Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:10:00 GMTNEW YORK – A startling new report asserts that the first known Americans arrived much, much earlier than scientists thought — more than 100,000 years ago __ and maybe they were Neanderthals. If true, the finding would far surpass the widely accepted date of about 15,000 years ago. Researchers say a site in Southern California shows evidence of humanlike behavior from about 130,000 years ago, when bones and teeth of an elephantlike mastodon were evidently smashed with rocks. The earlier date means the bone-smashers were not necessarily members of our own species, Homo sapiens. The researchers speculate that these early Californians could have instead been species known only from fossils in Europe, Africa and Asia: Neanderthals, a little-known group called Denisovans, or another human forerunner named Homo erectus. "The very honest answer is, we don't know," said Steven Holen, lead author of the paper and director of the nonprofit Center for American Paleolithic Research in Hot Springs, South Dakota. No remains of any individuals were found. Whoever they were, they could have arrived by land or sea. They might have come from Asia via the Beringea land bridge that used to connect Siberia to Alaska, or maybe come across by watercraft along the Beringea coast or across open water to North America, before turning southward to California, Holen said in a telephone interview. Holen and others present their evidence in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature . Not surprisingly, the report was met by skepticism from other experts who don't think there is enough proof. The research dates back to the winter of 1992-3. The site was unearthed during a routine dig by researchers during a freeway expansion project in San Diego. Analysis of the find was delayed to assemble the right expertise, said Tom Demere, curator of paleontology at the San Diego Natural History Museum, another author of the paper. The Nature analysis focuses on remains from a single mastodon, and five stones found nearby. The mastodon's bones and teeth were evidently placed on two stones used as anvils and smashed with three stone hammers, to get at nutritious marrow and create raw material for tools. Patterns of damage on the limb bones looked like what happened in experiments when elephant bones were smashed with rocks. And the bones and stones were found in two areas, each roughly centered on what's thought to be an anvil. The stones measured about 8 inches (20 centimeters) to 12 inches (30 centimeters) long and weighed up to 32 pounds (14.5 kilograms). They weren't hand-crafted tools, Demere said. The users evidently found them and brought them to the site. The excavation also found a mastodon tusk in a vertical position, extending down into older layers, which may indicate it had been jammed into the ground as a marker or to create a platform, Demere said. The fate of the visitors is not clear. Maybe they died out without leaving any descendants, he said. Experts not connected with the study provided a range of reactions. "If the results stand up to further scrutiny, this does indeed change everything we thought we knew," said Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London. Neanderthals and Denisovans are the most likely identities of the visitors, he said. But "many of us will want to see supporting evidence of this ancient occupation from other sites, before we abandon the conventional model of a first arrival by modern humans within the last 15,000 years," he wrote in an email. Erella Hovers of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University in Tempe, who wrote a c[...]
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:59:00 GMTMcHENRY — Police arrested a local man Tuesday after finding equipment for making methamphetamine and methamphetamine manufacturing waste at a home in residential neighborhood near McHenry.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:25:00 GMTCRYSTAL LAKE – Beekeeping has been creating quite the buzz in McHenry County over the years as honeybee populations in Illinois continue to struggle. Larry Krengel, a beekeeping instructor at McHenry County College, has been teaching people the ins and outs of keeping colonies for about two decades and said he has seen a rapid increase in interest in the hobby. The college holds seminars in the spring to prepare for bee season, which typically begins at the end of March. This year, the course had so much interest that it was broken up into two sessions. “I think many people feel they can be of a help because of the problem the honeybees are having,” he said. “I also think they find a fascination with it. The world of the honeybee is quite intriguing.” About $15 billion worth of U.S. crops are pollinated by the honeybee, but populations are declining because of a variety of factors, including vicious parasites and what has been known as colony collapse disorder – where mature worker bees leave the hive, and the queen and remaining nurse and immature bees don’t survive, Krengel said. The No. 1 challenge local beekeepers face now is a parasite called the varroa mite, which made its first appearance in the U.S. in the late 1980s. “It now exists in every state,” Krengel said. “There is no way to get rid of it. How to manage it is the biggest challenge.” It’s not just the honeybee that is in danger. The rusty patched bumblebee is an endangered species and recently has caused headaches in Algonquin. Its potential presence has halted work on the already-controversial Longmeadow Parkway project near Randall Road. The bee is the first bumblebee to officially be named endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The issue is national. At the beginning of 2016, the number of honeybee colonies was down 8 percent from 2015, with varroa mites being the top cause for loss, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. General Mills recently removed its iconic mascot from its Honey Nut Cheerios boxes in an effort to raise awareness of the issue. But backyard beekeepers are making a difference, Krengel said. “My philosophy is that it very well could be the small-scale beekeeper that saves the day,” he said. “I think having many bees in many places is how we will save the bee.” In McHenry County, there are 113 registered beekeepers and a total of 1,305 active colonies, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Jerry Gudauskas of McHenry got started because he noticed his own garden wasn’t being properly pollinated. He now is studying at the University of Florida for a master’s in beekeeping, belongs to many beekeeping organizations around Illinois and Florida, takes care of 15 hives and raises queen bees. “It’s an amazingly complicated little insect,” he said. “I never realized how complicated it was until I got into it.” Gudauskas said that he keeps bees in part because the sustainability aspect is important. “We all need to be cognizant of who we are, what we are and what we are eating,” he said. “Our food sources are really hurting. … If you think about what you eat, a third of that has to be pollinated by something. If we didn’t have bees, we wouldn’t have almonds. We wouldn’t have coffee. We wouldn’t have pumpkins. … We can’t survive on a mono diet. We need variation, and that is what pollination does.” Daryl Quitalig for Shaw Media Instructor Larry Krengel sprays a foundation with a sugar water solution in preparation to install a col[...]
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:18:00 GMTCheck out this $525,000 Marengo home for sale, listed on Zillow
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:41:00 GMTWASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is proposing "the biggest tax cut" ever even as the government struggles with mounting debt, in an effort to fulfill promises of bringing jobs and prosperity to the middle class. White House officials on Wednesday were to release broad outlines of a tax overhaul that would provide massive tax cuts to businesses big and small. The top tax rate for individuals would drop by a few percentage points, from 39.6 percent to the "mid-30s," according to an official with knowledge of the plan. Small business owners would see their top tax rate go from 39.6 percent to 15 percent, said the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the proposal before the White House announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in a Wednesday morning speech, said the proposed overhaul would amount to "the biggest tax cut" and the "largest tax reform" in U.S. history. White House officials already have said the top corporate tax rate would be reduced from 35 percent to 15 percent. The plan will also include child-care benefits, a cause promoted by Trump's daughter Ivanka. Trump sent his team to Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening to discuss his plan with Republican leaders. "They went into some suggestions that are mere suggestions and we'll go from there," said GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The White House's presentation will be "pretty broad in the principles," said Marc Short, Trump's director of legislative affairs. In the coming weeks, Trump will solicit more ideas on how to improve it, Short said. The specifics should start to come this summer. Short said the administration did not want to set a firm timeline, after demanding a quick House vote on a health care bill and watching it fail. But, Short added, "I don't see this sliding into 2018." Republicans who slammed the growing national debt under President Barack Obama have said they are open to Trump's tax plan, even though it could add trillions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade. Echoing the White House, Republicans argue the cuts would spur economic growth, reducing or even eliminating any drop in tax revenue. "I'm not convinced that cutting taxes is necessarily going to blow a hole in the deficit," Hatch said. "I actually believe it could stimulate the economy and get the economy moving," Hatch added. "Now, whether 15 percent is the right figure or not, that's a matter to be determined." The argument that tax cuts pay for themselves has been debunked by economists from across the political spectrum. On Tuesday, the official scorekeeper for Congress dealt the argument — and Trump's plan — another blow. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation said a big cut in corporate taxes, even if temporary, would add to long-term budget deficits. This is a problem for Republicans because it means they would need Democratic support in the Senate to pass a tax overhaul that significantly cuts corporate taxes. Republicans have been working under a budget maneuver that would allow them to pass a tax bill without Democratic support in the Senate, but only if it didn't add to long-term deficits. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate was sticking to that strategy. "Regretfully we don't expect to have any Democratic involvement in" a tax overhaul, McConnell said. "So we'll have to reach an agreement among [...]
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:44:00 GMTSPRINGFIELD – The Democratic-controlled Illinois House approved legislation Tuesday that would allow the state to cover abortions for state employees and Medicaid recipients, voting just hours after several hundred people from across the state flocked to the Capitol to lobby their lawmakers to support it. The 62-55 party-line vote coincided with a rally by women’s groups outside the Capitol that focused on a “progressive” legislative agenda, headed by the abortion measure. Springing from the inauguration of Republican President Donald Trump in January, the issue has gained enough steam this spring to force GOP Bruce Rauner to walk back his former support for expanding publicly funded abortions. Despite the familiarity of the arguments from both sides, the floor debate lasted two hours and was fueled by the morning rally, called the Illinois Women March, which was patterned after similar marches worldwide Jan. 21. “Women should have access to safe, legal and accessible abortion no matter what their insurance is,” Chicago Democratic Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, the proposal’s sponsor, said in closing the floor debate. Feigenholtz and other Democratic proponents argued the measure is a matter of fairness, ending the “two-tiered” system that denies low-income women and state employees the same access to abortion coverage that women insured privately or by some units of local government receive and protecting their right to make reproductive health decisions. They said the proposal would also safeguard abortion access in Illinois by striking language in current law expressing the state’s intent to criminalize the procedure if the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized it is ever overturned. But Republicans claimed the Legislature lacks necessary public support to use taxpayer dollars in funding the controversial procedure, particularly amid the state’s two-year-long budget crisis. “Where should this money come from?” asked Republican Rep. Peter Breen of Lombard, who said Medicaid-funded abortions do not qualify for a federal match and would cost Illinois an extra $60 million a year. “Should it come from cancer screenings? Legitimate medical expenses like heart medicine or insulin?” Breen also called striking the so-called “trigger language” in existing law – which advocates say would criminalize abortion in Illinois if Roe v. Wade is overturned – a “smokescreen” to cover the bill’s funding expansion. He cited a 1989 analysis from the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Research Unit that found Illinois would need to reinstate criminal penalties for abortion before that language could have any practical application. During the debate, Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie of Chicago read from a statement she said Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner made during his 2014 run for governor in support of ensuring women can access abortion services regardless of income level. Rauner said last week he opposes expanding publicly funded abortions, although he supports Feigenholtz in her effort to keep abortion legal in Illinois if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The issue has become a political flashpoint in the 2018 gubernatorial race, in which Rauner already faces six Democratic opponents, three of whom joined Tuesday’s rally in support of the Women March’s agenda. That agenda covers a multitude of issues advocates say would improve women’s lives including protecting immigrant rights, increasing the minimum wage and ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. [...]
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:43:00 GMTDETROIT – A Chicago Palestinian activist with a decades-old record of bombings in Israel pleaded guilty Tuesday to concealing those convictions when she applied for U.S. citizenship.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:43:00 GMTSEOUL, South Korea – In a defiant bit of timing, South Korea announced Wednesday that key parts of a contentious U.S. missile defense system had been installed a day after rival North Korea showed off its military power. The South's trumpeting of progress on setting up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, comes as high-powered U.S. military assets converge on the Korean Peninsula and as a combative North Korea signals possible nuclear and missile testing. North Korea conducted live-fire artillery drills on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of the founding of its million-person strong Korean People's Army. On the same day, a U.S. guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea, and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is headed toward the peninsula for a joint exercise with South Korea. The moves to set up THAAD within this year have angered not only North Korea, but also China, the country that the Trump administration hopes to work with to rid the North of nuclear weapons. China, which has grown increasingly frustrated with its ally Pyongyang, and Russia see the system's powerful radars as a security threat. South Korea said in a statement Wednesday that unspecified parts of THAAD were installed. The statement said that Seoul and Washington have been pushing to get THAAD quickly working to cope with North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile threats. According to Yonhap news agency, the parts include two or three launchers, intercept missiles and at least one radar. About 8,000 police officers were mobilized and the main road leading up to the site in the southeast was blocked earlier Wednesday, Yonhap reported. About 200 residents and protesters rallied in front of a local community center, some hurling plastic water bottles. On Tuesday, North Korea conducted live-fire drills near the east coast city of Wonsan that involved 300 to 400 artillery pieces, Yonhap reported. An official from Seoul's Defense Ministry couldn't confirm those specific details. North Korea's official media said early Wednesday that leader Kim Jong Un personally observed the exercises. The drills reportedly included submarine torpedo attacks on mock enemy warships "while fighters and bombers made zero feet flight above the sea to drop bombs on the targets," the Korean Central News Agency said. President Donald Trump has sent more U.S. military assets to the region in a show of force while leaning on China to exert economic pressure on its wayward ally. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who spoke to Trump on Monday, is urging restraint from both Pyongyang and Washington. In Washington, top Trump administration officials are scheduled to brief the entire U.S. Senate on Wednesday. A rapid tempo of North Korean weapons testing in the past year has pushed Kim Jong Un's authoritarian nation closer to developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the U.S. mainland. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham voiced confidence that Trump won't allow North Korea to reach that point. Graham, a defense hawk who dined with Trump on Monday night, said the North should not underestimate the president's resolve. The USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine, arrived Tuesday at the South Korean port of Busan for what was described as a routine visit to rest crew and load supplies. The U.S. 7th Fleet said two American destroyers were conducting simultaneous maritime exercises with naval ships from South Korea and Japan. North Korea routinely accuses the United States of readying for an invasion, and threatens pre-emptive strikes to stop it. An unnam[...]
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:43:00 GMTCOLUMBIA, Tenn. – A 15-year-old Tennessee girl who authorities said was kidnapped by her teacher had endured months of abuse at the hands of her mother, according to court documents, making her particularly vulnerable to an adult predator. The mother is scheduled to appear in court next month and has pleaded not guilty to five counts of abuse and neglect involving several of her children. The girl’s father filed for divorce Monday, citing the alleged abuse. His daughter was found safe with her teacher last week at a cabin in a remote part of Northern California. The girl’s father has said the 50-year-old teacher brainwashed his daughter. In divorce documents, he said the teacher used his position of authority to “prey upon her, groom her, and ultimately entice her into running away with him.” The Associated Press is not naming the student or any family members because the teen is an alleged victim of a sex crime. The teacher, Tad Cummins, faces federal charges of bringing a minor across state lines for sex and state charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. Cummins’ attorney has said the girl went with her teacher willingly, and was not forced, threatened or coerced. School records showed the girl often relied on Cummins “like a friend and a counselor” when she became upset or anxious at school. A history of abuse at home can make children particularly susceptible to manipulation disguised as help, said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. “They’re very vulnerable to the grooming because this is an adult who seems to care about them and is interested in them, and that’s probably something they’re not getting elsewhere,” he said. Authorities said the mother physically abused several of her children for about a year, beginning in November 2014. The teen’s father was living at home during that time, but the couple separated in November 2015 and the father took sole custody of the children, according to the divorce filing. The parents have been married for 30 years and have 10 children together, although only four of them are still minors. The mother is accused of hitting her children until they bled, knocking a daughter unconscious with a wooden board and throwing a chair at another daughter, bruising her leg, court documents show. The mother also smacked a child in the head for injecting herself with her brother’s EpiPen. The mother said she can’t comment about the case. Her attorney has asked for more detail on the allegations and access to the children’s social media accounts. The mother has been ordered to stay away from the children, court records said. The mother is alleged to have banged the 15-year-old’s head on a washer, and at another point, she threw the girl down basement steps and locked her inside, the documents said. The children wrote letters to the Department of Children’s Services about the abuse before the mother was arrested, according to one of the teen’s relatives. Department spokesman Rob Johnson said he could not comment on the case. The girl’s relative said Cummins knew the girl had been abused and took advantage of that information. “We have a 15-year-old girl with a 50-year-old man and he obviously used his power, his authority to, whether it’s groom her or convince her, to do certain things,” the girl’s sister-in-l[...]
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:43:00 GMTSAN DIEGO – One of the nation's largest school districts is defending its campaign to fight Islamophobia and promote understanding of Muslim culture against critics who said it is favoring a religion. Kevin Beiser, vice president of the San Diego Unified School District board, said Tuesday that the effort is modeled on a plan he advanced several years ago to protect LGBT students. He said bullying of Muslim students is pervasive and vastly underreported. "Muslim students are constantly being harassed, spit on, verbally abused, pushed, shoved, their hijabs are being pulled," he said, calling it a "serious problem probably in every public school in the country." Critics planned a protest at Tuesday's school board meeting but no one in the audience rose to speak for or against the effort and there were no visible signs of opposition. The multiyear plan includes ensuring staff calendars include Muslim holidays, reviewing library materials on Muslim culture, providing resources to teachers and engaging in partnerships with the Council on American Islamic Relations. The district also plans to consider high school clubs that promote American Muslim culture, create "safe spaces" for students and train staff about Muslim culture. The district is reviewing internal staff calendars to make sure Muslim holidays are recognized. A letter outlining plans will be sent to staff and parents of its 132,000 students. It's expected to go out before Ramadan begins in late May. The plan drew little attention when the board approved it, 4-0, April 4, with one member absent. Public comments from staff and community members were uniformly positive. "We believe this is a great first step in the direction of protecting Muslim students from the bullying that is a direct result of the growing Islamophobia in our state and nation," Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' San Diego chapter, said after the vote. "Other school districts should follow this lead, and we will be happy to work with them to provide resources and trainings." Pushback gradually spread on the social media and the internet, with written attacks on Islam and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. A Sunday article on the conservative website Breitbart News drew hundreds of reader comments. The headline of a story on the Angry Patriot website that had 35,000 Facebook 'likes' read, "Islamic Takeover CONFIRMED - American School Surrenders to SHARIA LAW." Mary Baker, founder of Citizens for Quality Education-San Diego, urged the district to retract the policy. Her organization planned a protest at Tuesday's school board meeting. "Students may be taught about religion in its historical context, but public schools may not teach religion and its tenets," she said. "We care about all students and this new 'anti-bullying' policy specifically crafted to protect Muslim students is discriminatory and may adversely affect the student body." The school district said on its website that the plan addresses "some of the specific challenges faced by the Muslim student community," which expressed concern about student safety last summer. "We strongly believe students cannot learn if they are afraid, and so this initiative to combat Islamophobia is focused on eliminating the fear faced by children," it says. The district said it is not endorsing Islam, favoring a religion or imposing Sharia law. Beiser said the school [...]
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:43:00 GMTPEORIA – Caterpillar's first-quarter adjusted profit handily topped expectations on Wall Street, and revenue climbed thanks to improved sales across its business segments. The construction equipment company also boosted its full-year outlook thanks to a stronger-than-expected start to the year.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:42:00 GMTWASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared to violate federal law when he failed to seek permission or inform the U.S. government about accepting tens of thousands of dollars from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015, leaders of a House oversight committee said Tuesday. The congressmen also raised new questions about fees Flynn received as part of $530,000 in consulting work his company performed for a businessman tied to Turkey’s government. The bipartisan accusations that Flynn may have broken the law come as his foreign contacts are being examined by other congressional committees as part of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Congress returned earlier this week from its spring recess, and Tuesday’s announcements reflected renewed interest on Capitol Hill. Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said they saw no evidence that Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, properly disclosed foreign payments he received to military officials or on his security clearance paperwork. Flynn, who headed the military’s top intelligence agency, was Trump’s national security adviser until he was fired in February. Among the payments in question was more than $33,000 that Flynn received in 2015 from the Russia Today television network, which has been described by U.S. intelligence officials as a propaganda front for Russia’s government. “That money needs to be recovered,” said Chaffetz, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Chaffetz said Flynn was obligated as a retired Army officer to request permission from both the Defense and State departments about prospective foreign government payments before he received them. “There was nothing in the data to show that Gen. Flynn complied with the law,” Chaffetz said. Cummings said Flynn’s failure to formally report the Russian payments on his security clearance paperwork amounted to concealment of the money, which could be prosecuted as a felony. Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, said Flynn reported his plans to travel to Russia to his former agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and he briefed officials there after he returned. Kelner declined to answer questions about whether Flynn properly disclosed the payments. The congressmen spoke after reviewing classified documents regarding Flynn that were provided by the Defense Intelligence Agency. They were also briefed by agency officials. The congressmen declined to describe in detail the materials they reviewed. But Cummings said the documents were “extremely troubling” and he urged the administration to declassify them. Chaffetz and Cummings said they planned to write to the comptroller of the Army and the Defense Department’s inspector general for a final determination as to whether Flynn broke the law and whether the government needs to pursue criminal charges and seek to recover the payments Flynn received. Cummings also criticized the White House for refusing to turn over documents the committee requested about Flynn’s foreign contacts during his three-week stint as national security adviser. In response to a letter to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, an administration official told the committee that documents relating to those contacts likely contained classified and other sensitive [...]
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:19:00 GMTMcHENRY – Illinois American Civil Liberties Union Communications Director Edwin Yonhka will speak and lead a discussion Wednesday at a McHenry church.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:19:00 GMTRICHMOND – Dan Oest, superintendent of Richmond-Burton School District 157 and Nippersink School District 2, was named superintendent of distinction in the Kishwaukee region of the Illinois Association of School Administrators.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:18:00 GMTDECATUR – When a family is having financial problems and cutting expenses, one of the first things to go is birthday parties. The Lutheran School Association decided to help out Northeast Community Fund by collecting items for “birthday bags.” “My goal was 200,” said high school Principal Allison Nolen, standing in a storeroom at the school with four long tables groaning under the number of colorful gift bags, each containing cake mix, candles, paper plates, napkins and a present. “I knew that we would get a good response. I was hopeful for 200. I did not realize it was going to be this huge and people were going to be so invested in it. They blew me away.” LSA families came through handsomely, donating enough items for 275 complete bags, plus 75 more partial bags, with enough cake mix and toys left over to create several Easter packages, as well. Nolen designated an item a day recently – one day for cake mix, one day for napkins, another for gift bags – and students who brought donations were allowed a day without wearing their school uniform. Nolen and high school junior Jared Gregory double-checked bags to make sure they all had all of the items in them, and they distributed the last-minute donations. Although the school asked families to spend about $5 a gift, some people went well over that, and bags had presents peeking over the edges that clearly cost more. One held a new baseball glove, and a couple of others had “Star Wars” toys and other items to make children very happy. “This is something that we’ve just found is a kind of nice little extra thing to do,” said Jerry Pelz, founder and executive director of Northeast Community Fund. “If their children have birthdays that week or month (that they come in), we give them one of these bags that has everything they need in it.” Pelz doesn’t remember exactly when it started, but about two years ago, some families started bringing in birthday kits to donate, and now people are doing it regularly, including kids who ask for such donations instead of birthday presents on their own birthdays. The organization still is raising money to build a new facility, and the board’s goal is to reach $2 million before breaking ground, Pelz said. The fund is at $1.1 million now. Once they have a new building, storing donations will be much easier. “We really are cramped for space,” Pelz said. “An event like this demonstrates it. We don’t have room to store that kind of stuff, and in the new place, we could easily take care of those donations. We are, in some ways, hindered by what donations we can take because of the lack of space.” In this April 3, 2017 photo, Lutheran School Association student Jared Gregory adds new donations to "birthday bags" at Lutheran School Association in Decatur, Ill. When a family is having financial problems and cutting expenses, one of the first things to go is birthday parties. The LSA decided to help out Northeast Community Fund by collecting items for "birthday bags." The bags will be given to children in need on their birthdays. (Jim Bowling/Herald & Review via AP)In this April 3, 2017 photo, Lutheran School Association Principal Allison Nolen and student Jared Gregory add the latest donations of birthday gifts and party items to those given by Lutheran School Association students for the Northeast Community Fund in Decatur, Ill. When a [...]
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:18:00 GMTNEW YORK – McDonald’s said new Big Mac sizes helped boost a key sales figure in the U.S., but it still is working on trying to attract more customers to its stores.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:17:00 GMTMcHENRY – A McHenry man has pleaded guilty to stabbing his wife to death with a screwdriver in 2015.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:17:00 GMTMcHENRY – St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will host its seventh Mobile Food Truck since 2015 in partnership with the Northern Illinois Food Bank on Saturday at the church, 3706 W. St. Paul Ave.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:17:00 GMTCRYSTAL LAKE – Renovation work is underway at the Outback Steakhouse in Crystal Lake, and the Aussie-themed chain restaurant will remain open while construction continues.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:16:00 GMTALGONQUIN – Nine Algonquin businesses were fined after selling alcohol to minors – a higher number of violations than usual, Algonquin Police Chief John Bucci said.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:16:00 GMTWOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board is taking another shot at amending its rules to allow for the use of an electronic voting system that has sat practically unused since January.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:16:00 GMTWONDER LAKE – Two men were arrested last week in connection with a burglary to a grocery store in unincorporated Wonder Lake.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:15:00 GMTALGONQUIN – Algonquin Village President John Schmitt was asked to resign days after he posted what he has called a “self-deprecating” picture on Facebook where his head was attached to the body of a bee. The photo, which since has been taken down, was posted in the wake of a judge’s order to halt work on the Longmeadow Parkway road project because of the possible presence of an endangered bumblebee. Algonquin resident Jack Bavaro read a prepared statement at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. He said he was speaking on behalf of many of the estimated 30 people in the audience and others who could not make the meeting. “The citizens of the village of Algonquin expect so much more from the office of the president and the trustees,” Bavaro said after holding up a poster of Schmitt’s former profile picture. Bavaro asked Schmitt to resign, and also asked trustees to condemn Schmitt’s “abhorrent” behavior as well as ask him to resign if he doesn’t do it himself. “Bottom line: [Schmitt] has failed our village, and the public no longer has confidence in the integrity of its government,” Bavaro said, receiving applause from some in the audience. Roz Strapko was the only other person to make comments regarding Longmeadow Parkway during public comment. She read a letter from Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner-elect Andrew Gasser, saying that he opposed the project because politicians have forced it, among other reasons. Plans for the controversial project call for a four-lane, 5.6-mile east-west corridor connecting Randall Road with Route 62, although it starts west of Randall Road at the intersection of Huntley and Boyer roads. The $115 million project, complete with a toll bridge over the Fox River, will go through Algonquin, Carpentersville and Barrington Hills, as well as unincorporated areas of Kane County. Schmitt did not respond to the call for resignation during the meeting, but afterward said he would not resign. “There are some things that could be out there that would warrant a village president resigning, but having bad taste isn’t one of them,” Schmitt said. The photo was posted on Schmitt’s personal Facebook, and was not a representation of the village, he said. Although he understands that the photo upset people, Schmitt said he has apologized and it’s time to move on. Algonquin Village Manager Tim Schloneger said he would challenge anyone to look at the village of Algonquin’s environmental record. “We’ve done more to protect the natural environment than any town I’ve been part of,” Schloneger said. Schmitt said he is genuinely concerned about the pollinating capability of bees in the country, but extending Longmeadow Parkway isn’t the problem. The use of pesticides in the country is what’s harming bees, and that is what needs to be looked at, Schmitt said. “This is a road project that is needed to help the environment so that we have less traffic sitting on the bridges polluting the river,” Schmitt said. “Longmeadow is not an anti-environment[...]
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 03:23:00 GMTEchoing the White House, Republicans on Capitol Hill argued Tuesday that tax cuts would spur economic growth, reducing or even eliminating any drop in tax revenue. “I’m not convinced that cutting taxes is necessarily going to blow a hole in the deficit,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Finance Committee. “I actually believe it could stimulate the economy and get the economy moving,” Hatch added. “Now, whether 15 percent is the right figure or not, that’s a matter to be determined.” The argument that tax cuts pay for themselves has been debunked by economists from across the political spectrum. On Tuesday, the official scorekeeper for Congress dealt the argument – and Trump’s plan – another blow. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation said Tuesday that a big cut in corporate taxes – even if it is temporary – would add to long-term budget deficits. This is a problem for Republicans because it means they would need Democratic support in the Senate to pass a tax overhaul that significantly cuts corporate taxes. The assessment was requested by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who has been pushing a new tax on imports to fund lower overall tax rates. Senate Republicans have panned the idea, and officials in the Trump administration have sent mixed signals about it. The import tax is not expected to be part of Trump’s plan. Trump dispatched his top lieutenants to Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss his plan with Republican leaders. They met for about half an hour. No Democrat was invited. Afterward, Hatch called it, “a preliminary meeting.” “They went into some suggestions that are mere suggestions, and we’ll go from there.” Republicans have been working under a budget maneuver that would allow them to pass a tax bill without Democratic support in the Senate – but only if it didn’t add to long-term deficits. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate was sticking to that strategy. “Regretfully we don’t expect to have any Democratic involvement in” a tax overhaul, McConnell said. “So we’ll have to reach an agreement among ourselves.” Democrats said they smell hypocrisy over the growing national debt, which stands at nearly $20 trillion. For decades, Republican lawmakers railed against saddling future generations with trillions in debt. But with Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, there is no appetite at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue to tackle the long-term drivers of debt – Social Security and Medicare. Instead, Republicans are pushing for tax cuts and increased defense spending. “I’m particularly struck by how some of this seems to be turning on its head Republican economic theory,” said Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said, “On a lot of fronts, both the administration and Republicans have been contradictory, to say the least.” “There’s no question we should try to red[...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 23:41:00 GMTWOODSTOCK – A 16-year-old boy was flown to the hospital Tuesday after a Woodstock crash, a police official said.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 23:39:00 GMTMcHENRY – A person was taken to the hospital Tuesday after falling off a motorcycle, police and fire officials said.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 21:42:00 GMTSPRINGFIELD – The Democratic-controlled Illinois House has approved public funding for all abortions.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 20:53:00 GMTBERLIN – Ivanka Trump drew groans and hisses Tuesday from an audience in Berlin while defending her father's attitude toward women, but she brushed it aside as "politics" during her first overseas trip as a White House adviser. Appearing on a high-powered panel at a conference to push for more support for women in business, Trump also said she was still trying to define her place in her father's administration. "I am rather unfamiliar with this role as well, as it is quite new to me, it's been a little under 100 days," she said. Trump has been a vocal advocate for policies benefiting working women and vocational training. But she also has faced criticism in the United States, particularly from those who think she has done little to temper her father's conservative agenda. Sharing a stage with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and others, Trump was asked by the moderator whom she was representing — President Donald Trump, the American people, or her own business interests. "Certainly not the latter," Trump said, As Trump described her father as "a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive," she drew scattered groans and hisses from the audience, prompting moderator Miriam Meckel to press her for a response. "You hear the reaction from the audience, so I need to address one more point: Some attitudes toward women your father has publicly displayed in former times might leave someone questioning whether he is such an empowerer for women," said Meckel, the editor of a business magazine and a professor of corporate communications at a Swiss university. "Are things changing?" Trump replied: "I've certainly heard the criticism from the media, and that's been perpetuated." She added that her own personal experience and the fact that "thousands" of women have worked with and for Donald Trump for decades in the private sector "are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women and their ability to do the job as well as any man." "He encouraged me and enabled me to thrive," Trump said. "I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity." There was, she stressed, "no difference between me and my brothers. And I think as a business leader you saw that, and as a president you will absolutely see that." Talking later to a small group of reporters, Trump said she was unfazed by Meckel's direct questions in a public forum. "I'm used to it. It's fine," she said, and also shrugged off the audience's reaction. "Politics is politics, as I'm learning, and there are many different viewpoints and people with different options and perspectives," she said. Trump, who promoted child care and family leave policies during her father's campaign, also told reporters that child care "is going to be part of[...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 20:50:00 GMTWASHINGTON – North Korea conducted live-fire artillery drills and a U.S. guided-missile submarine arrived in South Korea on Tuesday, escalating the standoff over the North's nuclear weapons program as the Trump administration prepared an extraordinary White House briefing for senators. Fears North Korea could mark the 85th anniversary of its military's founding with a nuclear test explosion or a ballistic missile launch proved unfounded. But the unpredictable communist nation rattled its saber all the same, with drills that served as a reminder of the threat it poses below the border to U.S.-allied South Korea. The exercise in the area of east coast city of Wonsan involved 300 to 400 artillery pieces, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said. An official from Seoul's Defense Ministry couldn't confirm such details. Seoul lies only 25 miles from the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, well within artillery range. President Donald Trump has sent more U.S. military assets to the region in a show of force while leaning on China to exert economic pressure on its wayward ally. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who spoke to Trump on Monday, is urging restraint from both Pyongyang and Washington. In Washington, top Trump administration officials are due to brief the entire U.S. Senate on Wednesday. A rapid tempo of North Korean weapons testing in the past year has pushed Kim Jong Un's authoritarian nation closer to developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the U.S. mainland. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham voiced confidence Tuesday that Trump won't allow North Korea to reach that point. Graham, a defense hawk who dined with Trump on Monday night, said the North should not underestimate the president's resolve. "We are probably in one of the most challenging situations since the Cuban missile crisis," Sen. John McCain, another Republican who joined Trump for the dinner, told a congressional hearing Tuesday, referring to the 1962 standoff with the Soviet Union that pushed the superpowers close to nuclear confrontation. McCain said a North Korean nuclear missile capable of striking an American city was "an imminent danger." McCain said Trump is "exploring all options" on North Korea. A pre-emptive strike, he said, "would be the last one." The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is headed toward the Korean Peninsula and will hold a joint exercise with South Korea. However, the deterrence effect of the operation may have been undermined by confusion over when the carrier arrives. The deployment was announced more than two weeks ago. In the meantime, the USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine, arrived Tuesday at the South Korean port of Busan for what was described as a routine visit to rest crew and load supplies. The U.S. 7th Fleet said two American destroyers were conducting simultaneous maritime exercises with naval ships from South Korea and Japan. At the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers probed experts on the potential consequences of a pre-emptive U.S. military strike o[...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 20:43:00 GMTSAN FRANCISCO – A federal judge on Tuesday blocked a Trump administration order to withhold funding from communities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities, saying the president has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending. U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued the temporary ruling in a lawsuit against the executive order targeting so-called sanctuary cities. The decision will stay in place while the lawsuit works its way through court. The Trump administration and two California governments that sued over the order disagreed about its scope during a recent court hearing. San Francisco and Santa Clara County argued that it threatened billions of dollars in federal funding for each of them, making it difficult to plan their budgets. "It's not like it's just some small amount of money," John Keker, an attorney for Santa Clara County, told Orrick at the April 14 hearing. Chad Readler, acting assistant attorney general, said the county and San Francisco were interpreting the executive order too broadly. The funding cutoff applies to three Justice Department and Homeland Security Department grants that require complying with a federal law that local governments not block officials from providing people's immigration status, he said. The order would affect less than $1 million in funding for Santa Clara County and possibly no money for San Francisco, Readler said. Republican President Donald Trump was using a "bully pulpit" to "encourage communities and states to comply with the law," Readler said. In his ruling, Orrick sided with San Francisco and Santa Clara, saying the order "by its plain language, attempts to reach all federal grants, not merely the three mentioned at the hearing." "The rest of the order is broader still, addressing all federal funding," Orrick said. "And if there was doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments." He said: "Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves." The Trump administration says sanctuary cities allow dangerous criminals back on the street and that the order is needed to keep the country safe. San Francisco and other sanctuary cities say turning local police into immigration officers erodes trust that's needed to get people to report crime. The order also has led to lawsuits by Seattle; two Massachusetts cities, Lawrence and Chelsea; and a third San Francisco Bay Area government, the city of Richmond. The San Francisco and Santa Clara County suits were the first to get a hearing before a judge. San Francisco and the county argued in court documents that the president did not have the authority to set conditions on the allocation of federal funds and could not force local officials to enforce fed[...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 19:03:00 GMTThe charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Tim R. Cotten, 26, of Shawano, Wisconsin, was arrested April 21 and charged in connection with a burglary to a convenience store in unincorporated Wonder Lake. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Christopher L. Martin Jr., 19, of Lake Villa was arrested April 21 and charged in connection with a burglary to a convenience store in unincorporated Wonder Lake. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Rahman Sidhekur, 28, of London, was arrested after he led police on a multi-jurisdictional pursuit through Lake and McHenry County in a vehicle that was reported stolen. He is now facing charges of aggravated fleeing, criminal trespass to a vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, among others. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Jacob A. Fosco, 17, of West Dundee, was arrested April 19 and charged with possession with intent to deliver LSD, possession of LSD, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Jose J. Navarro-Quiroz, 32, Waucaonda faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Erick E. Rojas-Tafolla, 27, Round Lake Park, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Alfonso Mora, 33, Wauconda, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Miguel Guzman-Carrera, 28, Round Lake Beach, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation i[...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:32:00 GMTOAK BROOK – McDonald's says new Big Mac sizes helped boost a key sales figure in the U.S., but that it's still working on trying to attract more customers to its stores.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:51:00 GMTCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Astronaut Peggy Whitson broke the U.S. record Monday for most time in space and talked up Mars during a congratulatory call from President Donald Trump. The International Space Station's commander surpassed the record of 534 days, two hours and 48 minutes for most accumulated time in space by an American. "This is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight," Trump said. His daughter and close adviser, Ivanka Trump, also offered congratulations to Whitson from the Oval Office. Whitson said it's "a huge honor" to break such a record. "It's an exciting time" as NASA prepares for human expeditions to Mars in the 2030s, included in new legislation signed by Trump last month. She called the space station "a key bridge" between living on Earth and traveling into deep space, and she singled out the station's recycling system that transforms astronauts' urine into drinking water. "It's really not as bad as it sounds," she assured the president. "Well, that's good, I'm glad to hear that," he replied. "Better you than me." Whitson already was the world's most experienced spacewoman and female spacewalker and, at 57, the oldest woman in space. By the time she returns to Earth in September, she'll have logged 666 days in orbit over three flights. The world record – 879 days – is held by Russian Gennady Padalka. Whitson broke the NASA cumulative record set last year by astronaut Jeffrey Williams; Scott Kelly holds the U.S. record for consecutive days in space – 340. Whitson is also the first woman to command the space station twice and the only woman to have led NASA's astronaut corps. Behind her was a banner that read: "Congrats Peggy!! New U.S. High-Time Space Ninja." The sign arrived Saturday on the commercial cargo ship, the S.S. John Glenn – barely in time for Monday's celebration. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer, who arrived at the space station last week and took part in Monday's call, said the space station is "by far the best example of international cooperation." Whitson told the president that spaceflight takes a lot of time and money, so getting to Mars will require collaboration from other countries to succeed. NASA is building the hardware right now to test a new rocket that will carry astronauts farther from Earth than ever before, she said. "Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term, so we'll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?" Trump replied. "We'll do our best," Whitson replied. The debut of the mega rocket is still more than a year away – at least. The date will depend on whether astronauts are on board for the test flight, which could hoist the new Orion capsule to the vicinity of the moon. Both Whitson and Fischer raised a hand when Trump asked which one of them was ready to go to Ma[...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:50:00 GMTWASHINGTON – The Trump administration issued sanctions Monday on 271 people linked to the Syrian agency responsible for producing non-conventional weapons, part of an ongoing U.S. crackdown on Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons. The sanctions target employees of Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center, which the U.S. says partly enables the use of chemical weapons. The U.S. has blamed Assad for an attack earlier this month that killed more than 80 civilians in rebel-held northern Idlib. "The United States is sending a strong message with this action: That we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by any actor," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters at the White House Monday. He said it was one of the largest such sanctions actions in U.S. history. President Donald Trump has called Assad "evil" and said his use of chemical weapons "crossed a lot of lines." Assad has strongly denied he was behind the attack, in which sarin gas was allegedly used. As a result of Monday's action, any property or interest in property of the individuals' sanctioned must be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them. As Trump dined this month with China's President Xi Jinping during their highly anticipated summit at Trump's Florida resort, word emerged that Trump took action against Assad by launching missiles against a Syrian airfield. The retaliation was seen as somewhat unexpected for a president that vowed to stay out of lingering wars and conflicts overseas. This month, Russia vetoed a Western-backed U.N. resolution that would have condemned the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria and demanded a speedy investigation into the attack. China abstained for the first time, a move the White House billed a win for their efforts to isolate Russia. "On Syria, the Council failed again this month to respond to Syria's use of chemical weapons," Trump said Monday at a White House meeting of U.N. ambassadors from countries on the Security Council. "A great disappointment. I was very disappointed by that." The U.S. has gradually been expanding its sanctions program against Syria since 2004, when it issued sanctions targeting Syria for a range of offenses, including its support of terrorism, as well as its occupation of Lebanon, efforts to undermine stability in Iraq and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. More recently, sanctions were expanded in connection with its civil war, now in its sixth year, to target offenses linked to the ongoing violence and human rights abuses. The U.S. has also issued sanctions for foreign individuals or companies that support Assad's government. A number of Iranian entities have been penalized for supporting the Syrian government or fighters working to undermine peace in Syria. While Moscow and Washington are continuously at o[...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:47:00 GMTVARNER, Ark. – Two inmates received lethal injections on the same gurney Monday night about three hours apart as Arkansas completed the nation's first double execution since 2000, just days after the state ended a nearly 12-year hiatus on administering capital punishment. While the first inmate, Jack Jones, 52, was executed on schedule, shortly after 7 p.m., attorneys for the second, Marcel Williams, 46, convinced a federal judge minutes later to briefly delay his execution over concerns about how the earlier one was carried out. They claimed Jones "was moving his lips and gulping for air," an account the state's attorney general denied, but the judge lifted her stay about an hour later and Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m. In the emergency filing, Williams' attorneys wrote that officials spent 45 minutes trying to place an IV line in Jones' neck before placing it elsewhere. It argued that Williams, who weighs 400 pounds, could face a "torturous" death because of his weight. Intravenous lines are placed before witnesses are allowed access to the death chamber. An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the execution said Jones moved his lips briefly after the midazolam was administered, and officials put a tongue depressor in his mouth intermittently for the first few minutes. His chest stopped moving two minutes after they checked for consciousness, and he was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. Initially, Gov. Asa Hutchinson scheduled four double executions over an 11-day period in April. The eight executions would have been the most by a state in such a compressed period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The state said the executions needed to be carried out before its supply of one lethal injection drug expires on April 30. Besides the two executions Monday, Arkansas put to death one other inmate last week and has a final one scheduled for Thursday. Four others have been blocked. Before last week, Arkansas hadn't had an execution since 2005 or a double execution since 1999. Jones was sent to death row for the 1995 rape and killing of Mary Phillips. He strangled her with the cord to a coffee pot. He was also convicted of attempting to kill Phillips' 11-year-old daughter and was convicted in another rape and killing in Florida. Jones said earlier this month that he was ready for execution. He used a wheelchair and he'd had a leg amputated in prison because of diabetes. Williams' "morbid obesity makes it likely that either the IV line cannot be placed or that it will be placed in error, thus causing substantial damage (like a collapsed lung)," his attorneys wrote in an earlier court filing asking justices to block the execution. Both men were served last meals on Monday afternoon, Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves said. Jones had [...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:41:00 GMTCHICAGO – Former President Barack Obama used his first public appearance since leaving office to dole out advice to young people on leadership, managing social media and even marriage. What he didn’t do was mention his successor. At a forum Monday for students at the University of Chicago, adjacent to where his presidential library will stand, Obama talked about his formative experiences as a community organizer and as a young politician running for office in Illinois. But for much of the panel event, he listened. “Although there are all kinds of issues that I care about and all kinds of issues that I intend to work on, the single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can to prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and take their own crack at changing the world,” Obama said during event, which was invite-only and streamed live online. He told the hundreds of area students in the audience that his focus after holding the nation’s highest office will be civic engagement with young people, and he that he hopes his presidential library, which will stand near the edge of campus, will be part of that mission. Since delivering his farewell address in his hometown of Chicago in January, Obama has kept a low profile. He met privately Sunday with a group of at-risk young men, talking about gang violence and opportunities for jobs. His first public engagement Monday came as President Donald Trump neared his 100-day mark in office. But Obama shied away from addressing specific policies or his own two terms as president. When it came to current events, such as immigration, he stuck to generalities. He also gave advice. When a college student panelist asked how to conduct a project involving interviewing day laborers, Obama told him to ditch the clipboard. When others asked about being young in the age of social media, Obama advised them to limit photos posted online, including being “more circumspect about your selfies.” He also dropped in a marital tidbit, saying it’s best to “listen to understand” instead of listening “to respond.” “I learned that in marriage,” he said to laughs from the audience. “That’ll save you a lot of heartache and grief.” He encouraged students to talk to people who have opposing viewpoints, asking a college Republican panelist to discuss his campus experiences. Obama said his work as a young organizer, which included meeting with Chicago public housing residents, laid the foundation for his time in office. He said he’s been reflecting as he works on a book chronicling his political career. “This community gave me a lot more than I was able to give in return,” he said. “This community taught me that everybody has a story to tell that is important.” [...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:41:00 GMTWASHINGTON – Sure enough, the big trans-Pacific trade deal is toast, climate change action is on the ropes and various regulations from the Obama era have been scrapped. It’s also a safe bet President Donald Trump hasn’t raced a bicycle since Jan. 20, keeping that vow. Add a Supreme Court justice – no small feat – and call these promises kept. But where’s that wall? Or the promised trade punishment against China – will the Chinese get off scot-free from “the greatest theft in the history of the world”? What about that “easy” replacement for Obamacare? How about the trillion-dollar infrastructure plan and huge tax cut that were supposed to be in motion by now? Trump’s road to the White House, paved in big, sometimes impossible pledges, has detoured onto a byway of promises deferred or left behind, an AP analysis found. Of 38 specific promises Trump made in his 100-day “contract” with voters – “This is my pledge to you” – he’s accomplished 10, mostly through executive orders that don’t require legislation, such as withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. He’s abandoned several and failed to deliver quickly on others, stymied at times by a divided Republican Party and resistant federal judges. Of 10 promises that require Congress to act, none has been achieved and most have not been introduced. “I’ve done more than any other president in the first 100 days,” the president bragged in a recent interview with AP, even as he criticized the marker as an “artificial barrier.” In truth, his 100-day plan remains mostly a to-do list that will spill over well beyond Saturday, his 100th day. Some of Trump’s promises were obviously hyperbole to begin with. Don’t hold your breath waiting for alleged Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl to be dropped out of an airplane without a parachute, as Trump vowed he’d do at many of his campaign rallies. China’s leader got a fancy dinner, complete with “beautiful” chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago this month, not the promised “McDonald’s hamburger” and humble pie. But many promises were meant to be taken seriously. Trump clearly owes his supporters a Mexico border wall, even if it doesn’t end up being a foot taller than the Great Wall of China. One page of his 100-day manifesto is devoted to legislation he would fight to pass in 100 days. None of it has been achieved. The other page lists 18 executive actions and intentions he promised to pursue – many on Day One. He has followed through on fewer than a dozen, largely through the use of executive orders, and the White House is boasting that he will set a post-World War II record when he signs more this week. That’s a change in tune. “We need people [...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:35:00 GMTSALEM, Ore. – The head of Bethel Heights Vineyard looked out over the 100 acres of vines her crew of 20 Mexicans had just finished pruning, worried about what will happen if the Trump administration presses ahead with its crackdown on immigrants. From tending the plants to harvesting the grapes, it takes skill and a strong work ethic to produce the winery’s pinot noir and chardonnay, and native-born Americans just aren’t willing to work that hard, Patricia Dudley said as a cold rain drenched the vineyard in the hills of Oregon. “Who’s going to come out here and do this work when they deport them all?” she asked. President Donald Trump’s hard line against immigrants in the U.S. illegally has sent a chill through the nation’s agricultural industry, which fears a crackdown will deprive it of the labor it needs to plant, grow and pick the crops that feed the country. Fruit and vegetable growers, dairy and cattle farmers and owners of plant nurseries and vineyards have begun lobbying politicians at home and in Washington to get them to deal with immigration in a way that minimizes the harm to their livelihoods. Some of the farm leaders are Republicans who voted for Trump and are torn, wanting border security but also mercy toward laborers who are not dangerous criminals. Farming uses a higher percentage of illegal labor than any other U.S. industry, according to a Pew Research Center study. Immigrants working illegally in this country accounted for about 46 percent of America’s roughly 800,000 crop farmworkers in recent years, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Agriculture. Stepped-up deportations could carry “significant economic implications,” a 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture study said. If America’s unauthorized labor force shrank 40 percent, for example, vegetable production could drop by more than 4 percent, the study said. The American Farm Bureau Federation said strict immigration enforcement would raise food prices 5 percent to 6 percent because of a drop in supply and because of the higher labor costs farmers could face. In addition to proposing a wall at the Mexican border, Trump wants to hire 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and has served notice that he intends to be more aggressive than the Obama administration in deporting immigrants. ICE agents have arrested hundreds of immigrants since Trump took office, though how much of a change from the Obama administration that represents is a matter of debate. Field hands have been among those targeted, with apple pickers detained in upstate New York and Guatemalans pulled over in Oregon on their way to a forest to pick a plant used in floral arrangements. [...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:32:00 GMTPARIS – France’s established parties are rallying around the man who helped shut them out of the presidential runoff, maverick centrist Emmanuel Macron – an alliance of convenience aimed at keeping far-right Marine Le Pen out of the Elysee Palace. Support for Macron also poured in Monday from the seat of the European Union, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jewish and Muslim groups troubled by Le Pen’s nationalist vision. European stock markets surged, and France’s main index hit its highest level since early 2008, as investors gambled that the rise of populism around the world – and its associated unpredictability in policymaking – may have peaked. For all the paeans to Macron’s unifying vision in divided times, it is now up to French voters to decide whether to entrust him with this nuclear-armed nation in the May 7 presidential runoff. Polls consider him the front-runner, but that’s no guarantee that the French will come together to stop Le Pen the way they stopped her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, from reaching the presidency in 2002. France’s divided political mainstream, rejected by an angry electorate, united Monday to urge voters to back Macron and reject Le Pen’s far-right agenda. Politicians on the moderate left and right, including French President Francois Hollande and the losing Socialist and Republican party candidates in Sunday’s first-round vote, maneuvered to block Le Pen’s path to power. In a solemn address from the Elysee palace, Hollande said he would vote for Macron, his former economy minister, because Le Pen represents “both the danger of the isolation of France and of rupture with the European Union.” Hollande said the far-right would “deeply divide France” at a time when the terror threat requires solidarity. “Faced with such a risk, it is not possible to remain silent or to take refuge in indifference,” he said. Voters narrowed the French presidential field from 11 to two in Sunday’s first-round vote, and losers from across the spectrum called on their supporters to choose Macron in round two. Only the defeated far-left candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, pointedly refused to back Macron. The contest is widely seen as a litmus test for the populist wave that last year prompted Britain to vote to leave the European Union and U.S. voters to elect Donald Trump president. Le Pen, meanwhile, is hoping to peel away voters historically opposed to her National Front Party, long tainted by racism and anti-Semitism. On Monday, she took a step in that direction, announcing she was temporarily stepping down as party leader, a move that appeared to be aimed at drawing a wider range of potential voters and was in keeping with her efforts in recent years to[...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:31:00 GMTCHICAGO – A suburban Chicago college student who was accidentally killed during a hammer throw event was struck by an errantly thrown hammer while standing near the field during warm-ups, authorities said Monday.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:31:00 GMTWASHINGTON – President Donald Trump stepped back Monday from demanding a down payment for his border wall in must-past spending legislation, potentially removing a major obstacle to a bipartisan deal just days ahead of a government shutdown deadline. Trump told a gathering of around 20 conservative media reporters Monday evening that he would be willing to return to the wall funding issue in September, according to two people who were in the room. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the get-together, which originally was not intended to be on the record. The border wall money is fiercely opposed by Democrats, whose votes are needed to pass the government-wide spending legislation that comes due Friday at midnight. The wall also is unpopular with many Republicans, and GOP negotiators on Capitol Hill were uneasy about the clash over the wall potentially sparking a government shutdown. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who has a key role providing Democratic votes to pass the legislation, welcomed Trump’s reported shift on the wall. “It’s good for the country that President Trump is taking the wall off the table in these negotiations,” Schumer said late Monday. “Now the bipartisan and bicameral negotiators can continue working on the outstanding issues.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said, “The president’s comments this evening are welcome news given the bipartisan opposition to the wall, and the obstacle it has been to the continuing bipartisan negotiations in the appropriations committees.” The wall was the most pressing issue confronting lawmakers as they returned from a two-week spring recess to face a critical deadline. Congress must pass a $1 trillion catch-all spending bill to pay for all agencies of government or trigger a partial shutdown Saturday, which happens to coincide with the 100th day of Trump’s presidency. “I’m optimistic. I don’t think anybody wants a shutdown,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said as he exited a meeting of GOP leadership. “The White House and basically the minority leaders of the House and Senate have to have some level of agreement on the things that you’re adding.” The negotiations over the spending bill took center stage Monday despite a separate White House push for fast action to revive health care legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. After signaling last week that they hoped for a vote as soon as this week on a rewritten health bill, White House officials softened their stance Monday. Echoing the views of House GOP leaders, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there would be a vote on health care legislation when House leaders count the 216 votes needed to pass it. “I[...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:30:00 GMTCRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County area police departments are working to put an end to distracted driving. Since the 2014 ban on the use of all handheld devices while driving, Crystal Lake police made about 850 stops in both 2014 and 2015 and 1,826 stops in 2016 for illegal cellphone use. The stops consists of a combination tickets and warnings. “So a thousand more stops alone last year for distracted driving,” Crystal Lake Deputy Chief Derek Hyrkas said. “And that doesn’t mean necessarily that people are doing it more, it just means that maybe our officers are paying more attention to it. We’re really trying to concentrate more on distracted driving.” In an attempt to stop distracted driving from occurring, several local police departments are participating in Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week from April 24-28. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police recently asked Gov. Bruce Rauner to declare the end of April as Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week in an effort to bring attention to the dangers and consequences associated with driving distracted. The awareness week is taking place toward the end of Distracted Driving Awareness Month in the U.S. Throughout the week, police departments are setting up special enforcement zones in attempt to educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people nationwide were killed and an estimated 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9 percent increase in fatalities as compared with the year before. Huntley Village Police Department officers have issued 28 distracted driving citations so far in 2017 regarding cellphone use. However, Huntley Deputy Chief Michael Klunk said it can be difficult to determine whether a crash, even a fatal one, was due to distracted driving. “It is a serious impact on the safety of our drivers, on the safety on our community, if somebody is talking on the phone and not paying attention to the direction of where their vehicles are going,” Klunk said. In 2012, Huntley police saw the lowest number of crashes in the village. Since then, they have started to see a slow and steady increase, Klunk said. “The vast majority of our crashes are rear-end crashes and a lot of those crashes are due to a distraction, whether it’s from an electronic device or other means,” Klunk said. Several police departments, such as McHenry, Crystal Lake, Huntley and Lake in the Hills, are using social media to show the dangers of distracted driving to the younger generation. [...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:26:00 GMTCRYSTAL LAKE – The Citizens Utility Board is hosting a free clinic Friday where experts will analyze utility bills to help Crystal Lake residents potentially save hundreds of dollars a year.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:26:00 GMTSUGAR CREEK – A motorcyclist died Monday morning after crashing into a tree in Sugar Creek Township, according to the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:25:00 GMTMetra has announced that any pet that can fit in a small carrier is welcome to ride weekday Metra trains at certain hours starting May 1.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:25:00 GMTWOODSTOCK – Police officials have released photos of the car sought in connection with the hit-and-run that killed a man on Route 14 last month and are asking for help to identify the culprit.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:25:00 GMTMcHENRY – The McHenry City Council denied a use variance Monday to allow a tattoo parlor and art studio on Main Street.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:24:00 GMTCRYSTAL LAKE – Starting next month, a drive down part of Route 14 will be a reminder that freedom is protected by people willing to make sacrifices. The Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the city and several veterans organizations, has started a program to honor deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines with blue-star banners. The city is allowing the chamber the use of 16 light poles near its 427 W. Virginia St. offices. Applications are being accepted now for the first banners to go up in May, Chamber President Mary Margaret Maule said. “I think this is a great acknowledgement. Less than 1 percent of the population is willing to step forward and serve,” said Maule, whose husband spent 22 years in the Navy and has two children who followed his footsteps. “I think it’s a great way for the city to recognize the sacrifice of families and the commitment of service members.” The honor is open to anybody currently deployed with the Armed Forces who has a connection to Crystal Lake. The person does not have to be a resident – for example, the banners can honor a city employee who lives elsewhere, or a deployed Armed Forces member who never lived in Crystal Lake but has family here. Applications are forwarded to a committee that will select which ones get honored. New banners will go up every May and January – they come down in November and December for the city’s Christmas decorations. Applications will be reviewed on a continual basis. The idea was first presented to the City Council by 20-year resident Donna McAnally, who belongs to a military moms group. When two group members said some towns in other states honor service members with blue star banners, McAnally decided that Crystal Lake should do it as well. McAnally, who has one son in the Army and another in the Navy, said the banners will provide “a visual and moving display” that allows people to make a connection with men and women serving overseas. “I thought it would be a wonderful way to honor Crystal Lake residents who are in service to our country,” she said. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12014, American Legion Post 171 and TLS Veterans are partnering with the city and the chamber. The chamber also is accepting sponsorships of banners to help defray the cost. While the idea of honoring family members going off to war with a blue star dates back to World War I – the U.S. only participated in the last year and a half of the war – it became widespread in World [...]
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:24:00 GMTMARENGO – The city’s new mayor was sworn in Monday and already has top administration issues on his mind.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:22:00 GMTALGONQUIN – A judge’s order to halt work on the Longmeadow Parkway road project over the possible presence of an endangered bumblebee has resulted in two headaches for Village President John Schmitt. The first for the staunch supporter of the project, who has taken a lot of the heat from opponents, is the halt itself, and wondering whether the judge will extend the halt order this Friday. The other is a Facebook post that Schmitt said was in self-deprecating fun but that opponents didn’t find funny. In the wake of last week’s ruling, Schmitt changed his profile picture to his head attached to the body of a bee. He has since taken it down. “I’d rather not talk about it. It was lighthearted, a self-deprecating picture of myself. It certainly wasn’t meant to be insulting. If anybody or any species took offense to it, I sincerely apologize, but I certainly didn’t do it to be insulting,” Schmitt said. But to Laura Brehmer, an opponent of the project who was one of two candidates who rode that discontent to seats on the Village Board in the April 4 election, it wasn’t a gaffe so much as evidence that Schmitt and other officials don’t take opponents’ concerns seriously. “I think it was a real error in judgment. It’s not a laughing matter,” Brehmer said. Work on the parkway started near Randall Road in Algonquin on April 17, but ended several hours later after U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Coleman granted an emergency stop requested by opponents who said the planned route includes a habitat of the endangered rusty patched bumblebee. Coleman’s order is in effect until Friday, when a status hearing is scheduled. Algonquin has turned over control of more than $3 million worth of land to the project, Schmitt said. Plans call for a four-lane, 5.6-mile east-west corridor connecting Randall Road with Route 62, although it starts west of Randall Road at the intersection of Huntley and Boyer roads. The $115 million project, complete with a toll bridge over the Fox River, will go through Algonquin, Carpentersville and Barrington Hills, as well as unincorporated areas of Kane County. But while proponents call the project a necessary measure to ease congestion, opponents include environmental groups and homeowners along the project path who allege it will decrease their quality of life. Schmitt pointed to Friday night’s rescue of boaters stalled under the Route 62 bridge over the Fox River and headed[...]