take this year’s title?”

Despite last year’s mishap, the organization still is in high spirits and determined more than ever to make the 2018 regatta a success.

One way it plans to do this is by moving its traditional June date to July.

“Not only does July have more of that summer feeling, [but] moving the date allows more people to get involved, and for a better overall regatta experience for our community,” board chairwoman Kate Wilford said. “This year, we are excited to partner with The Cottage and their Motown Festival.”

The move creates an opportunity to enjoy daylong community celebrations because participants can head over to The Cottage and wind down once the regatta is complete. Additionally, the date change allows community members more time to work on their boats and gives the organization time to raise more funds.

In its 34th year, America’s Cardboard Cup Regatta brings the McHenry County community together for a day of fun, family-friendly competition and fundraising for local charities.

Participants are challenged to use their creativity and make boats out of cardboard, which is kindly provided by American Eagle Packaging Co. On race day, boats can be entered into different competition categories, including sections for senior racers, awards for the most creative design and the notorious Most Spectacular Sinking award.

All proceeds from the event go to local nonprofit organizations and charities that are working to help others in the northwest suburbs, including Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County, Alexander Leigh Center for Autism, Turning Point of McHenry County and more.

This year’s regatta will hold true to tradition at Main Beach.

For information and to register, visit cardboardcup.harmonicmix.com.

East Dundee residents Molly and Brian Barrett, members of A Bigger Boat – named for its reference to the movie "Jaws" – walk their boat to the finish line after capsizing during a previous America's Cardboard Cup Regatta.


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Wauconda man, teen face pot charges after witness reports drug dealTrevor J. O'Neill, 22, of the 300 block of Old Country Way, Wauconda

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:52:00 GMT

A man was released from the McHenry County Jail over the weekend after police said they found him and a 17-year-old boy with more than a pound of marijuana.

Police received a 911 called reporting a possible drug deal Friday near Route 176 and Terra Cotta Avenue in Crystal Lake.

When officers arrived, they stopped the suspected car and found more than a pound of marijuana, Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said in an email Monday.

The driver, 22-year-old Trevor J. O’Neill, and a 17-year-old passenger were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, manufacturing and delivering marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

O’Neill, of the 300 block of Old Country Way, Wauconda, posted $4,000 bail and was released from jail Sunday. He was appointed a public defender.

O’Neill is due in court Wednesday. There are no other pending charges against him in either McHenry or Lake counties, records show.

The most serious charge, delivery of marijuana, typically is punishable by two to five years in prison.

Charges filed against the 17-year-old will be handled in juvenile court, Hyrkas said.

Trevor J. O'Neill, 22, of the 300 block of Old Country Way, Wauconda


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Portions of Sleepy Hollow Road in Algonquin close for Longmeadow Parkway constructionA worker takes a break from construction Monday on the Longmeadow Parkway in Algonquin between Randall Road and Karen Drive.Construction signs are displayed Monday near the intersection of Longmeadow Parkway and White Chapel Lane in Algonquin.Construction signs are displayed Monday near the intersection of Longmeadow Parkway and White Chapel Lane looking toward Karen Lane in Algonquin.Construction signs are displayed Monday near the intersection of Longmeadow Parkway and White Chapel Lane looking toward Karen Lane in Algonquin.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:52:00 GMT

New construction began Monday on the Longmeadow Parkway project in Algonquin.

The southbound right-turn lane of Sleepy Hollow Road north of Longmeadow Parkway and a portion of the westbound outside lane of Longmeadow Parkway east of Sleepy Hollow Road will be closed for the next three to four weeks, according to a news release from the Kane County Division of Transportation.

The closures will allow crews to safely work on creating a small wall for the project. Motorists are asked to reduce speed and use caution while driving through the construction zone. They should obey flaggers and watch out for construction equipment entering and leaving the project site, according to the release.

The Longmeadow Parkway Fox River bridge corridor is a planned tree-lined parkway, and the crossing will feature a landscaped median that is about 5.6 miles long from Huntley Road to Route 62.

The road passes through portions of Algonquin, Carpentersville, Barrington Hills and unincorporated areas of Kane County.

“[This] will provide a valuable benefit to the public by relieving congestion, encouraging economic development, improving travel options and connecting towns and neighborhoods,” the release stated.

The project has $14.5 million in federal funds and another $39.4 million from the state, according to its website, with the total engineering cost estimated at $115 million.

The 5.6-mile corridor will be free to the public, but a toll at the bridge will charge drivers an estimated 75 cents. The toll will end once the bridge debt is paid off.

The controversial project was stopped two times during construction – once because of a restraining order meant to protect an endangered species, and a second time because of the state’s budget impasse.

A group of residents against the project – known as the Save Brunner Family Forest Preserve – also collaborated to file a lawsuit against the project.

A worker takes a break from construction Monday on the Longmeadow Parkway in Algonquin between Randall Road and Karen Drive.Construction signs are displayed Monday near the intersection of Longmeadow Parkway and White Chapel Lane in Algonquin.Construction signs are displayed Monday near the intersection of Longmeadow Parkway and White Chapel Lane looking toward Karen Lane in Algonquin.Construction signs are displayed Monday near the intersection of Longmeadow Parkway and White Chapel Lane looking toward Karen Lane in Algonquin.


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Residents to make final plea against Lake in the Hills water main saleDebbie Mahler (left) and her daughter, Michelle Mahler, discuss the condition of water at their home Thursday in Lake in the Hills.The Mahlers' beagle, Kevin, stands next to bottled water, which the family uses instead of tap water.Debbie Mahler pours a glass of water from the kitchen sink of her home Thursday in Lake in the Hills.Debbie Mahler of Lake in the Hills explains her concerns about the water supply Thursday in Lake in the Hills.Debbie Mahler (left) and her daughter, Michelle, express concerns about their water supply Thursday in Lake in the Hills.Debbie Mahler examines a glass of water from her kitchen sink Thursday in Lake in the Hills.Michelle Mahler sits outside of the home she shares with her mother Thursday in Lake in the Hills.Debbie Mahler of Lake in the Hills explains her concerns about the village's water supply Thursday in Lake in the Hills.Debbie Mahler speaks about the condition of water in her home Thursday in Lake in the Hills.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:51:00 GMT

Each day, Debbie Mahler ensures that her wheelchair-bound daughter, Michelle, gets the proper vitamins and medicine she needs – all while avoiding using the village’s water. Instead, Mahler heads to a rack with gallons of bottled water. Even her rescue beagle, Kevin, slurps up bottled water. Why? The water is dirty, she said, and with her medical bills already piling up, she can’t afford a rate increase. “I’m stretched to the limit as it is, and if they bring up the water rates any more, I seriously don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Mahler, who has lived in the unincorporated area of Lake in the Hills for 12 years. “I can’t afford to live here anymore, and have to look for something else.” The pipes, owned by the village of Lake in the Hills, were made of now-obsolete asbestos-composite material that is subject to deterioration. Now the pipes are so fragile that staff members cannot perform basic flushing maintenance without causing water main breaks, village officials have said, which has prompted the village to consider selling the system. Although they aren’t pleased with the water, 71 unincorporated customers are fighting to keep it because they fear a proposed sale will lead to higher rates. Lake in the Hills Public Works Department Director Dan Kaup said the Village Board has considered selling the water main system since 2010, but residents were surprised to suddenly see the sale on the board’s agenda in February. Kaup said the village never received many complaints from the unincorporated area south of Algonquin Road until the sale was announced. The village bought the system in the 1970s, and the main was installed in the 1950s. Replacements could cost $1.8 million, and the village generates $30,000 a year from the system. “Trustees say it was a bad decision to buy the system, but this board inherited the problem, and they had 40 years to do something about it and did nothing,” Mahler said. “They’ve shunned us and treat us like the red-headed stepchild, but you didn’t think that when you bought the system 40 years ago.” Trustees will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Village Hall, 600 Harvest Gate, to hear a presentation on the village’s options from Rachel Zastrow. Trustee David McPhee proposed tabling the vote at a March 22 meeting to give residents 30 days to find an alternative. “It appears as though they have done that, so I suppose I have to technically keep up my end of the bargain and give it a full review, and make sure we are making the right decision,” McPhee said Monday. “It’s not a question of them being residents, but it’s a matter of what’s best overall for that particular area, and I don’t have an answer to that right now.” When reached by phone Monday, Village President Russ Ruzanski declined to comment on the matter until the meeting. He previously voiced concerns that if the village doesn’t sell the system, water rates for both Lake in the Hills residents and the unincorporated area would increase by 3 percent a year in 2019 to pay for replacement of the mains. He also has said it would be unfair to ra[...]


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Woodstock man charged with cocaine delivery bonds out of jailNikolas J. Bauer, 22, of the 700 block of Leah Lane, Woodstock

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:51:00 GMT

A Woodstock man posted $5,000 bail Friday and was released on charges alleging that he delivered between 1 and 15 grams of cocaine.

McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 22-year-old Nikolas Bauer, of the 700 block of Leah Lane, last week.

Officers said the man delivered cocaine Jan. 30 and March 8, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in McHenry County court.

The exact weight and street value of the drugs Bauer is accused of delivering was not available.

It is unclear how police came in contact with Bauer and why charges were filed more than a month after the alleged drug deal.

He has hired attorneys from McHenry-based law firm Donahue and Walsh to represent him on felony charges of possession of a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance.

The most serious charge, delivery of a controlled substance, typically carries a penalty of four to 15 years in prison.

Bauer posted bail in cash Friday and was released from the McHenry County Jail. His first court appearance is scheduled for May 21.

Nikolas J. Bauer, 22, of the 700 block of Leah Lane, Woodstock


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Marengo City Council approves gun range, shop for former McGill propertyMarengo resident Rebecca White speaks about a proposed gun range and shop at Marengo's City Council meeting Monday. White supports the plan.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:51:00 GMT

The Marengo City Council met Monday and approved a gun range proposal that has sparked concerns from residents.

Union-based developer D5 Ranges Inc. wants to use the former McGill property as a gun range and shop, but some residents and city officials are concerned that it’s not a right fit for the area.

The meeting was held at Marengo High School because too many people were in attendance to fit in the council chambers at City Hall.

“I am opposed to this because of its location,” said Jennifer Haas, who directs the Parent’s Day Out program with nearby Marengo United Methodist Church. “I know it will bring in tax revenue and attract people to the community, but the day care is right across the street.”

She said she has fielded many calls from parents concerned about the matter since its proposal.

“I understand the need to fill vacant storefronts, but I hope that desire doesn’t keep our elected officials from thinking long term,” Haas said.

D5 Ranges Inc. designs and manufactures gun ranges across the nation, and it has worked with U.S. military agencies, police departments and private range owners.

The company takes interested parties through the development process – from conception and design to fabrication, installation and outfitting, according to its website.

The former McGill building – historically used for manufacturing – most recently was owned by Marengo United Methodist Church.

The range would be subject to federal, state and local rules and regulations.

It also would include ventilation and filtration systems, target retrievers, a bullet-containment system and sound-diminishing acoustics.

The planning commission added provisions to the recommended permit that require the range to have an on-site breath test and zero tolerance policy. The shop won’t test patrons unless there is reason to suspect someone is under the influence, council members decided Monday.

D5 Ranges also would need to incorporate 24/7 lighting and security cameras, as well as review safety plans with the police department.

Many residents said the shop could spur needed economic development. People from Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills, Belvidere and other communities came to the meeting to voice their support.

“If businesses are out of town, people don’t come into the town as much,” Marengo resident Rebecca White said. “To bring it downtown will bring people in. I couldn’t think of a better place. You are going to have the police coming in from everywhere. ... It will bring safety to town. We don’t want to push businesses to the outskirts, especially when the downtown isn’t doing too well.”

Only 3rd Ward Alderman Matt Keenum voted against the proposal.

Marengo resident Rebecca White speaks about a proposed gun range and shop at Marengo's City Council meeting Monday. White supports the plan.


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State paying bills, but not late-payment interestIllinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, left, speaks to reporters outside Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's office during veto session at the Illinois State Capitol Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 19:34:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – During the Illinois budget crisis, private companies borrowed billions of dollars to pay government vendors on time with the promise that state repayment would come with late fees.

Now the participants in the Illinois vendor-assistance program say they're not getting hundreds of millions of dollars in late-payment interest they're owed.

The financiers told legislators Monday that lending banks might discontinue participation.

A $6.5 billion bond issue last fall helped state Comptroller Susana Mendoza pay down what was $16 billion in past-due bills.

But Gregory Gac of Illinois Financing Partners says it is still owed $115 million. Brian Hynes says his firm, Vendor Assistance Program, is owed $250 million.

Mendoza spokeswoman Jamey Dunn says Mendoza is still in bill-payment "triage" and is prioritizing schools and the "state's most vulnerable."

Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, left, speaks to reporters outside Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's office during veto session at the Illinois State Capitol Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)


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Police: Waffle House suspect arrested near his Tennessee apartmentDon Aaron, public affairs manager for the Metro Nashville Police Department, speaks at a news conference Monday, April 23, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn., regarding the search for a gunman who opened fire Sunday at a Waffle House restaurant. A suspect police have identified as 29-year-old Travis Reinking shot and killed at least four people at the restaurant. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 18:49:00 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The suspect in an attack that killed four people at a Waffle House restaurant in Tennessee was arrested Monday not far from his apartment, police said. Authorities had mounted a massive manhunt for 29-year-old Travis Reinking, after the Sunday morning attacks, in which a gunman clad only in a jacket used an AR-15 rifle to kill four and injure others. Metropolitan Nashville Police announced Monday on Twitter that he was taken into custody not far from his apartment. Photos posted by police in Nashville showed Reinking clothed and in a police car. Reinking, described as a white man with brown hair, opened fire with an AR-15 in the Waffle House parking lot and then stormed the restaurant shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday, police say. Four people were killed and four others were injured before a quick-thinking customer wrestled the assault weapon away, preventing more bloodshed. Reinking then disappeared, police said. Police say about 20 people were in the Waffle House at the time of the shootings. They included people of different races and ethnicities, but the four people killed were minorities_three black and one Hispanic. It's not clear why Reinking opened fire on restaurant patrons, though he may have "mental issues," Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said earlier. He was considered armed and dangerous, because he was known to have owned a handgun authorities have not recovered. More than 100 Nashville police officers had been going door-to-door and searching wooded areas, joined by dozens of agents with the FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Police said Reinking had stolen a BMW days before the attack. The car was quickly recovered, but authorities did not immediately link it to Reinking. Meanwhile, authorities in Illinois shared past reports suggesting multiple red flags about a disturbed young man with paranoid delusions. In May 2016, Reinking told deputies from Tazewell County, Illinois, that music superstar Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone, and that his family was also involved, according to a report released Sunday. Reinking agreed to go to a local hospital for an evaluation after repeatedly resisting the request, the sheriff's report said. Another sheriff's report said Reinking barged into a community pool in Tremont, Illinois, last June, and jumped into the water wearing a pink woman's coat over his underwear. Investigators believed he had an AR-15 rifle in his car trunk, but it was never displayed. No charges were filed. Last July, Reinking was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service after he crossed into a restricted area near the White House and refused to leave, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump. Reinking was not armed at the time, but at the FBI's request, state police in Illinois revoked his state firearms card and seized four guns from him, authorities said. The AR-15 used in the shootings was among [...]


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Thousands of girls joining boys as Cub ScoutsIn a Thursday, March 1, 2018 photo, Tatum Weir, center, raises her hand as she prepares to ask a question while going over plans to build a tool box during a cub scout meeting in Madbury, N.H. Fifteen communities in New Hampshire are part of an "early adopter" program to allow girls to become Cub Scouts and eventually Boy Scouts. Tatum and her twin brother Ian are planning to become the first set of girl-boy siblings to become Eagle Scouts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 14:38:00 GMT

DURHAM, N.H. – Ten-year-old twins Tatum and Ian Weir aren't about to let matching, minor injuries deter them from their goal of becoming the first sister-brother pair of Eagle Scouts. "I cut myself, too!" Tatum said, pausing only briefly during a recent Cub Scout meeting to touch her thumb to her brother's before continuing on with a woodworking project. New Hampshire's Daniel Webster Council, which includes Durham's Pack 154, is among more than 170 nationwide participating in an early adopter program as the Boy Scouts of America begins welcoming girls into the organization in new ways. The soft launch followed the Boy Scouts' announcement in October that it would begin admitting girls into the Cub Scouts starting later this year and would establish a new program next year for older girls based on the Boy Scout curriculum. "We heard from our families, 'OK, you've made the decision, can you please give us a way to do this right now because we've got families and daughters that are just really excited about it," said Boy Scouts spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos. "We heard that so much that we decided to kick off this early adopter program with the understanding that a lot of the materials we're working on, in terms of uniforms and handbooks and so forth were still in development," she said. "But folks were very understanding. They just wanted to be able to start." About two-thirds of councils nationwide signed up, bringing roughly 3,000 girls into the Cub Scouts so far, she said. Under the new plan, Cub Scout dens — the smallest unit — will be single-gender, either all boys or all girls. The larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to remain single-gender or not. Scouting leaders have some leeway, particularly in smaller communities. In Durham, for example, den leader Tuck Pescosolido recently led a group of four girls and four boys as they built wooden toolboxes. As the project got underway, the girls raised their hands and waited to be called on, while the boys were somewhat silly, cracking jokes about flying airplanes when asked about drilling pilot holes. But once they settled into the activity, things leveled out. "I didn't want to stereotype. But yes, I did expect perhaps the girls would be a little bit calmer, would be a little bit perhaps easier to manage in my role as the den leader, and to a certain extent that has played out," Pescosolido said. "But it's done so in a great way. It's not that the girls are sitting still. It's that they are very highly engaged in the task and they're less, perhaps, distracted by other things than the boys are." The girls have gotten an enthusiastic welcome from Scout leaders and the boys themselves, he said. Some of the new members are friends the boys recommended, while others are sisters of Scouts. BSA officials have said the changes are aimed, in part, at making things more convenient for busy families, though that notion doesn't sit well with some leaders at the Girl Scouts of the USA. "To me, a daughter is not a matter of convenie[...]


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McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals to continue solar complex hearing WednesdayA resident speaks during a McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals meeting April 5.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:59:00 GMT

The McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals will meet Wednesday to continue a hearing on the controversial solar complex proposed for McHenry Township.

California-based Shabadoo Solar, Chicago-based Cypress Renewables Development LLC and Wisconsin-based West Grant Development want to install panels on about 35 acres of a 90-acre farmland northeast of South Solon Road and West Ringwood Road.

The proposal has sparked concerns from neighbors who live near the property. They have taken issue with how the project will affect the land, future land use, property values, aesthetics, potential noise and radiation and whether the development will benefit the county.

During Wednesday's meeting, developers will finish their presentations and residents will be allowed to give input. The zoning board could make a decision Wednesday whether to recommend the proposal to the County Board for a final decision.

The hearing will be at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the county Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock.

• Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect the correct date of the McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

A resident speaks during a McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals meeting April 5.


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10 years after recall, thousands of risky air bags are still on the roadJewel Brangman was killed by shrapnel from a Takata air bag in this crash in Los Angeles. She was driving the rear vehicle, a Honda Civic.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:05:00 GMT

Alexander Brangman finds comfort in remembering how long his daughter lived - 26 years, 11 months, 9 hours and 15 minutes - rather than the horrible and needless way she died. Jewel Brangman, an academic all-American in high school, about to pursue a doctorate at Stanford, had no need to know much about the rental car she drove north toward Los Angeles on a sunny September Sunday almost four years ago. Then came a relatively minor crash - she rear-ended a minivan - and her air bag exploded with a spray of razor-sharp metal shards that severed her carotid artery. Ten years after the biggest safety recall in U.S. history began, Honda says there are more than 60,000 vehicles on the nation's roads equipped with what experts have called a "ticking time bomb" - defective air bags like the one that killed Brangman. The air bags, which sit about a foot from a driver's chest, have a 50-50 chance of exploding in a fender bender. They are the most deadly air bags remaining in the recall involving more than 37 million vehicles built by 19 automakers. At least 22 people worldwide have been killed and hundreds more permanently disfigured when the air bags that deployed to protect them instead exploded and sprayed shrapnel. The worst among the bad bags are known as Alphas, driver-side air bags installed in Hondas that have up to a 50 percent chance they will explode on impact. The 62,307 people still driving with them, many in older-model cars that may have changed hands several times, either have ignored the recall warnings or never received them, Honda said. With the number of deaths and disfigurements continuing to climb - the last fatality was in January - automakers and federal regulators have rewritten the rule book in their outreach efforts, including deploying teams to knock on doors of Honda owners who have not responded to recall notices. "We're good at repairing vehicles," said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America, "but finding and convincing customers of older model vehicles to complete recalls, now that has proved a difficult challenge." The 2001 Honda Civic that Brangman was driving came from Sunset Car Rentals, a small agency that had bought the vehicle at auction almost three years earlier, after it had been involved in a crash and was issued a salvage title. Though it had been under recall since 2009, Honda said it had mailed four recall notices without getting any response. Brangman's crash was the epitome of a fender bender: She struck a minivan from behind, damaging its bumper and that of the car she was driving, and buckling the hood of her car. "There was minimal damage," her father said. "It was highly questionable if the air bag should have deployed at all. It was something Jewel should have walked away from." Instead, "I walked in the USC trauma unit and what I saw was horrific: Here's the beautiful, angelic human being that was my daughter hooked up to this monstrous life support system," Brangman said. The doctors told him she was brain dead. Brangman later learned that for three weeks his daughter had been driving a rental car with a factory-equipped air bag that during the recall would come to be known as the Alpha model. A quirk in the manufacturing [...]


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Wisconsin is the GOP model for ‘welfare reform.’ But as work rules grow, family faces the hard realityJames Howlett helps his 5-year-old son, Kayden, out of the car before school. The family's recent troubles started in November, when Nadine lost a job while waiting to start another and Howlett's car broke down. The family couldn't afford rent anymore. Photo for The Washington Post by Alyssa Schukar

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:03:00 GMT

MILWAUKEE – The shock absorbers in James Howlett's Ford Fusion were busted, but he and his partner, Nadine, packed their two children inside anyway. They were already homeless, and their time on food stamps was running out. They needed to fix the car and dig up documents to try to get back on welfare. The suburban homeless shelter where they slept the night before was now in the distance as they made their way through the familiar blight of the city neighborhood that was once home. Howlett dropped Kayden, 5, at kindergarten and Cali, 3, at day care in a community center that stood amid the boarded-up houses and vacant fields surrounded by barbed wire that dot Milwaukee's north side. That's when he found himself gripped by a new worry: His run-down Ford might be another barrier to government assistance. In February, Wisconsin passed a law prohibiting food stamp recipients from owning a car valued at more than $20,000. Just how the law would work was still unclear to him, leaving Howlett to worry whether he'd have to choose between food for his family and his only car. "They probably wouldn't assess it at the purchase value, right?" Howlett wondered as he got back into the car. "I hope they don't say I have to sell this. I think it should be fine. I don't know, the way things are changing." The way things are changing in Wisconsin - and around much of the country - is that lawmakers are embracing increasingly aggressive measures to move the poor out of the social safety net and into the workforce. In 2013, Wisconsin took a leading role in this trend when Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation requiring childless adults who aren't disabled to work at least 20 hours a week to continue to qualify for food stamps. Those who didn't do so were required to attend training programs scattered throughout the state until they could find a job. In February, the state took it a step further: Parents of school-age children will also have to work to receive food stamps. And instead of 20 hours, they must work at least 30. Walker pushed for the asset limitations that worried Howlett to be applied to new cases to ensure that "people with giant mansions and fancy cars don't get welfare checks while hard-working taxpayers have to pay the bill." The state mandated drug testing for those who live in public housing. It is preparing to cut off Medicaid for parents who are behind on child-support payments. In all, lawmakers passed nine "welfare reform" bills, which they said will provide the motivation people need to stop relying on government help. "We will help people when they are down and out," Walker said in his State of the State address in January. "But for those who are able, public assistance should be a trampoline, not a hammock." Wisconsin has long been at the forefront of placing restrictions on government benefits. In the 1990s, Gov. Tommy Thompson led an effort to limit how long the poor could receive cash assistance. That approach appealed to President Bill Clinton, who used the state as a model for his federal changes, which reduced the number of families on welfare from 12.4 million in 1996 to 4.6 million in 2012 and transformed the government's relationship wit[...]


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AP-NORC Poll: Amid strikes, Americans back teacher raisesFILE - In this Friday, April 13, 2018 file photo, teachers from across Kentucky gather inside the state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., during a rally for increased education funding. Americans overwhelmingly believe teachers don't make enough money, and half say they'd support paying higher taxes to give educators a raise. That's according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that comes amid recent teacher strikes over low pay and the amount of money allocated to public schools in several Republican-led states. The poll found that parents and those without children are about as likely to think teachers are paid too little. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:00:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Americans overwhelmingly believe teachers don't make enough money, and half say they'd support paying higher taxes to give educators a raise. The findings of the new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research come amid recent teacher strikes and other protests over low pay, tough classroom conditions and the amount of money allocated to public schools in several Republican-led states. Tens of thousands of Arizona teachers voted last week to strike after rejecting an offer of a 20-percent raise, because it didn't include a vow from state lawmakers not to further cut taxes before providing more money for the state's schools. "To educate children and barely get a living is obnoxious," said Elaine Penman, a company manager in Tucson, Arizona, who added she and others went outside to cheer on protesting teachers who were marching by. She's among the 50 percent of Americas who say they'd pay a higher tax bill if it meant more money for teachers. "I'm a parent and I benefit directly from what teachers do," said Penman, who has two children in traditional public schools and one in a charter school. In 2016-2017, the average salary for a public school teacher was $58,950, down slightly from the previous year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Overall, 78 percent of Americans said that's not enough. Just 15 percent think teachers are paid the right amount, while 6 percent think they're paid too much. In a 2010 AP-Stanford poll, 57 percent of Americans said they thought teachers are paid too little. Americans in states with the lowest average teacher salaries — less than $50,000 a year — were slightly more likely to think teachers were paid too little and that the national average should be an important factor in determining salaries. The AP-NORC poll found that parents and those without children are about equally likely to think teachers are paid too little. It's a sentiment that crosses party lines, too. Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats, 78 percent of independents and 66 percent of Republicans think teacher salaries are too low. Slightly more than half of Americans — 52 percent — also approve of teachers leaving the classroom to strike in their search for higher pay, while 25 percent disapprove. Among those who say they've heard about the recent teacher protests, 80 percent say they approve of such tactics. The recent run of teacher protests began in March in West Virginia, where teachers won a raise after going on strike. The strategy soon spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona, where educators joined together online and have held increasingly frequent protests during the past six weeks. The poll found that 51 percent of Americans have been paying at least some attention to the protests. People living in states with the lowest teacher salaries were more likely to have heard a[...]


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Crystal Lake Park District considers selling $3.5M in debt bondsThe Crystal Lake Park District Board meets in December.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:36:00 GMT

Crystal Lake Park District board members are considering selling $3.5 million in bonds to fund new capital improvement projects.

Park District Executive Director Jason Herbster said that during his eight years at the district, board members have approved selling $1.5 million in general obligation park bonds every two years to fund a variety of projects.

“We are getting a loan and paying it back, and we’ve had other bonds for other things, but not this particular series of bonds,” Herbster said.

The district held a public hearing Thursday night to discuss using $3.5 million to cover the next two cycles of selling bonds, he said.

“The reason we are doing this hearing for $3.5 million is to save the expense of having to go through the process twice,” Herbster said. “The hearing is good for three years, and we are saving taxpayers money by not having to do this twice.”

Herbster said it avoids having to pay for publishing public notices and paying for bond council and advisers to put paperwork together on two occasions.

“We bring in outside professionals to help us with that process,” Herbster said. “It’s just a formality of how we go through issuing debt.”

The bond funding will go toward capital projects, building maintenance improvements, playground replacements and park infrastructure upgrades.

“$1.5 million doesn’t go very far, so our list of improvements isn’t very long,” Herbster said.

Items on the list include building improvements – such as fixing the air conditioning and furnace – land improvements and repaving tennis court surfaces. Flood prevention projects also are planned at places such as Lippold Park near Route 176.

The turf on the baseball fields at Lippold Park also will be replaced, costing about $500,000.

Each playground lasts about 20 years, and they are listed in age priority for repairs, Herbster said.

Board members will vote May 17 whether to sell the bonds. Advisers will put the bonds out to bid before, and information will be presented to trustees, Herbster said.

If 3,010 people sign a petition by May 14, the board will have to hold a referendum on the November ballot and seek voter approval.

The district’s annual budget is about $15 million, Herbster said.

The Crystal Lake Park District Board meets in December.


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Rudy Giuliani adds toughness, star power to legal team for TrumpFILE - In this Nov. 20, 2016, file photo, then-President-elect Donald Trump, right, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J. Giuliani is joining the legal team defending President Donald Trump in the special counsel’s Russia investigation. That’s according to a statement from Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:34:00 GMT

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida – For weeks, President Donald Trump had grown increasingly frustrated with the cable news chatter that he couldn't hire a big-name attorney for his legal team. But the president boasted to a confidant this week that he had struck a deal that he believed would silence those critics: He was hiring "America's F---ing Mayor." With the addition of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump gains a former U.S. attorney, a past presidential candidate and a TV-savvy defender at a time when the White House is looking for ways to bring the president's involvement with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation to a close. Trump has been weighing whether to sit for questioning by Mueller's team, and his lawyers have repeatedly met with investigators to define the scope of the questions he would face. Giuliani will enter those negotiations, filling the void left by attorney John Dowd, who resigned last month. The deal was finalized over dinner in the last week at Mar-a-Lago, the president's coastal Florida retreat. On Monday, Giuliani was spotted at a West Palm Beach hotel, gleefully puffing on a cigar but declining to talk to the press. Giuliani's addition to the legal team fulfills his long-delayed hope for a White House job. After drawing wide praise for his leadership in New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Giuliani ran for president seven years later, only to see his bid quickly falter. He has known Trump for decades – his bomb-throwing rhetorical style can at times mirror that of the president – and he became an aggressive surrogate for the celebrity businessman from the early days of his insurgent presidential campaign. Giuliani had been widely expected to join Trump's administration, but was passed over for the position of secretary of state, the position he badly wanted, and eventually left without a Cabinet post. But the president kept in touch with Giuliani, sometimes calling to ask for advice, both on policy and personnel, and frequently asking for the ex-mayor's take on how the stories surrounding the administration were playing in the media. Trump frequently sought Giuliani's opinion of developments in the special counsel's ongoing probe into possible Russian collusion, according to three people familiar with the conversations but not authorized to publicly discuss private talks. At one point last summer, the president informally floated hiring Giuliani, but did not follow through, according to one person familiar with his thinking, Trump then moved to formalize the arrangement in recent days, touting Giuliani's tenacity – and raving about his star power with the vulgar variation of Giuliani's "America's Mayor" nickname while talking with one person, who not authorized to discuss a private conversation. In a statement announcing Giuliani's hire, the president expressed his wish tha[...]


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French globalist Emmanuel Macron befriending nationalist TrumpFILE - In this May 25, 2017 file photo, US President Donald Trump, shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron, right, during a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels. Macron arrives Monday April 23, 2018 in Washington for the first state visit of Trump’s presidency. The two men have an unlikely friendship, despite strong differences on areas such as climate change. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:33:00 GMT

PARIS – Of everything Emmanuel Macron has accomplished in nearly a year as France’s president, the most important may be his tough-love friendship with Donald Trump. From their first bone-squeezing handshake to Macron’s recent claim that he persuaded Trump to bomb Syria, it’s been an improbable relationship. And it will be on pomp-filled display starting Monday as Macron goes on a state visit to Washington, the first by any leader since Trump took office. Macron calls Trump all the time. With other world leaders too wary or weak to woo the impulsive U.S. president, Macron calculates that it’s smarter and safer to talk to Trump than isolate him. The 40-year-old moderate progressive, who had never held elected office before he won France’s presidential election, defended his overtures to the 71-year-old conservative Trump in an interview on the broadcast “Fox News Sunday.” “I am not going to judge ... what should be your president, or to consider that because of these controversies or because of these investigations, your president is less credible,” he said. The French president has the most to gain from the three-day state visit. He wants to fortify his image as the face of today’s Europe and the No. 1 defender of a liberal world order, as well as prove that France is essential to solving world problems such as Iran’s nuclear ambitions and international trade wars. His aims may sound like French hubris or wishful thinking, but they are consistent with the “France is back” global strategy Macron has set for his tenure. He talks regularly to Russian President Vladimir Putin and other controversial leaders, too. He also has tried his own diplomatic maneuvering in the Middle East with the goals of defending French interests and making sure Europe has a say in the region’s future. For all their camaraderie, Macron and Trump disagree on some fundamental issues. Take global warming. Macron mocked Trump’s campaign slogan by promising in a Twitter video he recorded in English to “Make our planet great again!” The video was posted moments after Trump announced he wanted to pull out of the U.N.-sponsored Paris climate accord last year. Policy toward Iran is another point of discord. France is the most vigorous defender of the 2015 deal curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Trump is threatening to abandon the agreement next month. Macron hopes to make progress this week on convincing Trump to stay onboard. And then there’s trade. Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – who plans to visit Washington on Friday – have pushed back, hard on Trump’s steel tariffs and his “America First” vision, which threaten Europe’s powerful single market. By design, Macron’s state visit will be more about symbolism than substance, and no big b[...]


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Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capitalPeople gather outside a voter registration center which was attacked by a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday. Gen. Daud Amin, the Kabul police chief, said the suicide bomber targeted civilians who had gathered to receive national identification cards.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:32:00 GMT

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Islamic State suicide bomber carried out an attack at a voter registration center in the capital Kabul on Sunday, killing 57 people and wounding more than 100 others, said officials from the Afghan interior and public health ministries. Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majro said that among 57 who were killed in the attack, 22 were women and eight were children. Majro added that 119 people were wounded in Sunday’s attack, among them 17 children and 52 women. “The tolls could still rise,” he added. Gen. Daud Amin, the Kabul police chief, said the suicide bomber targeted civilians who were registering for national identification cards. The large explosion echoed across the city, shattering windows miles away from the attack site and damaging several nearby vehicles. Police blocked all roads to the blast site, with only ambulances allowed in. Local TV stations broadcast live footage of hundreds of distraught locals gathered at nearby hospitals seeking word about loved ones. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency, saying it had targeted Shiite “apostates.” The attack comes almost a month after another deadly attack by IS in which a suicide bomber carried out an attack near a Shiite shrine in Kabul that targeted attendees celebrating the Persian new year. That attack killed 31 people and wounded 65 others. A statement issued by the president’s office condemned Sunday’s attack and quoted President Ashraf Ghani as saying such “terrorist attacks” won’t prevent people from participating in upcoming parliamentary elections. Afghanistan will hold parliamentary elections in October, and voter registration started a week ago. Last week, three police officers guarding voter registration centers in two Afghan provinces were killed by militants, authorities said. Afghan security forces have struggled to prevent attacks by the local Islamic State affiliate as well as the more firmly established Taliban since the U.S. and NATO concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014. Both groups regularly carry out attacks, with the Taliban usually targeting the government and security forces, and IS targeting the country’s Shiite minority. Both groups want to establish a strict form of Islamic rule in Afghanistan and are opposed to democratic elections. Elsewhere in Afghanistan, at least five people were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in the northern Baghlan province. Zabihullah Shuja, spokesman for the provincial police chief, said four other people were wounded in Sunday’s blast in Puli Khomri, the province’s capital. The Taliban routinely target security forces and government officials with roadside bombs, which of[...]


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4 dead in Tennessee Waffle House shooting; suspect soughtBullet holes are seen at a Waffle House after a fatal shooting in the Antioch neighborhood of Nashville, Sunday.This photo provided by Metro Nashville Police Department shows Travis Reinking, who police are searching for in connection with a fatal shooting at a Waffle House restaurant in the Antioch neighborhood of Nashville early Sunday, April 22, 2018. (Metro Nashville Police Department via AP)

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:32:00 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An almost naked gunman wearing only a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville early Sunday, shooting four people to death before a customer rushed him and wrestled the weapon away. Authorities were searching for the 29-year-old suspect, Travis Reinking, who they said drove to the busy restaurant and killed two people in the parking lot before entering and continuing to fire. When his AR-15 rifle either jammed or the clip was empty, the customer disarmed him in a scuffle. Four people also were wounded before the gunman fled, throwing off his jacket. Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said there was no clear motive, although Reinking may have “mental issues.” He still may be armed, Anderson told a mid-afternoon news conference, because he was known to have owned a handgun that authorities have not recovered. U.S. Secret Service agents arrested Reinking in July for being in a restricted area near the White House, officials said. Special Agent Todd Hudson said Reinking was detained after refusing to leave the restricted area, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump. State police in Illinois, where Reinking lived until last fall, subsequently revoked his state firearms card at the request of the FBI, and four guns were then taken from him, including the AR-15 used in Sunday’s shooting as well as a handgun, authorities said. Sheriff Robert Huston in Tazewell County said deputies allowed Reinking’s father to take possession of the guns on the promise that he would “keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis.” Huston added that, based on past deputies’ encounters with Reinking, “there’s certainly evidence that there’s some sort of mental health issues involved.” While Huston said it was unclear how Reinking reclaimed the guns, Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said that his father “has now acknowledged giving them back to his son.” Meanwhile, authorities hailed the customer who intervened to stop a further bloodbath, 29-year-old James Shaw Jr., as a hero – although the father of a 4-year-old girl demurred and said he was just trying to survive. One hand bandaged, Shaw told reporters he first thought the gunshots fired about 3:25 a.m. were plates falling from a dishwashing station. When he realized what was happening, he took cover behind a door as shots shattered windows. The gun either jammed or needed a new clip, and that’s when Shaw said he pounced after making up his mind that “he was going to have to work to kill me.” Shaw said he was not a religious man, but “for a tenth of a second, something was with me to run through that door and get the gun from him.” They cursed at ea[...]


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Crystal Lake police initiative looks to combat distracted driving

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:31:00 GMT

Each day, 10 people are killed in distracted driving crashes, contributing to the 37,000 people killed in crashes on U.S. roadways during 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To help bring attention to the dangers associated with distracted driving, the Crystal Lake Police Department will participate in Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week and conduct an educational and enforcement campaign related to Illinois’ laws.

The second annual Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week, from Monday through Friday, is a coordinated effort between the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, AAA, Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois High School and College Driver Education Association and about 300 local law enforcement agencies to educate motorists about the dangers of driving while distracted and enforcing the laws on Illinois’ roads.

Last year’s efforts resulted in more than 18,000 warnings and citations for distracted driving offenses.

Contrary to what some drivers think, hands-free, hand-held and in-vehicle technologies are not free of distractions, even if a driver’s eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel.

The latest AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that drivers who text when behind the wheel more than double their odds of being involved in a crash.

Drivers who use in-vehicle technologies such as voice-based and touch-screen features can be distracted for more than 40 seconds when completing tasks such as programming navigation or sending a text message. Removing eyes from the road for two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.

For information on Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week, visit www.iddaw.org.


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Hampshire woman receives conditional discharge in fourth DUITammy L. Norlander, 49, of the 9N400 block of Burlington Road, Hampshire

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:31:00 GMT

SYCAMORE – A Hampshire woman arrested in connection with driving drunk in DeKalb will not be imprisoned after pleading guilty to her fourth driving under the influence conviction.

Tammy L. Norlander, 49, of the 9N400 block of Burlington Road, Hampshire, was ordered Thursday to attend alcohol counseling as part of a two-year sentence with conditional discharge. She also was ordered to pay more than $1,300 in court costs, and for DUI tech costs, court records show.

Records show that Norlander no longer is required to wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet, which she has worn since her bond was set at $50,000 after she was arrested May 27 on suspicion of DUI at Barber Greene and Airport roads. Police said in court records that they could smell alcohol on her when they pulled her over, and that she failed field sobriety tests.

Judge Philip Montgomery, who set the initial bond May 28 before DeKalb County Chief Judge Robbin Stuckert lowered it to $15,000 May 30, agreed to the sentence Thursday. Norlander had posted $1,500 bail to be released May 31, records show.

According to records, Norlander was convicted of DUI twice in 2008 in Kane County and again in 2017 in Hoffman Estates. She was represented by West Dundee-based lawyer Mark Uteg, and Assistant State's Attorney Jim Walsh prosecuted the case.

In compliance with the court order, Norlander is due in court April 18, 2019, to make sure she is attending classes. Her conditional discharge is set to expire April 23, 2020.

Tammy L. Norlander, 49, of the 9N400 block of Burlington Road, Hampshire


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McHenry County groups to mark Year of the Bird with activities next weekendDozens of pelicans search for their next meal at Griswold Lake on Friday, April 13, 2018 in Holiday Hills.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:30:00 GMT

This is the Year of the Bird, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, McHenry County Conservation District, Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are bringing a worldwide celebration of birds to the Illinois-Wisconsin state line region. Upcoming events include:

• 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Glacial Park’s Lost Valley Visitor Center on Route 31 and Harts Road, Ringwood – Bird banding by USFWS biologists from 8 to 10:30 a.m., and activities all morning.

• 8 to 10:30 a.m. Sunday – USFWS Bird banding demonstrations at Ducks Unlimited’s Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge site, N541 County Road H, Genoa City, Wisconsin.

• Noon to 4 p.m. at Volo Bog State Natural Area, 28478 W. Brandenburg Road, Ingleside.

On both mornings, wildlife biologists will be capturing and banding birds’ legs before releasing them back into the wild. As the specialists weigh and check the health of each bird, participants will see these creatures up close.

This year, backpacks for birding will be given out for free in honor of young birder Zachary Brokaw, who died in a car crash in 2015. The first 75 children ages 6 to 14 who complete 14 activities at Glacial Park or Volo Bog State Natural Area will receive a bag.

Dozens of pelicans search for their next meal at Griswold Lake on Friday, April 13, 2018 in Holiday Hills.


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Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to study Algonquin, Cary quarry areas

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:30:00 GMT

Algonquin and Cary are teaming up for a new study that would help create plans for quarry sites in the villages.

The municipalities received a grant from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which will provide staffing to create a plan for the site between Algonquin’s and Cary’s downtown areas bounded by the Fox River to the east and Route 31 to the west, according to Algonquin village documents.

The agency’s services are estimated to cost $100,000, and each village is being asked to pitch in $10,000.

The plan will identify desired land use and development concepts, such as creating strong bicycle and pedestrian connections to link the two village’s business districts.

The study will build off recent planning efforts for downtown Algonquin and Cary’s recently adopted comprehensive plan, and it will focus on the quarry sites along the Route 31 corridor from Algonquin Road to Hoffman Park in Cary.

The plans could include utility coordination and economic development partnerships, such as a tax-sharing agreement, according to documents.

Mining areas include:

• North of Klasen Road – Mining ceased in December, and the quarry property will be transitioned to the village of Cary on June 1. Planning will focus on public recreation improvements.

• South of Klasen Road – The area still is actively mined, and its estimated mining operations will stop in the foreseeable future.

• West of Route 31 – The area will continue as a processing area for materials mined east of Route 31. It will not be available for development until mining south of Klasen Road is complete.

A CMAP representative will provide an overview of the project at the Algonquin Village Board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Village Hall, 2200 Harnish Drive.


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Coroner IDs man who died in Harvard house fireA man boards up the second-story window of a home in the 400 block of East Blackman Street in Harvard. A 63-year-old man died about 3 a.m. Thursday in a house fire at the residence.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:30:00 GMT

The McHenry County coroner has identified a man who died last week in a Harvard house fire.

Randall A. Hanson, 63, died Thursday. A preliminary autopsy shows that the man suffered from thermal and inhalation injuries, the coroner said.

Hanson was pronounced dead at the scene about 4 a.m.

Harvard police and fire officials responded about 3:15 a.m. to the 400 block of East Blackman Street for a reported fire that had begun in the basement of the home, officials said.

A 10-year-old boy, 14-year-old girl and 55-year-old woman escaped the fire, police said.

The fire caused about $75,000 in damage and appears to have been an accident because of careless smoking, police said.

The incident remains under investigation.

A man boards up the second-story window of a home in the 400 block of East Blackman Street in Harvard. A 63-year-old man died about 3 a.m. Thursday in a house fire at the residence.


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Police investigate Harvard woman's 'suspicious' death

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:29:00 GMT

The Harvard Police Department and the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office are investigating a Harvard woman’s “suspicious” death.

Marlene Lynch, 54, of Harvard was pronounced dead at 11:40 p.m. Friday at a hospital in Rockford, Winnebago County authorities said.

Harvard police responded Thursday to the 300 block of South Division Street in Harvard and found Lynch unresponsive but breathing. She had facial injuries, according to a news release from the Harvard Police Department.

Lynch was taken to Mercyhealth Hospital and Medical Center – Harvard and transferred to Rockford, where she later died. Police are investigating the death, authorities said.

An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, and toxicology reports will be available in about two weeks, authorities said.


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McHenry County Human Race draws superheroes of all agesRunners take off from the starting line as an air horn sounds the start of the eighth annual McHenry County Human Race on Sunday at McHenry County College. The 5K walk/run allows participants to choose the organization they wish to raise money for.Amanda Sola of Crystal Lake visits with friends before the eighth annual McHenry County Human Race.Ariel Weinstein, a volunteer at Mane in Heaven, handles Winnie, a miniature therapy horse, near the finish line of the McHenry County Human Race.Melissa Downey of Lake in the Hills stretches before the start of the eighth annual McHenry County Human Race on Sunday at McHenry County College.Carole Peters of the United Way of Greater McHenry County smiles at the starting line during the McHenry County Human Race.Barbara Schneider and Larry Dagley of Woodstock laugh while getting ready for the eighth annual McHenry County Human Race on Sunday at McHenry County College.Charlotte Steimke, 4, of Woodstock watches a runner warming up before the start of the eighth annual McHenry County Human Race.Denise Smith of Smith Physical Therapy and Running of Crystal Lake leads participants in warmup exercises before the start of the race Sunday.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:26:00 GMT

Residents of all ages participated in the McHenry County Human Race on Sunday, a 5K run/walk benefiting nonprofits across the county.

Runners take off from the starting line as an air horn sounds the start of the eighth annual McHenry County Human Race on Sunday at McHenry County College. The 5K walk/run allows participants to choose the organization they wish to raise money for.Amanda Sola of Crystal Lake visits with friends before the eighth annual McHenry County Human Race.Ariel Weinstein, a volunteer at Mane in Heaven, handles Winnie, a miniature therapy horse, near the finish line of the McHenry County Human Race.Melissa Downey of Lake in the Hills stretches before the start of the eighth annual McHenry County Human Race on Sunday at McHenry County College.Carole Peters of the United Way of Greater McHenry County smiles at the starting line during the McHenry County Human Race.Barbara Schneider and Larry Dagley of Woodstock laugh while getting ready for the eighth annual McHenry County Human Race on Sunday at McHenry County College.Charlotte Steimke, 4, of Woodstock watches a runner warming up before the start of the eighth annual McHenry County Human Race.Denise Smith of Smith Physical Therapy and Running of Crystal Lake leads participants in warmup exercises before the start of the race Sunday.


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Smoldering cigarette leads to smoke, shutdown of Corner Tap in McHenry, official says

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:25:00 GMT

Corner Tap in McHenry shut down for about 45 minutes Sunday while firefighters investigated smoke in the basement.

The smoldering likely was caused by a cigarette butt that had rolled through a crack in the foundation, McHenry Township Fire Battalion Chief David Harwood said.

“There were no flames, but it took us a while to figure out where it was,” he said.

The aging building at 3901 Main St. had cracks where the sidewalk met the foundation, which is where the lit cigarette had rolled, Harwood said. The department arrived about 6:30 p.m., and the business was closed during the investigation to ventilate the building.

Corner Tap did not suffer significant damage during the incident.

Business officials filled the foundation cracks with concrete to avoid future incidents, Harwood said.


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Looming taxes on U.S. exports could cost Illinois millions, McHenry County experts sayDairy farmer Katie Vanderstappen of Vanderstappen Farms in Hebron holds up a cow figurine to demonstrate the milking process during an agricultural expo for area third- and fourth-graders April 12 at the McHenry County Fairgrounds in Woodstock.Students learn about sheep and other livestock during an agricultural expo for third- and fourth-graders April 12 at the McHenry County Fairgrounds in Woodstock.Corn and soybean farmer Ella Martin of Marengo discusses the many uses of corn during an agricultural expo for third- and fourth-graders April 12 at the McHenry County Fairgrounds in Woodstock.Corn and soybean farmer Ella Martin of Marengo holds up a box of corn starch for students to see as she discusses the uses of corn during an expo April 12 at the McHenry County Fairgrounds in Woodstock.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:24:00 GMT

President Donald Trump recently implemented about $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese products, including a 25 percent tax on steel imports and a 10 percent tax on aluminum imports. This has resulted in retaliatory tariffs by China on goods coming from the U.S., including pork and aluminum scrap. That retaliation has the potential to devastate the local agriculture industry, experts said. The proposal could lay waste to countless local farms that rely on exporting their products to make a living, said McHenry County Board member Michele Aavang, who is a local farmer. “Worst-case scenario, if the tariffs actually did come into play, there would be great concern from the farmers because like any business, we need some sense of stability to allow us to plan for the future and make good decisions,” Aavang said. China is planning to implement tariffs on 128 goods coming from the U.S., according to recent national media reports and Chinese officials. Illinois exports $64 million worth of corn, and at their highest, pork exports to China were about $54 million worth. “This trade war is counterproductive and will cost farmers and rural economies in the long run,” Illinois Farm Bureau president Richard Guebert Jr. said in an official statement. “At [April 4th’s] opening bell, Illinois soybean farmers lost $275 million in crop value. Illinois pork producers stand to lose $105 million in market value from tariffs on pork products announced [April 2].” If China follows through with the proposed tariffs, the Illinois Farm Bureau estimates pork producers stand to lose an estimated $20 a head, or $105 million. “We urge President Trump to work on expanding trade rather than imposing tariffs that result in retaliation against Illinois farm families,” Guebert said. Nationally, $663 million worth of pork muscle cuts and pork variety meats were exported last year to China. Two-thirds of those exports were variety meats, McHenry County Farm Bureau manager Dan Volkers said. A mere push for consumers to buy locally sourced food wouldn’t be enough to offset the tariffs’ potential damage, and switching to the cultivation of “specialty crops,” such as hops and organic goods, tend only to bring in money until the trend’s popularity dies down, said Aavang, who helps run Willow Lea Stock Farm in Woodstock. Other goods that could be subjected to tariffs include soybeans, corn and beef. Because the U.S. is trailing Brazil in soybean exports, China could turn to other avenues[...]


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Church elders renew probe of founder's alleged misconduct

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 18:05:00 GMT

SOUTH BARRINGTON – Leaders of a Chicago-area evangelical church that became one of the largest in the nation say they will renew their examination of the church's former pastor.

The Rev. Bill Hybels retired from Willow Creek Community Church earlier this month after allegations he touched and made lewd comments to female congregants. The elders say they are acting after new accusations against Hybels surfaced.

The new allegations were published Saturday in Christianity Today. Hybels couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The elders and an outside investigator cleared Hybels of any wrongdoing in a previous inquiry.

In a letter posted Saturday on Willow Creek's website, the elders said in hindsight, aspects of their past work could have been handled differently. The elders said their work to resolve any shadow of doubt in the trustworthiness of Willow Creek Community Church and its elders isn't done.




4 dead in Waffle House shooting in Tennessee; suspect soughtBullet holes are seen at a Waffle House after a fatal shooting in the Antioch neighborhood of Nashville, Sunday.

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 18:00:00 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A man wearing nothing but a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Tennessee and shot four people to death before dawn Sunday, according to police, who credited a customer with saving lives by wresting the gunman's weapon away. The gunman shot people in the parking lot before entering the restaurant, where he continued firing until a customer snatched the rifle, Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said. Four people were injured. The police department tweeted that authorities are searching for 29-year-old Travis Reinking. Police named him as a person of interest because the pickup truck the gunman drove to the restaurant was registered to Reinking. Witness Chuck Cordero told The Tennessean newspaper he had stopped to get a cup of coffee and was outside the restaurant when he saw the chaos unfold around 3:25 a.m. "He did not say anything," Cordero said of the gunman, who he described as "all business." Cordero said the man who wrested the gun from the suspect saved lives. "Had that guy had a chance to reload his weapon, there was plenty more people in that restaurant," he said. Police identified the customer as 29-year-old James Shaw Jr. Shaw told the Tennessean in an interview that he was "just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it." The newspaper said Shaw was grazed by a bullet, treated and released. "When I was in the ambulance to hospital I kept thinking that I'm going to wake up and it's not going to be real," Shaw said. "It is something out a movie. I'm OK though, but I hate that it happened." Police spokesman Aaron said three people died at the restaurant and one person died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where two others were being treated for gunshot wounds. Medical Center spokeswoman Jennifer Wetzel said one was in critical condition and the other was in critical but stable condition. TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center spokeswoman Katie Radel in Nashville said two people were treated for minor injuries and released. Aaron said the gunman arrived at the restaurant, sat in the parking lot for four minutes before shooting two people outside, then entering. Inside, Shaw grabbed the rifle from the suspect and tossed it over a counter, Aaron said. After that, the gunman fled. "No doubt he saved many lives," Aaron said of the customer, who he described[...]


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http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2018/04/22/b0da52acd5374c28a2495291b0819387/8ef996ea-c7b4-4aab-9762-9db7aa818a79/image-pv_web.jpg




Inspectors collect samples from Syria site

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 06:28:00 GMT

BEIRUT – Chemical weapons inspectors collected samples from Syria’s Douma on Saturday, two weeks after a suspected gas attack there followed by retaliatory strikes by Western powers on the Syrian government’s chemical facilities.

The site visit, confirmed by the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, would allow the agency to proceed with an independent investigation to determine what chemicals, if any, were used in the April 7 attack that medical workers said killed more than 40 people.

Douma was the final target of the government’s sweeping campaign to seize back control of the eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus from rebels after seven years of revolt. Militants gave up the town days after the alleged attack.

OPCW inspectors arrived in Damascus just hours before the April 15 strikes but were delayed from visiting the site until Saturday, leading Western officials and Syrian activists to accuse Russia and the Syrian government of staging a cover-up.