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French president warns that U.K. can't keep full access to EUFrench President Emmanuel Macron gestures Friday during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:21:00 GMT

LONDON – French President Emmanuel Macron has suggested that Britain is likely to negotiate a unique relationship with the European Union before it leaves the bloc next year, while stressing that any agreement must be consistent with EU rules.

In remarks released Saturday, Macron told the BBC’s Andrew Marr television program that Britain cannot maintain its full access to the EU’s single market if it doesn’t accept the bloc’s founding principles, including the free movement of people and the jurisdiction of EU courts.

“This special way should be consistent with the preservation of the single market and our collective interests,” he said. “And you should understand that you cannot, by definition, have the full access to the single market if you don’t tick the box.”

That means Britain must continue to contribute to the EU budget and accept the four freedoms guaranteed by the bloc – free movement of people, goods, services and capital – if it wants to maintain full access to the single market, Macron said.

The full interview will be broadcast Sunday.

The comments undermine the position of some Brexit supporters who want to regain control of the U.K.’s borders and shun the oversight of European courts while retaining access to the single market.

It also will dash the hopes of some in Britain who thought Macron might be more flexible than German Chancellor Angela Merkel in negotiating a deal.

Macron’s influence within the EU is on the rise as Merkel’s position weakens following an election in September that eroded her power base.

Merkel still has not been able to cobble together a coalition government even after months of talks with other political parties.

Macron’s comments echo those he made during a meeting Thursday in which he and British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged closer cooperation on defense and border security after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

Macron said the U.K.’s financial services industry can’t keep its coveted access to the EU market unless the country continues playing by EU rules.

“As soon as you decide not to join these preconditions, it’s not a full access,” Macron told the BBC.

“What’s important is not to make people think, or believe, that it’s possible to have” your cake and eat it, he said, accepting Marr’s suggestion for the last five words.

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures Friday during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

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Cardinal rebukes pope over Chile 'slander' comments on sex abusePope Francis celebrates a seaside Mass on Saturday on Huanchaco Beach near the city of Trujillo, Peru. Francis traveled to northern Peru, a region still reeling from devastating floods nearly a year ago.Members of the movement Laicos de Osorno sing while holding up images showing the Rev. Fernando Karadima and his protege Juan Barros, bishop of Osorno, with a message that reads in Spanish: "A bishop who covers up cannot be a priest," during a vigil in front of the Cathedral of Santiago, Chile.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:21:00 GMT

LIMA, Peru – Pope Francis’ top adviser on clerical sex abuse implicitly rebuked the pontiff for having accused Chilean victims of slander, saying Saturday that his words were “a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse.” Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said he couldn’t explain why Francis “chose the particular words he used.” He said such expressions had the effect of abandoning victims and relegating them to “discredited exile.” In an extraordinary effort at damage control, O’Malley insisted in a statement that Francis “fully recognizes the egregious failures of the church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones.” Francis set off a national uproar upon leaving Chile on Thursday when he accused victims of the country’s most notorious pedophile priest of having slandered another bishop, Juan Barros. The victims say Barros knew of the abuse by the Rev. Fernando Karadima but did nothing to stop it – a charge Barros denies. “The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak,” Francis told Chilean journalists in the northern city of Iquique. “There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?” The remarks shocked Chileans, drew immediate outrage from victims and their advocates and once again raised the question of whether the 81-year-old Argentine Jesuit “gets it” about sex abuse. The Karadima scandal has devastated the credibility of the Roman Catholic Church in Chile, and Francis’ comments will likely haunt it for the foreseeable future. O’Malley’s carefully worded critique was remarkable since it is rare for a cardinal to publicly rebuke the pope in such terms. But Francis’ remarks were so potentially toxic to the Vatican’s years-long effort to turn the tide on decades of clerical sex abuse and cover-up that he clearly felt he had to respond. O’Malley headed Francis’ much-touted committee for the protection of minors until it lapsed last month after its initial three-year mandate expired. Francis has not named new members, and the committee’s future remains unclear. O’Malley, who took over as Boston archbishop from the disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law after the sex abuse scandal exploded there in 2002, was traveling to Peru on Saturday to meet with the pope. His spokesman said the trip was previously scheduled. Francis leaves Sunday to return to Rome. “It is understandable that Pope Francis’ statements ... were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator,” O’Malley said in the statement. “Words that convey the message ‘if you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed’ abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile.” Francis’ comments were all the more problematic because Karadima’s victims were deemed so credible by the Vatican that it sentenced him to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” in 2011 based on their testimony. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking. Those same victims accused Barros of witnessing the abuse. Yet Francis said he considered their accusations “all calumny” and that he wouldn’t believe them without proof. Catholic officials for years sought to discredit victims by accusing them of slandering and attacking the church with their claims. But many in the church and the Vatican had come to [...]

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California mudslides take heavy toll on immigrants serving posh townThis photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office on Jan. 13 shows Pinit Sutthithepa. Sutthithepa was among those reported missing from this week's deadly Montecito, Calif., mudslides.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:21:00 GMT

Oprah Winfrey and Rob Lowe give Montecito its star power, but it’s people such as Antonio and Victor Benitez who keep the wealthy Southern California community running. The Mexican brothers are gardeners and part of the town’s working-class immigrant population, which suffered outsized losses from the recent mudslides that killed at least 20, injured dozens and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes. Antonio and Victor Benitez suffered broken bones and each lost a child. Antonio’s wife was killed, while Victor’s wife is missing and his toddler son was injured. Nearly a third of those killed in the Jan. 9 mudslides were from immigrant families working in service jobs in the largely white and retired Pacific coast town of 9,000. Many of these families are from developing countries seizing the opportunities provided by the area’s wealth to make a better life for their children. Among them was 30-year-old Pinit Sutthithepa from Thailand who worked at a Toyota dealership in Santa Barbara and sent money to his wife and two children for years before being able to bring them to the U.S. in 2016. The mudslides killed him, his 6-year-old son and his 79-year-old stepfather. Crews still are searching for Sutthithepa’s 2-year-old daughter. His wife and mother were working at a grocery store when rocks and rushing water obliterated their home, Mike Caldwell, Sutthithepa’s boss wrote on a GoFundMe page seeking help for the family. Martin Cabrera Munoz, 48, worked long hours as a landscaper so he could send money to his children in his native Guanajuato, Mexico. He was sleeping in the room he kept at his boss’s home when an avalanche of mud ripped through the property. “He wanted to give his kids a better life,” his youngest sister, Diana Montero, told the Los Angeles Times. His funeral was held Wednesday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Santa Barbara, where people are also mourning the Benitez family deaths. The Rev. Pedro Lopez has tried to offer words of comfort to his tightknit, Spanish-speaking parish – but he knows the healing will be slow and painful. “We’ve let everyone know the importance of being available to one another to share their grief,” Lopez said. Many members of the modest church are without work now that the million-dollar homes they cared for have been destroyed by the storm-triggered landslides, which also closed U.S. Highway 101, a major route for commuters between the coastal region’s two major cities, Santa Barbara and Ventura. A lot of families “can’t get to work because of the freeway closure, or they don’t know where to work now, and they don’t know how they are going to pay rent or buy groceries,” Lopez said. Victor and Antonio Benitez built a thriving gardening business after coming to the United States as teenagers from Mexico, joining their father and another brother. The two brothers, their wives and children shared a home so they could afford the rent in Montecito, where the median home price is more than $4 million. They were asleep when the mud and rocks thundered down the hillsides. As it poured in, collapsing the walls, some of the family members tried to escape through the kitchen door but were swept away. The body of Victor’s son, 10-year-old Jonathan Benitez, was found nearly 2 miles away. “He was quite a popular young man. He took everybody under his wing,” Lopez said, adding that one girl cried when recalling how Jonathan welcomed her to the first communion class. Jonathan’s mother, 28-year-old Fabiola Benitez, a housekeeper, still is missin[...]

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Turkish jets bombard Kurdish-run city of Afrin in SyriaTurkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters Saturday in Kutahya in western Turkey. Erdogan repeated that a Turkish offensive against the Syrian Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin was "de facto" underway and said it would be followed by an operation against another Kurdish-held territory.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:21:00 GMT

KOCABEYLI, Turkey – Turkish jets bombed the Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin in northern Syria on Saturday, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to expand Turkey’s military border operations against a Kurdish group that has been the U.S.’s key Syria ally in the war on the Islamic State group. The raids came on the heels of a week of sharp threats by the Turkish government, promising to clear the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, from Afrin and its surrounding countryside, also called Afrin. Turkey’s military is calling the campaign Operation Olive Branch. Turkey says the YPG – a group it considers a terrorist organization – is an extension of an outlawed Kurdish rebel group that it is fighting inside its own borders, and it has found common cause with Syrian opposition groups who view the YPG as a counter-revolutionary force in Syria’s multi-sided civil war. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said a ground offensive could begin Sunday, but the state run Anadolu News Agency reported that Syrian forces backed by Ankara had already penetrated the Kurdish enclave. They crossed over from Turkey but were turned back by the YPG, said Rojhat Roj, a Kurdish spokesman. Associated Press journalists at the Turkish border saw jets bombing positions in the direction of Afrin, as a convoy of armed pickup trucks and buses believed to be carrying Syrian opposition fighters traveled along the border. Video from Turkey this week showed the military moving tanks to the frontier. Roads out of the Afrin were closed and the YPG were not allowing anyone to leave the city, but morale was high, said a resident who was reached by phone. “So far the People’s Protection Units have not called on the people to mobilize,” Ramzi Hamidi said. Turkey, he said, “will learn a lesson they have not learned before.” Ten civilians were wounded in the airstrikes, three seriously, Roj said. Turkey has prepared about 10,000 Syrian fighters to storm Afrin, said Rami Abudrrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group. A rebel commander speaking to the AP by phone from north Syria said there were thousands of fighters positioned in Azaz, at the frontier with the Kurdish enclave, awaiting orders. Another commander said hundreds more were stationed in Atmeh, south of Afrin. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The Russian Defense Ministry said, meanwhile, that it was pulling back troops that had been deployed near Afrin, two days after Turkey’s military and intelligence briefs travelled to Moscow to discuss the planned operation. It said the group of observers was being relocated to another area. It was not clear how many troops were affected by the move. The YPG is the driving force behind a coalition of north Syrian forces allied with the U.S. to battle the Islamic State group. With U.S. support, including around 2,000 embedded forces, the coalition now controls close to a quarter of Syrian territory, concentrated mostly to the north and east of the Euphrates River. Turkish leaders were infuriated by an announcement by the U.S. military six days ago that it was going to create a 30,000-strong border force with the Kurdish fighters to secure northern Syria. Days later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the U.S. would maintain a military presence with the Kurds for the foreseeable future. Tillerson spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, the U.S. State Department said. No details about the calls were immediately availabl[...]

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U.S. marches for women's rights slam Trump, encourage votingKrista Honomichl holds a sign that reads "We won't give up, we won't give in" during the Women's March on Saturday in downtown Sioux Falls, S.D. The march was among dozens of rallies across the country Saturday and Sunday. The activists are hoping to create an enduring political movement that will elect more women to government office.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:21:00 GMT

LOS ANGELES – Demonstrators from Los Angeles to New York marched in support of female empowerment and denounced President Donald Trump’s views on immigration, abortion, LGBT rights and women’s rights on Saturday, the anniversary of his inauguration. People marched in Casper, Wyoming, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Houston. In Park City, Utah, where the annual Sundance Film Festival is in full swing, actress Jane Fonda and nationally known attorney Gloria Allred joined the women’s march. In Morristown, New Jersey, that state’s new first lady told a crowd she was a victim of sexual violence while attending college. Tammy Murphy, the wife of Democrat Phil Murphy, said the attack occurred while she was a sophomore at the University of Virginia. She said she was walking along a path when a man grabbed her and pulled her into some bushes. She said the man tried to take her clothes off and put a crab apple in her mouth to silence her but she bit his hand and fled half-dressed to a nearby fraternity house, where students called police. In Los Angeles, Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman, Viola Davis, Alfre Woodard, Scarlett Johansson, Constance Wu, Adam Scott and Rob Reiner were among the celebrities who addressed a crowd of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators. Longoria, who starred in TV’s “Desperate Housewives,” told marchers their presence matters, “especially when those in power seem to have turned their backs on reason and justice.” Portman, an Academy Award winner, talked about feeling sexualized by the entertainment industry from the time her first film, “Leon: The Professional,” was released when she was 13 and suggested it’s time for “a revolution of desire.” In the 1994 film, Portman played a young girl taken in by a hit man after her family is killed. Woodard urged everyone to register and vote, saying, “the 2018 midterms start now.” And Davis spoke with the passion of a preacher as she discussed the nation’s history of discrimination and her past as a sexual assault survivor. The 2017 rally in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of similar marches created solidarity for those opposing Trump’s views, words and actions. Millions of people around the world marched during last year’s rallies, and many on Saturday talked about the news avalanche of politics and gender issues in the past year. Critics of the weekend’s marches said the demonstrations were really a protest against Trump. More rallies were planned at other cities on Sunday. Meanwhile, Trump on Saturday tweeted that it was a “perfect day” for women to march to celebrate the “economic success and wealth creation” that’s happened during his first year in office. “Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months,” the Republican wrote. “Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!” Trump’s main opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Democratic former U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton, said the Women’s March last year was “a beacon of hope and defiance.” “In 2018, it is a testament to the power and resilience of women everywhere,” she tweeted, urging people to show that power at the voting booth this year. Demonstrators on Saturday denounced Trump’s views with colorful signs and even saltier language. Oklahoma City protesters chanted “We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” One woman donned a T-shirt with the likeness of social justice icon Woody Guth[...]

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Globe-trotting master of French cuisine Paul Bocuse dies at age 91AP file photo French Chef Paul Bocuse poses March 24, 2011, outside his famed Michelin three-star restaurant, L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, in Collonges-au-Mont-d'or in central France. French interior minister announced Saturday that Bocuse, a master of French cuisine, has died at age 91.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:21:00 GMT

PARIS – Paul Bocuse, the master chef who defined French cuisine for more than a half-century and put it on tables around the world, has died. He was 91. Often referred to as the “pope of French cuisine,” Bocuse was a tireless pioneer, the first chef to blend the art of cooking with savvy business tactics – branding his cuisine and his image to create an empire of restaurants around the globe. Bocuse died Saturday at Collonges-au-Mont-d’or, the place where he was born and had his restaurant. “French gastronomy loses a mythical figure,” French President Emmanuel Macron said. “The chefs cry in their kitchens, at the Elysee [presidential palace] and everywhere in France.” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb tweeted that “Mister Paul was France. Simplicity and generosity. Excellence and art de vivre.” Bocuse, who underwent a triple heart bypass in 2005, had also been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Bocuse’s temple to French gastronomy, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, outside the city of Lyon in southeastern France, has held three stars – without interruption – since 1965 in the Michelin guide, the bible of gastronomes. In 1982, Bocuse opened a restaurant in the France Pavilion in Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida, headed by his son Jerome, also a chef. In recent years, Bocuse even dabbled in fast food with two outlets in his home base of Lyon. “He has been a leader. He took the cook out of the kitchen,” celebrity French chef Alain Ducasse said at a 2013 gathering to honor Bocuse. “Monsieur Paul,” as he was known, was placed right in the center of 2013 cover of the newsweekly Le Point that exemplified “The French Genius.” Shown in his trademark pose – arms folded over his crisp white apron, a tall chef’s hat, or “toque,” atop his head – he was winged by Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur and Coco Chanel, among other French luminaries. While excelling in the business of cooking, Bocuse never flagged in his devotion to his first love, creating a top class, quintessentially French meal. He eschewed the fads and experiments that captivated many other top chefs. “In cooking, there are those who are rap and those who are concerto,” he told the French newsmagazine L’Express before his 2005 biography, adding that he tended toward the concerto. Born into a family of cooks that he dates to the 1700s, Bocuse stood guard over the kitchen of his world-famous restaurant even in retirement. In a 2011 interview with The Associated Press, Bocuse said he slept in the room where he was born above the dining rooms. “But I changed the sheets,” he added with characteristic wry humor. Born on Feb. 11, 1926, Bocuse entered his first apprenticeship at 16. He worked at the famed La Mere Brazier in Lyon, then spent eight years with one of his culinary idols, Fernand Point, whose cooking was a precursor to France’s nouvelle cuisine movement, with lighter sauces and lightly cooked fresh vegetables. Bocuse’s career in the kitchen traversed the ages. He went from apprenticeships and cooking “brigades,” as kitchen teams are known, when stoves were coal-fired and chefs also served as scullery maids, to the ultra-modern kitchen of his Auberge. “There was rigor,” Bocuse told the AP. “(At La Mere Brazier) you had to wake up early and milk the cows, feed the pigs, do the laundry and cook. ... It was a very tough school of hard knocks.” “Today, the profession has changed enormously. Th[...]

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Huntley School District 158 interim superintendent prepares for new roleBradley Hawk, interim superintendent for Huntley School District 158District 158 Superintendent John BurkeyHuntley School District 158 Board member William Geheren, President Donald Drzal and outgoing Superintendent John Burkey discuss the process of finding the district's next superintendent at a recent meeting.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:16:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – Bradley Hawk hopes he can make the transition to superintendent as smooth as possible for Huntley School District 158. “[I look forward to] being able to use some of my experience and background to make sure we help all the members of organizations, parents, families and stakeholders, and they understand it can be a smooth process,” Hawk said. “Certainly anyone who follows [Superintendent] John [Burkey] will have big shoes to fill.” Hawk was appointed to serve as interim superintendent when Burkey leaves the position, effective Jan. 31, to take a new job as executive director of the Large Unit District Association, a lobbying group for school districts. Burkey said Hawk’s background makes him well-equipped for the role. He served as interim superintendent for DeKalb School District 428 in 2016 and previously was superintendent of Burlington Central School District 301. Hawk also is a Northern Illinois University professor. “I really hope we can continue on in the direction we’ve set, but I hope the superintendent takes us to the next level,” Burkey said. “That’s what I tried to do what I came, and I hope the next superintendent does that, as well. We are such a good organization because we keep pushing ourselves further. We have to be better.” Hawk and Burkey have known each other for more than 20 years. They met at the University of Illinois in 1996 while both earning their doctorate degrees, Burkey said. “We were middle school principals in two different districts, and we both ended up in this area by coincidence,” Burkey said. “We have such a good relationship that we work really well together, both formally and informally, and will continue to.” Burkey said he talks regularly with Hawk, and Hawk is attending weekly cabinet meetings to learn about every arm of the district. Hawk worked for District 158 as assistant superintendent for human resources from 2000 to 2004, and he worked as interim assistant principal at Huntley High School in 2010. He said he plans to work with the assistant superintendent for human resources to look at staffing and make sure the district is well-staffed for the 2018-19 school year. “I’ll also be working with the board of education, since the search will be a new process for them since John has been the superintendent for 12 years,” Hawk said. “I am hoping to help them ask the right questions to the right people.” Hawk, who will begin the interim role Feb. 1, will be paid no more than $72,000 to work the remainder of the 2017-18 school year, according to his contract. He also will be available for phone consultation to the replacement superintendent for four weeks on an as-needed basis, district documents show. The board approved hiring executive search firm Hazard Young, Attea & Associates of Schaumburg – part of the ECRA Group – for $17,500 to find the district’s next leader. While reflecting on his time in District 158, Burkey said he is most proud of the implementation of blended-learning classes, an idea he came up with during one holiday break while trying to think of how classes could be more flexible in high school. Blended-learning classes allow students to learn in part at a brick-and-mortar facility as well as through online delivery. “I got some teachers to try it, and all credit to them, they made it happen, not me,” Burkey said. “We have thousands of kids now taking blended-learning classes, and we are getting testimonials of how much it’s helping kids[...]

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2 Illinois residents ill after health experts link sprouts from Jimmy John's to salmonellaIllinois health experts have linked a recent cluster of individuals with salmonella with sprouts served at multiple Jimmy John's locations across the state.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:16:00 GMT

Illinois health experts have linked a recent cluster of individuals with salmonella, a bacterial illness associated with contaminated food, with sprouts served at multiple Jimmy John's locations across the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and other state and local health departments announced in a news release Friday that they are investigating a cluster of salmonella infections after two Illinois residents became ill.

The residents reported becoming ill Dec. 20 and 26, and based on a review of produce, suppliers and items consumed, investigators believe the most likely source of the infection is sprouts from multiple Jimmy John’s locations.

The release did not state at what locations the individuals believe they became infected.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has asked the sandwich chain to discontinue the sale of sprouts until the investigation is complete.

Anyone who might have developed symptoms of salmonella after eating food at a Jimmy John’s restaurant should contact his or her health care provider or local health department.

Symptoms include headache, muscle aches, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, chills, fever, nausea and dehydration, according to the release, and usually appear six to 72 hours after ingesting the bacteria, but can be longer.

Most illnesses become resolved on their own and do not require treatment other than drinking fluids to stay hydrated.

Salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals. Person-to-person transmission of salmonella occurs when an infected person’s feces, from his or her unwashed hands, contaminates food during preparation or comes into direct contact with another person.

Almost any food can be contaminated with the bacteria.

Illinois health experts have linked a recent cluster of individuals with salmonella with sprouts served at multiple Jimmy John's locations across the state.

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Woodstock man charged with possession of sedatives, needles

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:15:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A 48-year-old Woodstock man was arrested Friday after police said they found him with two different prescription sedatives and dozens of hypodermic needles.

Police issued a warrant for Raymond D. Zwiefka’s arrest in March 2016 after officers said he had less than 30 grams of Xanax, Klonopin and 33 hypodermic needles.

A criminal complaint filed in McHenry County stated that police also found the man with a “metallic spoon,” which they believe would be used to do drugs.

Crystal Lake police, who filed the complaint, could not be reached to comment on how they came in contact with Zwiefka.

McHenry County court records show that officers tried to arrest him on a warrant in April but were unsuccessful.

Zwiefka, of the 14400 block of Kishwaukee Valley Road, Woodstock, is charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of hypodermic needles. The most serious charge, possession of a controlled substance, typically is punishable by one to three years in prison.

Zwiefka’s bond is set at $15,000, meaning he would need to post $1,500 to be released from the McHenry County Jail, jail records show.

He was due in court Saturday, when he could be appointed a public defender.

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Spring Grove police mistake pistachio shells for marijuana, find pills in woman's pocketNancy Pahlman, 59, of the 1400 block of Lotus Drive, Round Lake Beach

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:15:00 GMT

SPRING GROVE – A pile of crushed pistachio shells mistaken for marijuana led to felony drug charges for a 59-year-old Round Lake Beach woman, who also happened to have a bottle of prescription pills in her pocket, her attorney said.

Nancy Pahlman, of the 1400 block of Lotus Drive, was released from the McHenry County Jail on Wednesday. Judge Jeffrey Hirsch said Pahlman could leave the jail without posting a cash bond on the conditions that she would show up to court dates and not abuse drugs.

She is charged with possession of a controlled substance, which typically is punishable by one to three years in prison.

Spring Grove police stopped Pahlman for speeding on Jan. 5, according to a criminal complaint filed in McHenry County court. When an officer mistook the pile of de-shelled pistachios in her passenger seat for marijuana, the officer asked her to step out of the car, said her attorney, Philip Prossnitz.

A search of Pahlman’s car yielded no marijuana, but police found a bottle of the narcotic pain medication tramodol in her coat pocket, according to a motion her attorney filed.

Prossnitz said he now is trying to prove that police did not have a strong enough reason to search Pahlman’s vehicle.

The prescription for the pills was in a family member’s name, although Pahlman does have her own prescription for the medication to help treat chronic pain from fibromyalgia, Prossnitz said.

A year earlier, when Pahlman said she was driving a family member to cancer treatment, the pills fell out of the relative’s bag, and Pahlman put them in her coat pocket for safe keeping, Prossnitz said.

The family member died shortly after, and the pills were forgotten until she brought out her winter coat again, Prossnitz said.

Representatives from the Spring Grove Police Department and McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office were not available Friday to comment on the charges or details surrounding Pahlman’s arrest.

Her next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 1.

At a future court date, Prossnitz plans to enter a bag of pistachios into evidence, he said.

“I think we are a motion to suppress and a bag of pistachio nuts away from resolving this matter,” he said.

Nancy Pahlman, 59, of the 1400 block of Lotus Drive, Round Lake Beach

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More than 200 McHenry County residents travel to Women's March ChicagoAs the sun rose Saturday morning over the Crystal Lake Metra station, more than 200 McHenry County residents gathered to ride buses to downtown Chicago for the 2018 Women's March Chicago: March to the Polls.People protest newly inaugurated President Donald Trump on Jan. 21, 2017, during a Women's March in Chicago.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:14:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – As the sun rose Saturday morning over the Crystal Lake Metra station, more than 200 McHenry County residents gathered to take buses to downtown Chicago for the 2018 Women’s March Chicago: March to the Polls.

Crystal Lake resident Kelli Wegener organized four buses to travel downtown for last year’s event. She coordinated an even larger turnout for 2018.

“We’re very excited,” Wegener said. “I think in the past year there’s been so much negativity. We’re trying to create the positive movement, so we want to get out there and show that we care about things, and we want change.”

About 175 individuals rode together in 2017. This year, about 235 pulled up to the south side of the train tracks to make the trip. Other McHenry County residents organized groups to attend the march, including one made up of almost three dozen people from Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry.

Men, women and children donning Women’s March merchandise and carrying signs piled onto five buses.

Thousands were expected to attend marches and rallies across the state Saturday as part of a national effort to mobilize women ahead of this year’s elections. Chicago’s march was expected to have the largest attendance in the state.

The march’s Facebook group showed about 16,000 people marked “going” and about 15,000 who were “interested.” Metra added extra trains to accommodate the expected high volume.

Politicians, activists and entertainers took to the stage about 11 a.m., and the crowd was set to march from Grant Park to Federal Plaza about 12:30 p.m.

“There’s always been women’s issues, but people never really paid attention to them,” Wegener said. “I think that women, men too, but, when we rise up and talk about things, it will promote change. Get out there and vote.”

Events were planned in other communities, including Rockford, Bloomington, East Peoria and the Quad Cities in addition to those in Chicago.

More than 1 million people attended similar events across the country in January 2017 to protest newly inaugurated President Donald Trump and his policies.

About 250,000 people gathered in Chicago last year.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

As the sun rose Saturday morning over the Crystal Lake Metra station, more than 200 McHenry County residents gathered to ride buses to downtown Chicago for the 2018 Women's March Chicago: March to the Polls.People protest newly inaugurated President Donald Trump on Jan. 21, 2017, during a Women's March in Chicago.

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Gov. Bruce Rauner visits annual Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber awards galaGov. Bruce Rauner, pictured with his wife, Diana Rauner, speaks at the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce annual awards gala Saturday at Turnberry Country Club in Lakewood.Lake in the Hills Village President Russ Ruzanski listens to Gov. Bruce Rauner speak at the awards gala Saturday.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:12:00 GMT

LAKEWOOD – More than 100 members of the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce cheered as Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana Rauner, walked into the Chamber’s annual awards gala Saturday night at Turnberry Country Club, 9600 Turnberry Trail. In his brief acknowledgment of the business awards finalists, Rauner said that Illinois has every reason to thrive, but he said high taxes and “lots of regulations” are holding back businesses in the state. “My No. 1 priority is to make sure that we’re helping you thrive and build your business by rolling back the regulations and cutting the taxes so you can be prosperous and boom and grow, and create a lot of good-paying jobs in the state of Illinois,” Rauner said. Rauner said the state has challenges, such as funding state pensions and education, but he told business community members that the state’s challenges can be overcome with strong economic growth. “Higher family incomes, greater prosperity, [a] better future for our children and grandchildren … every challenge we face comes through greater economic opportunity,” Rauner said. Rauner said he is committed to rolling income tax back to 3 percent and helping business owners bring down property taxes by reducing mandates in Springfield. “You control your own governments – your city governments, your villages, your municipalities, your townships – you run them; don’t let Springfield tell you how to run them,” Rauner said. “You run them yourself, and we will give you the power through a simple referendum to control your property tax levy.” Lake in the Hills Village President Russ Ruzanski said he appreciates that the Rauners stopped at the event when they easily could have been anywhere else on a Saturday evening. “That shows respect for everybody that is here and, in turn, I think he earns a lot of respect from the people who are here,” Ruzanski said. After his speech, Rauner said he makes a point to go out of his way to meet small business owners and do what he can to make sure they succeed and help Illinois succeed as a whole. “What I do is listen to them,” Rauner said. “What regulations are getting in their way? What regulations can we get rid of so that it makes it easier for them to grow, and what taxes are the most difficult for them so we can try to cut those taxes to make them more competitive and grow?” Rauner said he has a connection with McHenry County because his godparents live in Algonquin. He said he decided to stop by the event because he was attending an event in Rolling Meadows earlier in the day. Katrina McGuire, executive director for the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber, said all state representatives and leaders in local government get an invite to the gala every year. She said 1,300 public votes were cast for the awards for local businesses that are part of the Chamber. CHAMBER AWARD WINNERS New Chamber Member Business winner Butcher on the Block Club/Organization winner ​Algonquin Area Public Library Hospitality/Food/Entertainment winner ​Scorched Earth Brewing Co. Large Business winner ​Algonquin Bank and Trust Home Office winner [...]

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Pence says troops should not have to worry about government shutdownVice President Mike Pence with his wife, Karen Pence, waves to anti-abortion supporters and participants of the annual March for Life event Thursday during a reception in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, D.C.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:11:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Vice President Mike Pence is making his fourth visit to Israel, returning to a region he's visited "a million times" in his heart. An evangelical Christian with strong ties to the Holy Land, Pence this time comes packing two key policy decisions in his bags that have long been top priorities for him: designating Jerusalem as Israel's capital and curtailing aid for Palestinians. Pence departed as scheduled Friday evening as U.S. lawmakers sought to avert a federal government shutdown at midnight. Alyssa Farah, a Pence spokeswoman, said the trip was "integral to America's national security and diplomatic objectives" and would go on as scheduled. Pence was set to depart Friday evening, and Air Force Two was expected to land in Ireland for a refueling stop early Saturday en route to Cairo. During a stopover in Ireland, Pence greeted US soldiers at Shannon Airport in Ireland hours after the federal government shutdown. Pence told troops: "We'll get this thing figured out in Washington." He told the soldiers to "stay focused on your mission." Pence told reporters that "we have soldiers that are headed down range to Kuwait for six months in a critical theater to serve the country, and yet because of Democrats in the Senate, they have anxiety about their pay." He said: "It's disappointing to every American that Democrats would shut down the government at a time when we have troops in harms way." Since his days in Congress a decade ago, Pence has played a role in pushing both for the shift in U.S. policy related to the capital and for placing limits on funding for Palestinian causes long criticized by Israel. Traveling to Israel just as Palestinians have condemned recent decisions by President Donald Trump's administration, Pence will arrive in the region as a longtime stalwart supporter of Israel who has questioned the notion of the U.S. serving as an "honest broker" in the stalled peace process. "The United States certainly wants to be honest, but we don't want to be a broker," Pence once told the Christian Broadcasting Network in 2010. "A broker doesn't take sides. A broker negotiates between parties of equals." The vice president will hold four days of meetings in Egypt, Jordan and Israel during his visit, the first to the region by a senior administration official since Trump announced plans in December to designate Jerusalem as Israel's capital and begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, angering Palestinian leaders. His trip will also follow Tuesday's announcement that the U.S. is withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Both decisions have come as Trump has expressed frustration over a lack of progress in restarting peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, who withdrew plans to meet with Pence during his visit to the Middle East. Senior White House officials said security issues, countering terrorism and efforts to push back against Iran would figure prominently during Pence's trip, which concludes on Tuesday. But the vice president also is expected to face questions about Israel's future. On the embassy, Pence played a steady role in pushing for the shift in U.S. policy. The decision up[...]

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Missouri governor: 'No blackmail,' 'no violence' in affairMissouri Gov. Eric Greitens listens to a question during an interview in his office at the Missouri Capitol on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Jefferson City, Mo. Greitens discussed having an extramarital affair in 2015 before taking office.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:11:00 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In his first interview since acknowledging an extramarital affair, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said Saturday that there was "no blackmail" and "no threat of violence" by him in what he described as a months-long "consensual relationship" with his former hairdresser. Greitens told The Associated Press that he has no plans to resign from office as a result of the affair, despite calls to step aside from several Republican and Democratic state lawmakers. "I'm staying. I'm staying," he said twice for emphasis, adding about his relationship with his wife, staff and supporters: "We're strong." Greitens, 43, has remained out of the public eye since shortly after delivering his State of the State address on Jan. 10. Later that night, St. Louis television station KMOV reported that Greitens had an extramarital affair in 2015 as he was preparing to run for governor. The report included an audio recording of a conversation between a woman and her then-husband — recorded secretly by the husband – in which the woman said Greitens had bound her hands and blindfolded her, taken a photo of her partially nude and warned her to remain silent during an encounter in his St. Louis home. Greitens did not directly say "yes" or "no" when asked Saturday if he had bound and blindfolded and taken a photo of the woman. But he firmly denied that he had attempted to coerce the woman, or that he or anyone associated with him had paid her to be silent. "This was a consensual relationship," Greitens said. "There was no blackmail, there was no violence, there was no threat of violence, there was no threat of blackmail, there was no threat of using a photograph for blackmail. All of those things are false." Greitens added: "The mistake that I made was that I was engaged in a consensual relationship with a woman who was not my wife. That is a mistake for which I am very sorry." The AP has not identified the woman because she has not agreed to an interview. The governor said he has had no other romantic or sexual relationships with anyone else while he's been married. "I made a mistake with one woman," he said. A former Navy SEAL officer, Rhodes Scholar, author and founder of a veterans' charity, Greitens took his first step into politics by opening an exploratory committee for governor in February 2015. The extramarital relationship started around that March and ended that fall, Greitens said without being more specific. He officially announced he was running for governor in September 2015. He told the AP he discussed and resolved the affair with his wife that same year. Greitens emerged the winner in a crowded and expensive GOP primary before defeating the state's attorney general, Democrat Chris Koster, in November 2016 to give Republicans control of the governor's mansion for the first time in eight years. After news of the affair broke this month, an attorney for the ex-husband said his client told him that Greitens had slapped the woman, and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said she was opening a criminal investigation into the various claims about Greitens' actions. Asked Saturday if he had ever slapped the woman, Greitens responded: "Absolutely not." He said he hasn't been contacted by the circuit attorney's office and that neither he nor his attorneys have been contacte[...]

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Schools test approach that lets students learn at own pace

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:11:00 GMT

CHICAGO – High schools across Illinois are testing an approach that allows students to learn at their own pace, a concept introduced decades ago at the University of Chicago in which there are no “F” grades and students choose how to approach mastering a subject.

Ten school districts statewide are implementing the sometimes controversial competency-based learning program, the Chicago Tribune reported. They include Chicago Public Schools and districts in Peoria, Kankakee, East St. Louis and Rantoul.

Rather than the one-size-fits-all approach in many traditional classrooms, competency-based learning puts the responsibility to study and master skills on the students by letting them make their own decisions.

Students turn to peers and online searches for answers before they lean on teachers for help.

The approach, first introduced in the 1960s, has experienced a resurgence decades later around the country as schools have pushed back on time schedules for learning.

“It is a huge discussion in education,” said Susan Center, the director of teaching and learning in the Round Lake district. “Multiple articles talk about grades and what we’re doing and why we are keeping them. It is hard to break a system that is over a century old.”

Illinois has been slower than other states in launching the learning method. The Illinois General Assembly approved implanting competency-based learning pilot programs in 2016.

The 10 pilots were approved by the Illinois State Board of Education in 2017. Districts are in various stages of planning and implementation.

Among the changes from a traditional classroom is that students won’t earn an “F’’ grade, because failing is considered an attempt at learning. Students might not receive report cards with letter grades. Graduates might receive transcripts that show whether a student has mastered various academic standards, rather than a simple GPA.

At Huntley High School, 120 freshmen will start the program this fall. Principal Scott Rowe said he made changes to the program so students will receive a transcript with a GPA, because colleges were concerned about how they would award scholarships without one.

Rowe called it “a major educational innovation” for the school.

“This gives us the opportunity and the ability to allow those students to move at their own pace and work with each individual student differently because they’re in different places,” he said. “That’s scary for teachers and it’s very challenging for us, which is why this initial program is going to only be 120 students, so we can make sure we’re doing it right.”

“Transitioning from traditional high school programming to competency-based programming is a major shift in both policy and day-to-day practice, and thus takes a significant amount of time to plan and implement, and provide professional development for staff and education for parents and students,” said Aviva Bowen, spokeswoman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

Bowen said the transition doesn’t provide funding and that the districts “will need to figure that out.”

Thousands protest Trump at Illinois women's marches

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:11:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Hundreds of thousands of people joined a women's march in downtown Chicago on Saturday, protesting President Donald Trump and his policies and pledging to make their voices heard in this year's elections.

"The message I want to send today is there's power in numbers," said Melanie Moore, 30, of Chicago. "There's power in women fighting for everyone that didn't think they had a voice, and when we do come together it's a truly beautiful sort of thing."

The Chicago event was among hundreds held across the U.S. as Trump marked the end of his first year in office. Organizers estimated more people turned out than the 250,000 who attended the 2017 event in Chicago the day after Trump's inauguration. City officials didn't provide a crowd estimate.

Organizers called this year's gatherings a "march to the polls," part of a national effort to mobilize women ahead of the 2018 elections. Events were planned in other Illinois communities, including East Peoria, Rockford and the Quad Cities.

Beth Valente of Chicago, who teaches immigrants, said her students have been "vilified" by Trump and "their president should not make them feel unsafe." Nadja Millare said she's fighting for reproductive rights that are being "chipped away" by Trump and the GOP.

Joelle Pyle carried a sign that read "Make America Kind Again." She said if people aren't angry about what's happening "you aren't paying attention."

Pyle said she was encouraged by Saturday's turnout, as well as by results in recent elections, such as the U.S. Senate race in Alabama where a Democrat defeated a Trump-backed candidate.

"I think the tide is turning and people are going to fix this," she said.

Trump took to Twitter on Saturday, saying it was the perfect day for women to "celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months."

Democrats, GOP try to dodge blame for shuttered governmentSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the chamber Saturday at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on the first morning of a government shutdown after a divided Senate rejected a funding measure Friday night.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:11:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Hours after shuttering much of the federal government, feuding Democrats and Republicans in Congress spent Saturday dodging blame for a paralyzing standoff over immigration and showed few signs of progress on negotiations needed to end it. The finger-pointing played out in rare weekend proceedings in both the House and Senate, where lawmakers were eager to show voters they were actively working for a solution – or at least actively making their case why the other party was at fault. The scene highlighted the high political stakes for both parties in an election-year shutdown whose consequences were far from clear. “The American people cannot begin to understand why the Senate Democratic leader thinks the entire government should be shut down until he gets his way on illegal immigration,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hours after a last-chance Senate vote failed. Democrats refused to provide the votes needed to reopen the government until they strike a deal with President Donald Trump protecting young immigrants from deportation, providing disaster relief and boosting spending for opioid treatment and other domestic programs. Democrats feel “very, very strongly about the issues” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, adding that he believes “the American people are on our side.” The fighting followed a late-night vote in which Senate Democrats blocked a House-passed measure that would have kept agencies functioning for four weeks. Republicans began the day hopeful they might pick off Democratic support for a three-week version and bring the episode to a quick end. Democrats are insisting on an alternative lasting only several days – which they think would pressure Republicans to cut an immigration deal – and say they’ll kill the three-week version when the Senate votes on it by early Monday. The shutdown came on the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration. As lawmakers bickered in the Capitol, protesters marched outside in a reprise of the women’s march from a year ago. The president remained out of sight and canceled plans to travel to his resort in Florida for the weekend. He did tweet, making light of the timing by saying Democrats “wanted to give me a nice present” to mark the start of his second year in office. Trump worked the phones, staying in touch with McConnell, while White House legislative affairs director Marc Short and budget chief Mick Mulvaney met at the Capitol with House Republicans. GOP lawmakers voiced support for the White House stance of not negotiating while the government was shuttered. Tempers were short and theatrics high. Lawmakers bickered over blame, hypocrisy and even the posters brought to the House floor. While neither chamber voted on a measure to open the government, the House did vote on whether a poster displayed by Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama violated the House rules on decorum. The House voted to allow the poster, which bore a photo of Schumer and the quote “the politics of idiocy.” While Republicans blamed the breakdown on Schumer, Democrats increasingly focused their messaging on criticizing Trump, whose popularity is dismal. Democrats were using his zigzagging stance in immigration talks – first encouraging deals, then rejecting them – to underscore his first, chaotic year in office. [...]

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McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally launches investigation into local townshipsMcHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally (left) discusses a case with Assistant State's Attorney Kyle Bruett on Friday at the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock. Kenneally is investigating spending in two McHenry County townships amid broader scrutiny of township government.McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally leaves the grand jury room at the McHenry County Courthouse on Friday. Kenneally is investigating financial records in two McHenry County townships amid broader scrutiny of township government.McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally meets with the chief of the Criminal Division, John Gibbons, on Friday in his Woodstock office. Kenneally is investigating spending in two McHenry County townships amid broader scrutiny of township government.McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally (left) talks with criminal investigator Bob Diviacchi as he prepares a list of subpoenas Friday at his office in Woodstock.McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally talks with chief investigator Laura Kin on Friday in Woodstock. Kenneally is investigating spending in two McHenry County townships amid broader scrutiny of township government.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:10:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Top prosecutor Patrick Kenneally is combing the books of two McHenry County townships to glean whether officials spent taxpayer money in accordance with the law. The McHenry County state’s attorney would not comment on the scope of his exploration or what his office has discovered to date – but records show that Kenneally’s office has requested financial documents from both Nunda and Grafton townships, where officials have burned close to 100 hours and reams of paper to respond. Assistant State’s Attorney Jana Blake Dickson sent Freedom of Information Act requests to Nunda Township and Grafton Township officials asking for financial records from 2013 to 2017 including: “... any and all documents relating to the procurement of goods and services by the township, including the highway district and road commissioner, and any and all documents related to the expenditure of township or highway funds for any purpose other than payroll or funds expended under the township’s public assistance program ...” The assistant state’s attorney shared the intentions behind the request: “We intend to review these records to ensure that all financial transactions are lawful and strictly for the purposes of conducting township business.” This investigation comes at a time when townships are under much scrutiny from taxpayers and state lawmakers who are filing legislation to abolish the controversial form of government they call corrupt and wasteful – while proponents contend it is the most local and responsive form of government residents have. ‘It doesn’t make sense to me’ Kenneally’s request puzzled Grafton Township Supervisor Eric Ruth. “What are they doing? I don’t know,” Ruth said. “They didn’t tell us, and to be honest, I didn’t ask.” Ruth and township staff responded instead – a task that took more than 40 hours and a banker’s box full of documents to complete. In Nunda Township, officials also spent 40 hours and used reams of paper to answer the inquiry. “It doesn’t make sense to me, but I don’t know what they’re using the information for,” Nunda Township Supervisor Lee Jennings said. Jennings said the request disturbed him because of how much time it takes his small staff to fulfill. Those feelings surfaced again Jan. 12, when Kenneally’s office sent a second records request asking for more documents. “This one might be even bigger,” Jennings said. The most recent request asks for more specific documents, including ledger reports, “receipts for all receipts,” financial statements, budget reports, payroll registers, employee earnings reports and W-2 statements spanning from April 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2017. The latest request offered the same explanation: “We intend to review these records to ensure that all financial transactions are lawful and strictly for the purposes of conducting township business.” As of Friday night, Grafton Township officials did not receive a second records request. Grafton Township has been the center of public scrutiny in the past. Political infighting led to $7[...]

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Huntley leaders highlight growth at annual state of village eventVillage Manager Dave Johnson speaks at the state of the village event Thursday.Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sunday Graham speaks at the state of the village event Thursday.Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sunday Graham presents Huntley School District 158 Superintendent John Burkey with a certificate of appreciation for his time with the district.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 05:38:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – Officials gave updates to Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce members Thursday on growth in the village, the school district, the fire district and more during the state of the village event. Since 2011, Huntley has added 2,200 jobs and about 900 businesses registered in the community, Village Manager Dave Johnson said at the event, which was held at Huntley High School. Property values are up as well. Huntley has seen a 32 percent increase in its equalized assessed value, Johnson said. “I’ve worked for Crystal Lake way back in the day, so for me to see Huntley in the third rank in terms of overall value of land [in McHenry County], that’s pretty exciting, and it’s going to go nowhere but up,” Johnson said. About $1.3 billion has been sold in retail goods and services in the past five years in Huntley, Johnson said. “We’ve seen a 32 percent increase from 2013 to 2017, so those numbers continue to go up, and it shows our economy is doing well,” Johnson said. When looking at the former Huntley Outlet Center, Johnson said, the village does not yet have any plans for redevelopment, but it encourages new businesses to relocate there. Owners of the former Huntley Outlet Center submitted applications to rezone the lot into office and industrial space, but Johnson previously said village staff hope to look at other options before making any decisions. Village staff are working to recruit new businesses to the area, and they made 600 contacts in 2017, including restaurants, anchor stores, hotels, automobile dealerships and tenants for the former Catty Corp. property. “We’ve thrown some pretty big numbers incentive-wise to kick off a gas station, but we’re still chasing. We’re working on it,” Johnson said. The village bought the Catty Corp. site as part of an effort to revitalize the downtown area, and it has reached out to 20 breweries and 19 developers so far. Huntley doesn’t have enough vacant spaces to meet the business demand, Johnson said, and building new spaces is expensive. “It’s a long race. I wish it was as easy as snapping our fingers and getting someone to build a new building,” Johnson said. “One of the challenges is, besides the outlet mall, we don’t have a lot of vacant space. The challenge we have is the lack of space ... and if we build new, it’s extremely costly.” New businesses coming Jewel-Osco has announced plans to renovate its existing store on the south side of the village and build a 62,000-square-foot store at Reed Road and Route 47, investing $18 million into the community. Panera Bread, Panda Express, Verizon Wireless and O’Reilly Auto Parts also will be joining Huntley. General RV is planning an expansion with space that formerly was part of the Huntley Outlet Center. Resort Lifestyle Community is constructing Huntley Springs Retirement Community on a 9.6-acre site on Powers Road. “For people looking to invest here, it’s extremely important to see activity on the east side so companies driving through here don’t go, ‘There’s a lot of cows out there still,’ ” Johnson said. [...]

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McHenry County residents search for eagles along the Fox RiverCharlotte Heaphy, 8, Huntley looks for eagles with her grandfather, Eric Tannhauser of Lake in the Hills, on Saturday at the Algonquin Dam.Jane Seitz of the Illinois Raptor Center presents Kenny, a bald eagle, to a group gathered Saturday to learn about bald eagles at the Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake.Emily Porreca, 9, of Spring Grove uses binoculars to view birds at William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock and Dam in McHenry. Emily is a self-proclaimed raptor fan and was hoping to spot an eagle.Anandhi Ramalingam (left) of Vernon Hills and Lisa Maier of Holiday Hills watch for eagles at the William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock and Dam on the Fox River in McHenry.Mary Corrado of Crystal Lake looks for eagles at the William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock and Dam on the Fox River in McHenry.Jacques Nuzzo and Jane Seitz of the Illinois Raptor Center show off Phoenix, a golden eagle, Saturday at the Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake.Jane Seitz of the Illinois Raptor Center presents Kenny, a bald eagle, to a group gathered Saturday to learn about bald eagles at the Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 05:37:00 GMT

McHenry County residents joined the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, McHenry County Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge from 8 to 10 a.m. at numerous locations along the Fox River and Geneva Lake to help participants search for eagles Saturday.

Volunteers and wildlife staff provided spotting scopes and binoculars, and they helped identify birds in the areas near the McHenry, Algonquin and Carpentersville dams and at Fontana Beach on Geneva Lake in Wisconsin.

Charlotte Heaphy, 8, Huntley looks for eagles with her grandfather, Eric Tannhauser of Lake in the Hills, on Saturday at the Algonquin Dam.Jane Seitz of the Illinois Raptor Center presents Kenny, a bald eagle, to a group gathered Saturday to learn about bald eagles at the Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake.Emily Porreca, 9, of Spring Grove uses binoculars to view birds at William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock and Dam in McHenry. Emily is a self-proclaimed raptor fan and was hoping to spot an eagle.Anandhi Ramalingam (left) of Vernon Hills and Lisa Maier of Holiday Hills watch for eagles at the William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock and Dam on the Fox River in McHenry.Mary Corrado of Crystal Lake looks for eagles at the William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock and Dam on the Fox River in McHenry.Jacques Nuzzo and Jane Seitz of the Illinois Raptor Center show off Phoenix, a golden eagle, Saturday at the Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake.Jane Seitz of the Illinois Raptor Center presents Kenny, a bald eagle, to a group gathered Saturday to learn about bald eagles at the Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake.

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Signs of government shutdown spotty but symbolicVisitors to the Statue of Liberty take photos Saturday from aboard a ferry that cruised the bay around the statue and Ellis Island in New York. The National Park Service announced that the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island would be closed Saturday "due to a lapse in appropriations."

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 05:36:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Symbols of American promise became emblems of American dysfunction on Saturday when a dispute in Congress over spending and immigration forced scores of federal government agencies and outposts to close their doors. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island turned away visitors in New York because of what the National Park Service described as “a lapse in appropriations,” a bureaucratic term for a lack of money. In Philadelphia, crowds of tourists were told Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, and the Liberty Bell were closed. The shuttered icons were some of the easiest-to-spot impacts of the partial government closure. Funds ran out at midnight Friday, leaving 48 hours before the most dramatic effect – the furloughing of nearly a million federal employees – goes into effect. As in shutdowns past, federal services were carved into two categories – essential and nonessential – with the former set to carry on as normal. In that category, the mail will be delivered and Social Security checks still go out, the air traffic control system stays up and running, as do the FBI, Customs and Border Protection and veterans hospitals. Still, there were plenty of inconveniences to irk American taxpayers. While active-duty troops will stay at their posts during a shutdown, people stationed overseas were touched by the political fallout almost immediately. The American Forces Network, which broadcasts American radio and television programming in Europe and other locations outside the U.S., put a message on its Facebook page that said its services would not be available “due to the government shutdown.” The notice sparked a series of angry reactions from viewers, with several noting that the timing couldn’t have been worse: The NFL conference championships will be played Sunday. “During NFL PLAYOFFS?!” one post read. “AFN, start a GoFundMe & broadcast these games! Make it happen!” Yet congressional Republicans and Democrats appeared no closer Saturday to settling their differences over immigration policy and striking an agreement to fund the government. The longer the shutdown lasts, the worse the effects will be. Almost half the 2 million civilian federal workers will be barred from doing their jobs if the shutdown extends into Monday. That’ll put on hold a swath of government functions, from the processing of new veterans benefits claims to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s support for the government’s annual seasonal flu program. At the Internal Revenue Service, more than half of the 80,565 employees will be barred from working just as tax filing season is beginning and the agency is dealing with the sweeping changes made by the new GOP tax law. Until then, much of the immediate fallout was in Washington, where lawmakers carried out the part of jobs that involve assigning blame. There were few signs of shutdown at the Capitol, where lawmakers spent most of the day making speeches about the dispute. A women’s march carried on as planned, under the eye of U.S. Park Police protection. Vice President Mike Pence did not reschedule a visit to the Middle East, the administration labeling the trip “integral” to U.S. national security and diplomacy. [...]

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Huntley High School cancels some after-school activities after bullets found at schoolPolice vehicles from Huntley and the Illinois State Police are parked at the main entrance to Huntley High School on Friday after a student found bullets in a hallway. The school was placed on lockdown. Huntley Deputy Police Chief Michael Klunk said police were talking to students and reviewing security video footage to determine where the bullets came from.A Huntley police officer arrives Friday at Huntley High School after a student found bullets in a hallway. The campus was put on lockdown. Huntley Deputy Police Chief Michael Klunk said police were talking to students and reviewing security video footage to determine where the bullets came from.Signs alerting visitors to the lockdown were posted on windows at the main entrance of Huntley High School. Leggee Elementary School, located just northwest of the high school, was also placed on soft lockdown as a precaution.Police vehicles from Huntley and the Illinois State Police are parked at the main entrance to Huntley High School on Friday after a student found bullets in a hallway. The school was placed on lockdown. Huntley Deputy Police Chief Michael Klunk said police were talking to students and reviewing security video footage to determine where the bullets came from.

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:39:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – Some after-school activities at Huntley High School were canceled Friday as police continued to search the building after the discovery of bullets in a school hallway. Police had completed the search as of Friday afternoon. Activities scheduled before 5:30 p.m. were canceled but activities after 5:30 p.m. were set to be held, Huntley Deputy Police Chief Michael Klunk said about 4:30 p.m. Friday. A police officer would be on-site at the school during activities “out of an abundance of caution,” Principal Scott Rowe said in a notice to parents. Officials put the school on lockdown after a student found two 9 mm bullets in the hallway outside the College and Careers office Friday morning. Klunk said police on the scene, 13719 Harmony Road, talked to students and reviewed security video footage to determine where the bullets came from. Police had completed an initial room-by-room search with K-9 units by Friday afternoon. Klunk said no additional bullets or causes for concern were discovered during the search. “We still have to review more video and talk to a few more students,” he said. “But at this point everything can pretty much go back to normal.” Students weren’t allowed to move between classrooms. No one was allowed to come into or go out of the building during the investigation during school hours. There is no known danger for students or the surrounding area, Klunk said. Leggee Elementary School, located just northwest of the high school, also was put on soft lockdown as a precaution, said Dan Armstrong, director of communications for Huntley School District 158. The lockdown was lifted and students were dismissed on schedule Friday afternoon, according to a notice from the district. Several cars waited outside the high school in attempt to pick up students inside during the incident. Huntley High School parent Laura Dour said she had dropped her daughter off at school five minutes before the lockdown, which is why she was at the school. “They are going to be in these classrooms the rest of the day,” Dour said. “I’m not worried. I’ve been watching the cops and they are walking pretty calm, and the kids know what is going on. It’s more just [waiting out] the investigation.” Kara Calder said she experienced a similar situation. She had been scheduled to pick up her sister for a blended class, but the lockdown was in place when she arrived. “I feel like they have it somewhat under control,” Calder said. “[My sisters] have been texting me. … They just keep saying it’s going to be an all-day thing and the only way they are going to release people is if they do it one by one and search everyone.” It’s not the first time in recent months local police and the district have had to work together. A Marlowe Middle School student was charged with a hate crime and disorderly conduct in October after posting a threatening video on social media. Another case of racially motivated threats toward a District 158 student was investigated by Huntley police in November. [...]

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Women to march with aim to become a political forceAP photo Jeri Burton makes a sign Jan. 17 in preparation for a rally in Las Vegas.

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:38:00 GMT

A year after more than 1 million people rallied at women’s marches worldwide with a message of female empowerment and protest against President Donald Trump, activists will return to the streets this weekend in hopes of converting anger and enthusiasm into political force. The 2017 rally in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of similar marches created solidarity for those denouncing Trump’s views on abortion, immigration, LGBT rights and more. Since then, a wave of women decided to run for elected office and the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct became a cultural phenomenon. “We made a lot of noise,” said Elaine Wynn, an organizer. “But now how do we translate that noise into something concrete or fulfilling?” Along with hundreds of gatherings Saturday and Sunday across the U.S. and in places such as Beijing, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Nairobi, Kenya, a rally Sunday in Las Vegas will launch an effort to register 1 million voters and target swing states in the midterm elections. Linda Sarsour, one of the four organizers of last year’s Washington march, said Las Vegas was targeted for a major rally because it’s a strategic swing state that gave Hillary Clinton a narrow win in the presidential election and will have one of the most competitive Senate races in 2018. Democrats believe they have a good chance of winning the seat held by embattled Republican Sen. Dean Heller and weakening the GOP’s hold on the chamber. Wynn, president of the Nevada State Board of Education and former wife of casino mogul Steve Wynn, said women make up half of the state’s congressional delegation, including Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, who became the first Latina in the U.S. Senate in 2016. Nevada also has one of the highest percentages of female state lawmakers in the country, and women are mayors of its three largest cities. Organizers say Nevada is also a microcosm of larger national issues like immigration, as well as the debate over gun control after the deadliest mass shooting in modern history. Following the October massacre, the rally will be held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ stadium 10 miles southeast of the famous Strip where a gunman opened fire onto a concert, killing 58 people. Authorities have kept details confidential about security at the 40,000-seat stadium. Minnie Wood, a nurse practitioner who participated in the 2017 gathering in Las Vegas, said she was left with a sense of solidarity and “this feeling of almost a quickening, this resistance brewing.” It also laid the groundwork for the recent movement that brought a reckoning for powerful men accused of sexual misconduct, Sarsour said. “I think when women see visible women’s leadership, bold and fierce, going up against a very racist, sexist, misogynist administration, it gives you a different level of courage that you may not have felt you had,” she said. Many women inspired by last year’s massive marches have sought higher office, such as Mindi Messmer, a 54-year-old environmental scientist from Rye, New Hampshire. Messmer was a state legislator when she attended the 2017 march in her [...]

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Border wall models thwart U.S. commandos in testsAP file photo Prototypes of border walls are seen Oct. 26 in San Diego. Rigorous testing of prototypes of President Donald.

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:37:00 GMT

SAN DIEGO – Recent assaults by tactical teams on prototypes of President Donald Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico indicate their imposing heights should stop border crossers, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the rigorous assessment told The Associated Press. Military special forces based in Florida and U.S. Customs and Border Protection special units spent three weeks trying to breach and scale the eight models in San Diego, using jackhammers, saws, torches and other tools and climbing devices, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not authorized for public release. A Customs and Border Protection report on the tests identifies strengths and flaws of each design but does not pick an overall winner or rank them, although it does point to see-through steel barriers topped by concrete as the best overall design, the official said. The report recommends combining elements of each, depending on the terrain. The official likened it to a Lego design, pulling pieces from different prototypes. Carlos Diaz, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, said the agency is still in “the testing phase” and that results are being evaluated. He said combining elements of different prototypes instead of picking a winner is consistent with previous statements by officials. He noted that the agency said in its bidding guidelines that a minimum height of 18 feet would be a key characteristic. He said he did not have additional details on test results. Contractors were awarded between $300,000 and $500,000 for each prototype. Prototypes were built last fall to guide future construction of one of Trump’s signature campaign pledges. Four were concrete and four were made of other materials. Ronald Vitiello, the agency’s acting deputy commissioner, said after visiting the prototypes in October that he was struck most by the 30-foot heights, which are significantly higher than existing barriers. Taller barriers are undoubtedly more effective, but whether the cost is justified will be up for debate. The highly trained testers scaled 16 to 20 feet unassisted but needed help after that, said the official who described the assaults on the wall prototypes to the AP. Testers also expressed safety concerns about getting down from 30 feet. Only once did a tester manage to land a hook on top of the wall without help, the official said. Tubes atop some models repelled climbing devices but wouldn’t work in more mountainous areas because the terrain is too jagged. The report favors steel at ground level because agents can see what is happening on the other side and holes can more easily be patched, the official said. With concrete, large slabs have to be replaced for even small breaches, which is time-consuming and expensive. Topping the steel with smooth concrete surfaces helps prevent climbing. Customs and Border Protection leaders were scheduled to be briefed on the findings this week amid intensifying discussions between the White House and Congress on immigration legislation to avert a government shutdown and renew protection for about 800,000 young immigrants who were temporarily shielded from deportation under an Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Chi[...]

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Vegas gunman studied SWAT tactics, music siteAP photo The view of foyer of room 32-135 towards a sitting area of the interior of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock's 32nd floor room of the Mandalay Bay hotel is seen in October in Las Vegas.

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:37:00 GMT

LAS VEGAS – The Las Vegas gunman meticulously planned the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, researching SWAT tactics, renting other hotel rooms overlooking outdoor concerts and investigating potential targets in at least four cities, authorities said Friday. But almost four months after Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded more than 800 others with a barrage of bullets from the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel, investigators still have not answered the key question: Why did he do it? Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo released a preliminary report on the Oct. 1 attack and said he did not expect criminal charges to be filed against Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who had been called the only person of interest in the case. Investigators believe Paddock acted alone, and he did not leave a suicide note or manifesto. Paddock, who killed himself before police reached him, told friends and relatives that he always felt ill, in pain and fatigued, authorities said. His doctor thought he may have had bipolar disorder but told police that Paddock refused to discuss the possibility, the report said. The doctor offered him antidepressants, but Paddock accepted only a prescription for anxiety medication. He was fearful of medication and often refused to take it, the doctor told investigators. During an interview with authorities, Paddock’s girlfriend said he had become “distant” in the year before the shooting and their relationship was no longer intimate. When they stayed at the Mandalay Bay together in September 2017, Paddock acted strangely, she told investigators. She remembered him constantly looking out the windows overlooking an area where the concert would be held the next month. He moved from window to window to see the site from different angles, the report said. She described him as “germaphobic” and said he had strong reactions to smells. The 64-year-old retired accountant was a high-stakes gambler and real estate investor. He had lost a “significant amount of wealth” since September 2015, which led to “bouts of depression,” the sheriff has said. But Paddock had paid off his gambling debts before the shooting, according to the report. Prior to the attack, Paddock’s online searches included research into SWAT tactics and consideration of other potential public targets, including in Chicago, Boston and Santa Monica, California, the sheriff said. His research also sought the number of attendees at other concerts in Las Vegas and the size of the crowds at Santa Monica’s beach. Among his searches was “do police use explosives,” the report said. Four laptops and three cellphones were found inside his hotel suite. On one of the computers, investigators found hundreds of photos of child pornography. The same computer was used to search for the height of the Mandalay Bay, how to remove hard drives from laptops, the location of gun shows in Nevada and information about several other Las Vegas casinos. Paddock’s brother, Daniel Paddock, was arrested in Los Angeles in October in an unrelated child p[...]

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Trump bends, but doesn’t break, ways of Washington in year 1AP file photo President Donald Trump sits at his desk after a meeting with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich (left), and members of his staff in the Oval Office of the White House in 2017 in Washington.

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:37:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – In his first year in office, President Donald Trump has frequently bent Washington to his will, shattering long-standing norms, plunging politics to a new level of corrosiveness and wielding his executive power to start rolling back his predecessor’s policies on the environment, education and America’s role around the world. But at times, Trump’s Washington can also look strikingly similar to the era before presidential directives were delivered by tweet. Hyperpartisanship and legislative gridlock still reigns. Many of the same issues that bedeviled previous presidents now sit unresolved on Trump’s desk, including North Korea’s nuclear threats and the fate of millions of people living in the U.S. illegally. And rather than draining the “swamp” – Trump’s term for Washington’s medley of lobbyists, special interest groups and high-dollar donors – several of the president’s allies are diving in to share in the riches. “If you stop and look back at his first year, it’s been two tales,” said Sara Fagen, who served as White House political director for President George W. Bush. That paradox positions Trump on the anniversary of his inauguration as both a transformational figure and a temporary captain of a ship too large to turn quickly. He commands Washington and the world’s attention, but has struggled to use his bully pulpit to win support for his policies or bolster his standing with Americans, who overwhelmingly disapprove of his time in office. He’s waged unprecedented battles with his own party’s congressional leaders and the courts, but expressed deep frustration to friends and advisers about the way both branches of government can curtail a presidency that he believed would hold more unilateral power. “There are some basic institutions and a basic culture in Washington that no one person can change,” said Charlie Black, a longtime Republican operative. White House officials and other Trump advisers say the president has succeeded during his first year in office in challenging the status quo in Washington, from pulling out of a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade pact that had support in both parties to declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel over the objections of national security advisers and overseas allies. Trump allies blame setbacks over the past 12 months not on the president, but on lawmakers – including Republicans – who aren’t yet willing to follow his lead. “As the president used to say on the trail, politicians are all talk, no action,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign adviser. “He’s inherited a Republican Party that doesn’t know how to govern.” Trump’s most glaring struggle to reshape the capital has come in his dealings with Congress, an institution that remains as polarized as it was the day he took office. Despite having Republican control of both chambers, Trump signed just one major piece of legislation during his first year in office – a sweeping tax overhaul that passed in December on GOP votes alone. In the opening weeks of 2018, lawmakers are grinding through a process that became all too familiar during the Obama administration: A strug[...]

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Pope to indigenous: Amazon is ‘heart of the church’AP photo Flanked by Bishop David Martinez and Father Bruco Cadore, Pope Francis speaks to indigenous groups Friday in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Standing with thousands of indigenous Peruvians, Francis declared the Amazon the "heart of the church" and called for a three-fold defense of its life, land and cultures.

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:37:00 GMT

PUERTO MALDONADO, Peru – From deep in the scorching Amazon rainforest, Pope Francis demanded Friday that corporations stop their relentless extraction of timber, gas and gold from God’s “holy ground,” and called on governments to recognize the indigenous peoples living there as the primary forces in determining its future. Bare-chested and tattooed native families, many sporting feathered and beaded headgear, interrupted Francis repeatedly with applause, wailing horns and beating drums as history’s first Latin American pope declared the Amazon and its indigenous peoples the “heart of the church.” In the highlight of his weeklong trip to Chile and Peru, Francis warned that the Amazon people are now more threatened than ever before, and called for a three-fold defense of their life, their land and their cultures. “You are a living memory of the mission that God has entrusted to us all: the protection of our common home,” the pope said. Francis traveled to the steamy city of Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to Peru’s Amazon, before even calling on President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a protocol-bending change to the itinerary undertaken because of weather concerns that had the unintended effect of signaling that the Amazon natives were Francis’ top priority in Peru. Francis did meet later with Kucyznski in the presidential palace in Lima, where he blasted corruption as a “social virus” that must be stopped – a charged comment given the Peruvian president is under investigation in Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal. Francis’ trip to the Amazon came as the expansion of illegal gold mining, new roads, dams and farming have all turned thousands of acres of once lush green forest into barren, contaminated wastelands. In his landmark 2015 encyclical, “Praise Be,” Francis demanded world leaders do more to protect what he called “one of the lungs” of God’s creation, and denounced the profit-at-all-cost business interests behind its steady demise. The issue is so important to the Argentine pope that he has called a global church meeting next year on the Amazon and its native peoples. Friday’s encounter served in many ways as an unofficial opening to the synod, giving the native peoples themselves the floor. “The sky is angry and is crying because we are destroying the planet,” Hector Sueyo, a member of the indigenous Harakbut people, told the pope in between performances of traditional songs and dance in a stadium in Puerto Maldonado. Yesica Patiachi, also Harakbut, told Francis that loggers, oil workers and gold diggers all come to their lands to take the resources without even consulting with the indigenous people whose ancestors have lived there for centuries, cutting their trees, killing their fish and polluting their rivers with runoff that turns them into “black waters of death.” “We ask you to defend us,” she said to applause. Answering the call, Francis condemned big businesses that want to “lay their hands on” the Amazon’s riches. But he also criticized conservation efforts [...]

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U.S. government shuts down; Dems, GOP blame each otherSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, as a bitterly-divided Congress hurtles toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being deported. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:36:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunction. Last-minute negotiations crumbled as Senate Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap extension in a late-night vote, causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter century. The slide toward closure lacked for high drama: The Senate vote was all but predetermined, and since the shutdown began at the start of a weekend, many of the immediate effects will be muted for most Americans. Still, it comes with no shortage of embarrassment for the president and political risk for both parties, as they wager that voters will punish the other at the ballot box in November. Social Security and most other safety net programs are unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions will continue, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay. But if no deal is brokered before Monday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed. After hours of closed-door meetings and phone calls, the Senate scheduled its late-night vote on a House-passed plan. It gained 50 votes to proceed to 48 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster. A handful of red-state Democrats crossing the aisle to support the measure, rather than take the politically-risky vote. Four Republicans voted in opposition. In an unusual move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed the roll call to exceed 90 minutes – instead of the usual 20 or so – seemingly accommodating the numerous discussions among leaders and other lawmakers. Still as midnight passed and the calendar turned, there was no obvious off-ramp to the political stalemate. Each party expressed resolve in its position – and confidence that the other would suffer the wrath of voters. Even before the vote, Trump was pessimistic, tweeting, “Not looking good” and blaming the Democrats who he said actually wanted the shutdown “to help diminish the success” of the tax bill he and fellow Republicans pushed through last month. Democrats balked on the measure in an effort to pressure on the White House to cut a deal to protect “dreamer” immigrants – who were brought to the country as children and are now here illegally – before their legal protection runs out in March. The president watched the results from the White House residence, dialing up allies and affirming his belief that Democrats would take the blame for the shutdown, said a person familiar with his conversations but not authorized to discuss them publicly. Predictably, both parties moved swiftly to blame one another. Democrats laid fault with Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House and have struggled with building internal consensus. Republicans declared Democrats responsible, after they declined to provide the votes needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate over[...]

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Prosecutors to seek death penalty in scholar caseAP file photo Brendt Christensen is seen in a photo provided by the Macon County Sheriff's Office in Decatur, Ill. U.S. prosecutors told a judge Friday, Jan 19, 2018, that they will seek the death penalty for the 28-year-old man charged with the kidnapping and killing of a University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang from China, also broaching new allegations that he choked and sexually assaulted someone five years ago.

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:35:00 GMT

CHICAGO – U.S. prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a former physics student charged with the kidnapping and killing of a University of Illinois scholar from China, they told a judge in a Friday filing that also made a new allegation that the 28-year-old suspect once choked and sexually assaulted someone else years ago. The filing in U.S. District Court in central Illinois provides several reasons for why the death penalty is called for in Brendt Christensen’s case, including because he allegedly tortured 26-year-old Yingying Zhang before killing her. It didn’t say how. The new allegation is that Christensen “choked and sexually assaulted” someone referred to only by the initials “M.D.” in 2013 in central Illinois. He has not been charged in that alleged assault. Christensen also once expressed his aspiration “to be known as a killer,” the filing said. Zhang disappeared June 9 on her way to sign an apartment lease off campus in Urbana, some 140 miles southwest of Chicago. She had arrived on campus in April and had just missed a bus when Christensen lured her into his car, prosecutors said. They also said Zhang is dead, though her body hasn’t been found. Christensen, who earned a master’s degree in physics from the University of Illinois, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping resulting in death. His trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 27, though his attorneys have said previously they would need more time to prepare, especially if the government intended to seek the death penalty. Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011, years after then-Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions, citing doubts about the guilt of several of those on death row. Although capital punishment is available under federal law, prosecutors typically seek it in cases involving terrorism or multiple deaths. Among other factors Friday’s five-page filing said justifies the death penalty was the “heinous, cruel, or depraved manner” of the crime and that it involved “planning and premeditation,” as well as what the document says is Christensen’s “lack of remorse.” “The victim was particularly vulnerable due to her small stature and limited ability to communicate in English,” the filing said. A message seeking comment from Christensen’s attorney, Robert Tucker, wasn’t immediately returned. Zhang, who received her master’s degree in environmental engineering in China in 2016, had hoped to eventually land a professorship and help her family in China out financially. Her father, a sometime-semitrailer driver, traveled from China to Illinois in June for the search. Her disappearance prompted a massive search that drew international media attention, particularly from China. Other disturbing details in the case emerged after Christensen’s arrest last year. Months before Zhang went missing, his phone was used to visit the website, including to view threads titled “Perfect abduction fantasy” and “planning a[...]

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Coroner identifies Rockford woman killed Wednesday in crash near Union

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:34:00 GMT

UNION – The McHenry County coroner has identified a Rockford woman killed in a Wednesday night crash.

The crash occurred about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday in the 17000 block of Route 176, about a half-mile east of North Union Road near Union. It was one of two fatal crashes that occurred overnight in McHenry County.

Sarah E. Wells, 27, of Rockford died of blunt trauma to the head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis, McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski said.

Union Fire, Marengo Rescue and the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. Wells was driving west in a 2005 Honda Civic when she crossed the center line and hit a 2007 Jeep Cherokee, police said.

The Marengo man driving the Jeep was critically injured in the crash and taken to Centegra Hospital – Huntley and later transported to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. His condition was not known Friday afternoon by Majewski’s office.

Cellphone use is suspected as a contributing factor, according to police, and the crash remains under investigation.

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Algonquin woman fractures ankle at track meet, sues District 155, Diocese of Rockford

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:34:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – An Algonquin woman who said she was permanently injured after she tripped and fell in a foot-deep hole at a local track meet is moving forward with a lawsuit against Community High School District 155 for allowing the property to fall into disarray, according to a lawsuit.

Rose Zaffina filed an amended complaint in the case last week. Her lawsuit, first filed in May, also names the Diocese of Rockford, which is associated with the Catholic school St. Thomas the Apostle that hosted the sporting event at District 155’s Prairie Ridge High School.

On May 7, 2016, Zaffina went to the school at 6000 Dvorak Drive, Crystal Lake, to watch her son compete. While walking down a hill in a field that surrounds the school’s football field and track, Zaffina tripped and fell into a hole that was about a foot deep, the suit states. The fall fractured Zaffina’s ankle, requiring her to get surgery. Now she’s seeking at least $50,000 in damages. The public school district’s attorneys said the school isn’t responsible for the woman’s injuries.

The suit accuses District 155 of neglecting the field and allowing it to become overgrown with grass and weeds that concealed about 15 holes.

“… prior to May 7, 2016, as a result of constant use and degradation from the weather, numerous holes were created throughout the grassy hills,” the suit stated.

Zaffina’s attorney, Martin Gould, could not be reached for comment.

Both District 155 and the Diocese of Rockford have asked McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer to dismiss the lawsuit.

The district has said school officials aren’t responsible for any injuries that happen on “recreational” property, citing an Illinois law that offers some protections to public property.

Attorney Babak Bakhtiari, who is representing District 155, declined to comment on the pending case.

Representatives from the Diocese of Rockford could not be reached for comment Friday.

Zaffina claims the district, the Catholic school and the Diocese of Rockford knew or should have known about the dangers. The suit claims at least one person was seriously injured after tripping and falling on the hill a year or two before the track meet Zaffina attended and that maintenance crews had reported the hills were “steep” and “dangerous.”

She also accused the district of not having in place any policies to make sure that people visiting the football field area were safe.

The lawsuit accuses District 155 of negligence and willful and wanton conduct. It claims the Catholic school and the Diocese of Rockford also were negligent.

District 155 is required to file a response to Zaffina’s complaint by Feb. 2, according to a judge’s order.

The case is scheduled to resume Feb. 15.

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Road conditions may have been a factor in fatal head-on crash near Hebron

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 05:34:00 GMT

HEBRON – The McHenry County coroner has identified a Woodstock woman who was killed in a head-on crash Thursday when the driver of the vehicle reportedly lost control on a patch of snow on Route 173 near Hebron.

Silvia Ortiz-Ayala, 44, of Woodstock died of blunt trauma to the spine, chest and abdomen at Harvard Mercy Medical Center after a crash in the 9800 block of Route 173 east of Hebron, according to a news release from McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski.

The crash was the second fatal crash in McHenry County in a three-hour period and sent two other people to the hospital.

The two-vehicle crash occurred about 12:20 a.m. Thursday when a 20-year-old Woodstock woman driving a 2004 Mazda Tribute east on Route 173 hit a patch of snow and lost control of the car, according to the release. Ortiz-Ayala was in the front passenger seat of the Mazda.

The Mazda crossed the center line and struck a 2010 Dodge Journey heading west on Route 173. The 56-year-old Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, woman driving the Dodge Journey was taken to a local hospital.

Majewski said her office did not know the condition of the drivers involved.

The crash remains under investigation by the McHenry County Sheriff’s Accident Investigation Unit. The sheriff’s office hadn’t released additional details about the crash as of Friday afternoon or the names of the two drivers.

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Algonquin Township officials discuss 'probable' lawsuits in executive sessionAlgonquin Township Trustee Melissa Victor speaks during a meeting Dec. 13.Algonquin Township residents wait for officials to return from executive session at a special meeting held Friday.

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 04:45:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Taxpayers could be on the hook for more legal fees if new lawsuits are filed regarding Algonquin Township employees and elected officials – and township leaders are getting prepared. After less than 10 minutes of open session at a special meeting Friday afternoon, officials went into executive session to talk about pending and “probable” litigation, township attorney James Kelly said. Discussion during executive session can be kept secret under provisions of the state’s Open Meetings Act. Trustees and Supervisor Charles Lutzow declined to comment on what they talked about for more than an hour behind closed doors. However, township sources said the officials expect to field lawsuits related to recent flare-ups among public officials – including the firing of Ryan Provenzano, the supervisor’s former chief of staff, and video footage with audio showing Clerk Karen Lukasik looking through records with Fox River Grove Trustee Jennifer Curtiss. Provenzano, a political insider who earned more than $33 an hour in two Algonquin Township offices, was fired Tuesday. Lutzow has not said why he fired his chief of staff and banned him from the premises. Provenzano’s roles in two offices raised questions from some township officials and road district employees who contend that his hiring was the product of patronage and cronyism. Provenzano could not be reached for comment Friday on his cellphone. The Republican had agreements in place to earn $32 an hour and $63,000 a year working full time as the chief of staff in Lutzow’s office, and another deal working part time as deputy highway commissioner at the Algonquin Township Highway Department, where he made $33 an hour. It is unclear if Provenzano will continue working for the road district. Other litigation may sprout from a 15-minute video obtained by the Northwest Herald that shows Lukasik and Curtiss riffling through records inside the supervisor’s office – but officials would not comment on what that litigation might entail. The video spurred Trustee Rachael Lawrence to call for the clerk’s resignation – but Lukasik, who had a key to the township office where the camera recorded her, said the video is misleading and she only was doing her job: organizing, taking inventory and securing township records. The security camera footage underscores the turmoil that has turned Algonquin Township into a hostile political environment engulfed with infighting and secrecy. Trustees said they are tired of the township’s involvement in expensive litigation – officials have approved more than $312,000 in legal bills since June of last year. “The legal fees are completely out of control, and the legal fees need to stop,” Trustee Melissa Victor said. “This has turned into a political game – not about what is right or wrong. It needs to end.” [...]

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Crystal Lake police reports

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 02:24:00 GMT

Information in police reports is obtained from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments. Individuals listed in police reports who have been charged with a crime have not been proven guilty in court. • Alexis N. Tucci, 18, of the 900 block of Golf Course Road, Crystal Lake, was charged Sunday, Sept. 24, with domestic battery, aggravated battery of a peace officer, consumption of alcohol by a minor and resistance to an officer. • Douglas M. Enders Jr., 37, of the 2400 block of MacArthur Drive, McHenry, was charged Sunday, Sept. 24, with domestic battery. • Richard C. Chafton Jr., 34, of the 700 block of Dartmoor Drive, Crystal Lake, was charged Saturday, Sept. 30, with interfering with the reporting of domestic violence, aggravated domestic battery and domestic battery. • Eric J. Wyatt, 56, of the 100 block of Greenfield Avenue, Crystal Lake, was charged Monday, Oct. 16, with domestic battery. • Brittany A. Hale, 20, of the 100 block of Robinson Drive, Morris, was charged Tuesday, Oct. 31, with criminal damage to a property or school. • Judith L. Roesslein, 63, of the 0 to 100 block of N. Briarwood Road, Crystal Lake, was charged Thursday, Nov. 2, with domestic battery. • Chrystian Bochnia, 27, of the 100 block of Crystal Lake Road, Lake in the Hills, was charged Sunday, Nov. 5, with battery. • Jesse L. Keel, 36, of the 100 block of Stewart Avenue, Woodstock, was charged Wednesday, Nov. 8, with criminal trespass to residence and criminal damage to property. • Ryan A. Boyko, 22, of the 4500 block of Hanover Drive, Crystal Lake, was charged Friday, Nov. 10, with possession of drug paraphernalia. • Matthew R. Kleinke, 38, of the 9400 block of Route 176, Crystal Lake, was charged Sunday, Nov. 12, with driving with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent and driving under the influence of alcohol. • Lauren A. Eilken, 29, of the 300 block of South Oriole Triangle, Crystal Lake, was charged Thursday, Nov. 16, with child endangerment. • Michaela L. Notman, 19, of the 1300 block of Skyridge, Crystal Lake, was charged Thursday, Nov. 16, with domestic battery. • Paul P. Pisciotto, 52, of the 0 to 100 block of Timberhill Drive, Crystal Lake, was charged Monday, Nov. 20, with domestic battery. • Elvis Presley Jackson, 55, of the 100 block of S. Crandall Court, Crystal Lake, was charged Tuesday, Nov. 28, with violation of a no stalking/no contact order. • Matthew R. Kleinke, 38, of the 9400 block of Route 176, Crystal Lake, was charged Friday, Dec. 1, with domestic battery and interfering with the reporting of domestic violence. • Deon L. Woodrome, 42, of the 0 to 100 block of High Road, Cary, was charged Wednesday, Dec. 20, with domestic battery, resisting [...]

Supreme court OKs wrongful death suit against former NIU fraternity, sorority membersSarah Nader - "In its historic opinion today, the Illinois Supreme Court holds that hazing is a scourge and that young men who plan and participate in it, and young women who agree and join in it will be held civilly liable to the victims and their families to the fullest extent of the law," Peter Coladarci, the Bogenberger family's lawyer, said during a news conference Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 in Chicago.Gary and Ruth Bogenberger react while DeKalb County State's Attorney Richard Schmack speaks to the media after court in May 2015. The Bogenbergers' lawsuit against 22 men and 16 women who were at a fraternity hazing ritual in 2012 that led to their son's death was largely reinstated by the Illinois Supreme Court on Friday.Sarah Nader - "In its historic opinion today, the Illinois Supreme Court holds that hazing is a scourge and that young men who plan and participate in it, and young women who agree and join in it will be held civilly liable to the victims and their families to the fullest extent of the law," Peter Coladarci, the Bogenberger family's lawyer, said during a news conference Friday.

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 21:56:00 GMT

CHICAGO – The family of a Northern Illinois University fraternity pledge who died from excessive drinking at an initiation ceremony in 2012 can proceed with their lawsuit against all of the people who were there that night, the Illinois Supreme Court held Friday. Peter Coladarci, lawyer for the family of David R. Bogenberger, said the decision could help to stop hazing on college campuses around the state. "In its historic opinion today, the Illinois Supreme Court holds that hazing is a scourge and that young men who plan and participate in it, and young women who agree and join in it will be held civilly liable to the victims and their families to the fullest extent of the law," Coladarci said Friday at the Union League Club in Chicago. Justices upheld the finding of lower courts that Bogenberger's family could not file a wrongful death suit against the national chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha, but can sue the local chapter, its local members and the local sorority women who were present that night. "Although the national organization has been dismissed by the Supreme Court in this case, the fact that individual members may be held liable for significant damages to the victims means that national fraternities and sororities need to take action to stop hazing in their name," Coladarci said. Bogenberger, one of three triplets from Palatine, was a 19-year-old pledge at NIU's Eta Nu chapter of the national Pi Kappa Alpha, or "Pikes," fraternity. In November 2012, he and 18 other pledges attended an unsanctioned party, at which fraternity members and other guests ordered pledges to drink vodka out of four-ounce cups, authorities have said. The pledges drank alcohol for about two hours while playing a game in which they were assigned “moms” and “dads” whose identities they were supposed to guess. The morning after the event, Bogenberger was found dead. Toxicology results showed he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.351 percent at the time of his death. Coladarci said his BAC reached 0.43 during the night. He drank about 27 ounces of vodka – more than a pint and a half – in 75 minutes. "We’re encouraged by the ruling," Ruth Bogenberger, David's mother, said. "It’s been my husband’s and my goal from the beginning to shed a light on hazing, its dangers, and to protect future pledges. In our opinion, it’s a step in the right direction.” Bogenberger’s family filed suit in 2013 against 22 men, 16 women, the landlord for the Pikes fraternity house, the NIU chapter and the national fraternity organization. Cook County Judge Kathy Flanagan dismissed the case in 2014, finding that a person providing or serving alcohol bears no responsibility for consequences to the person who drinks it. This is known as "social host liability." But the majority opinion of the court found that this was a case of hazing, rather than a simple party. [...]

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Government shutdown looms; blame game already in full swingSen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to reporters as he walks towards the Senate as Congress moves closer to the funding deadline to avoid a government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:45:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – A bitterly divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being deported. Democrats in the Senate have served notice they will filibuster a four-week, government-wide funding bill that cleared the House Thursday evening, seeking to shape a subsequent measure. That could expose them to charges that they are responsible for a shutdown, but they point the finger at Republicans instead. "They're in charge," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Friday as he entered his Capitol office. "They're not talking to us. They're totally paralyzed and inept. There's no one to negotiate with." Republicans controlling the narrowly split chamber argue that it's the Democrats who are holding the government hostage over demands to protect "dreamer" immigrants brought to the country as children and now here illegally. As a shutdown loomed, the White House said Friday that President Donald Trump would not leave for a planned weekend in Florida unless a funding bill passes. Trump had been set to leave Friday afternoon to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his inauguration at his Palm Beach estate. Trump entered the fray early Friday morning, mentioning the House-approved bill on Twitter, adding: "Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate — but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!" Administration officials said Trump had been actively engaged, calling lawmakers late into the night Thursday. They said the White House remained hopeful that a deal would be reached, arguing that Democrats would be blamed for a shutdown. Republicans made the same argument. "Democratic senators' fixation on illegal immigration has already blocked us from making progress on long-term spending talks," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "That same fixation has them threatening to filibuster funding for the government." In the House, Republicans muscled the measure through on a mostly party-line 230-197 vote after making modest concessions to chamber conservatives and defense hawks. House Speaker Paul Ryan immediately summoned reporters to try to pin the blame on top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York. A test vote on a filibuster by Senate Democrats appeared likely before the shutdown deadline of Friday at midnight. Schumer was rebuffed in an attempt to vote Thursday night. "We can't keep kicking the can down the road," said Schumer, insisting on more urgency in talks on immigration. "In another month, we'll be right back here, at this moment, with the same web of problems at our feet, in no better position to solve them." [...]

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Chicago mayor vows to step up Amazon second headquarters bidFILE - This Sept. 6, 2012, file photo shows the Amazon logo in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon announced Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, that it has narrowed down its potential site for a second headquarters in North America to 20 metropolitan areas, mainly on the East Coast. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 07:04:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Chicago officials vowed Thursday to step up the competition to lure Amazon’s headquarters after the company named the city among the top 20 locations in the running for a facility that promises 50,000 jobs.

Amazon narrowed the list of 238 proposals from the U.S., Mexico and Canada, to 20 finalists, also including Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, in the Midwest. The Seattle-based company plans to announce the winner later this year.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chicago offers “unparalleled opportunities” with its qualified workforce, higher education institutions and quality of life.

“We are prepared to compete at the next level and the next level after that,” he said in a statement.

Chicago, which teamed up with state officials for the bid, only has released some details, touting the possibility of 10 different sites in the region. One in the city’s downtown core includes space in the Willis Tower. Two are in the suburbs.

However, officials have kept details on possible tax breaks and incentives quiet. The city denied Freedom of Information Act requests from The Associated Press, sending 82 pages of nondisclosure agreements between Chicago, its nonprofit economic development arm and companies.

– Wire report

FILE - This Sept. 6, 2012, file photo shows the Amazon logo in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon announced Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, that it has narrowed down its potential site for a second headquarters in North America to 20 metropolitan areas, mainly on the East Coast. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

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Year-old 'resistance' now sets it sights on the ballot boxAP photo Linda Sarsour (right) and Carmen Perez, co-chairs of the Women's March on Washington, speak during an interview in 2017 in New York.

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:46:00 GMT

The idea first came to Teresa Shook, a Hawaii retiree, in the hours after Donald Trump was elected. Perhaps, she suggested to a few friends on Facebook, women could march on Washington to show the depth of their resistance. Two days later, New York fashion designer Bob Bland joined the call for action with her own message. “Who wants to join me?!?” she asked. Turns out, a whole lot of people did. The astounding sea of women in bright pink “pussy hats” – half a million in Washington alone, and many more in hundreds of marches elsewhere – became the face of the resistance to Trump and his agenda. It inspired thousands of women to do something they’d never done before: Explore a run for political office. The jolt of energy, and unity, also laid the cultural groundwork, many believe, for the “#MeToo” phenomenon to catch fire later in the year, calling powerful men to account for sexual misconduct. Now, the loosely defined “resistance movement” – a network of groups around the nation, with men and women raising money and knocking on doors and supporting hundreds of progressive candidates – is setting its sights on the 2018 midterm elections, hoping to deal the White House and the all-GOP government in Washington a permanent setback. Next stop for the Women’s March organizers: Las Vegas. Rather than returning to Washington, they’re holding a “Power to the Polls” rally in the Nevada city on Sunday, launching a voter registration tour and putting out the message that the next step is all about votes. “The year 2018 is really where the rubber meets the road,” said Linda Sarsour, one of the original organizers along with Bland. A year on, Sarsour said what she’s proudest of is that “the march set the tone for the resistance ... if you look at so many of the fights that happened this year, whether it be around health care, the tax bill, the Dreamers, if you really look, it was led by women.” The group pointedly decided to spend the anniversary in a battleground state, won narrowly by Hillary Clinton in November. “If it can happen in Nevada, it can happen anywhere,” Sarsour said. Nevada also is at the crossroads of crucial issues such as immigration and gun control, she said. In October, it suffered the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Fueling these electoral ambitions is an infusion of first-time women candidates. Emily’s List, which helps Democratic, pro-abortion rights candidates run for office, proudly has kept a tally all year of women who’ve expressed interest in running, via its website. More than 26,000 women have done so since the women’s march, compared only with 920 in the two years before, said its president, Stephanie Schriock. The group has been buoyed by recent state legislative victories in V[...]

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Prosecutor: Parents who tortured children were 'depraved'Members of the media work outside a home Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, where police arrested a couple on Sunday accused of holding 13 children captive, in Perris, Calif. Authorities said an emaciated teenager led deputies to the California home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions, with some of them malnourished and chained to beds. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:46:00 GMT

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A California couple tortured a dozen of their children for years, starving them to the point that their growth was stunted, chaining them to their beds for months at a time and forbidding them from showering more than once a year or using the toilet, a prosecutor said Thursday.

“The victimization appeared to intensify over time,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in announcing charges. “What started out as neglect became severe, pervasive, prolonged child abuse.”

David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, were charged with multiple counts of torture, child abuse, dependent adult abuse and false imprisonment. David Turpin also was charged with performing a lewd act on a child under age 14.

The parents were jailed on $12 million bail each after pleading not guilty Thursday at their first court appearance.

Members of the media work outside a home Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, where police arrested a couple on Sunday accused of holding 13 children captive, in Perris, Calif. Authorities said an emaciated teenager led deputies to the California home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions, with some of them malnourished and chained to beds. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

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Illinois governor to air ad of rival, Blagojevich on wiretapAP file photo J.B. Pritzker announces his run April 6 for Illinois governor in Chicago. Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign said Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, that Rauner is launching campaign ads this weekend featuring 11 minutes of conversations between Pritzker, a top Democratic rival and now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich captured on FBI wiretaps.

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:46:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has reserved 30-minute time slots on TV stations across Illinois for infomercial-like campaign ads featuring FBI recordings of conversations between a top Democratic rival and now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The ads, which include 11 minutes of discussions between billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker and Blagojevich, are a highly unusual and expensive pre-emptive strike by Rauner, who’s considered the most vulnerable GOP governor seeking re-election. Pritzker, a billionaire businessman, still faces five candidates for the Democratic nomination in Illinois’ March 20 primary. Rauner’s campaign said the move is a response to Pritzker’s statements that an ad released last week was selectively edited. That ad included a portion of audio captured on FBI wiretaps in which Blagojevich and Pritzker discuss the possibility of Blagojevich appointing Pritzker attorney general. Pritzker is heard saying, “That’s a deal I would take.” “J.B. Pritzker is part of the corruption and cronyism that has plagued Illinois for decades,” the Rauner campaign said in a statement. “The people of Illinois deserve better.” The campaign didn’t disclose what time or on which channels the ads would air, or how much the airtime cost. Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen noted that Pritzker never was accused of wrongdoing. “Bruce Rauner is desperately trying to interfere in the Democratic primary because he can’t defend his failed record and because he doesn’t want to face J.B. Pritzker in November,” she said. Blagojevich, a Chicago Democrat, was convicted of wide-ranging corruption in a 2011 trial and later sentenced to 14 years in prison. Several convictions involved his bid to trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat Barack Obama vacated to become president for campaign cash. Audio recordings from FBI wiretaps in late 2008 of telephones in Blagojevich’s campaign office played prominently in the disgraced politician’s trial, but none included conversations with Pritzker. Audio not presented at the trial is sealed under a court order, but the Chicago Tribune obtained the Pritzker-Blagojevich conversations and reported them in May. Slayen said hundreds of people spoke with Blagojevich at the time. Rauner’s campaign had to reserve 30-minute time slots for the extended ad because TV stations do not sell ad time in increments long enough to play the full wiretap recordings. Portions of the ad will air twice during the half-hour segments, which will appear on network and cable channels statewide this weekend. Travis Ridout of Washington State University – co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks and analyzes[...]

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Ark. health officials say 150 people exposed to measles

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:46:00 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Health said about 150 people were exposed to measles after an ill traveler flew from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Little Rock.

Officials said those exposed to measles include passengers on United Airlines Flight 5314 on Jan. 10, as well as people in the University of Arkansas at Medical Science’s emergency room on Jan. 11. Chief medical officer Gary Wheeler said they should contact the health department to verify they have been vaccinated.

Wheeler told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the ill passenger traveled from outside the U.S. for a new job in Arkansas and developed measles symptoms en route.

Illinois health officials said two unrelated measles cases have been reported this month involving passengers at O’Hare, which is the nation’s third-largest airport by passenger volume.

House votes to avert federal shutdown, Senate chances dimAP photo House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. (center), accompanied by his Press Secretary AshLee Strong, walks to the Capitol Building on Thursday from the Capitol Visitor's Center in Washington.

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:46:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – A divided House voted Thursday to prevent a government shutdown after an eleventh-hour deal brought conservatives aboard. But the GOP-written measure faced gloomy prospects in the Senate, and it remained unclear whether lawmakers would be able to find a way to keep federal offices open past a Friday night deadline. The House voted by a near party-line 230-197 vote to approve the legislation, which would keep agency doors open and hundreds of thousands of federal employees at work through Feb. 16. The measure is designed to give White House and congressional bargainers more time to work through disputes on immigration and the budget that they’ve tangled over for months. House passage was assured after the House Freedom Caucus reached an accord with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The leader of the hard-right group, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said Ryan promised future votes on extra defense spending and on a conservative, restrictive immigration bill. Meadows also spoke to President Donald Trump. But most Senate Democrats and some Republicans were expected to oppose the measure when it reaches that chamber later Thursday. Democrats were hoping to spur slow-moving immigration talks, while a handful of Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., were pressing for swifter action on immigration and a long-sought boost in Pentagon spending. Senate rejection would leave the pathway ahead uncertain with only one guarantee: finger-pointing by both parties. The GOP controls the Senate 51-49 and will need a substantial number of Democratic votes to reach 60 – the number needed to end Democratic delaying tactics. Republicans were all but daring Democrats to scuttle the bill and force a shutdown because of immigration, which they said would hurt Democratic senators seeking re-election in 10 states that Trump carried in 2016. “If there’s a government shutdown – and let’s hope there’s not – it’d be the Democrats shutting it down,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. Democrats said voters would fault Republicans because they control Congress and the White House and because Trump shot down a proposed bipartisan deal among a handful of senators that would have resolved the conflict over how to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. “You have the leverage. Get this done,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said about Republicans. Trump himself weighed in from Pennsylvania, where he flew to help a GOP candidate in a special congressional election. “I really believe the Democrats want a shutdown to get off the subject of the tax cuts because they’re doing so well,” he said. [...]

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Former Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Ken Caudle retiresFormer Huntley Fire Chief Ken Caudle poses for a portrait Jan. 16, 2016, in Huntley. Caudle, who was put on administrative leave amid an open investigation, has retired from the Huntley Fire Protection District.Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Scott Ravagnie was sworn in as chief, taking over for former Fire Chief Ken Caudle. Caudle, who was put on administrative leave amid an investigation, has retired from the Huntley Fire Protection District.

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:40:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – A former Huntley Fire Protection District chief who had more than two years left on his six-figure contract gave up his rank before retiring amid an investigation.

Ken Caudle, who was put on administrative leave in the summer, has retired from the district.

The former fire chief continued to get his $119,240 salary while on leave until he retired Jan. 5, Fire Chief Scott Ravagnie said.

“The case is closed,” Ravagnie said, declining to comment further on details of the investigation.

Caudle resigned as fire chief Aug. 15 and returned to the rank of battalion chief before being placed on paid administrative leave “pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation,” according to district documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Officials have not said what they were investigating.

When asked Thursday about why he retired, Caudle said, “It was time to retire, and there was no reason for it.”

Former Fire Chief Jim Saletta, who now is a district trustee, said the fire district’s board is meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the annex building, 11118 Main St., to vote on Caudle’s retirement.

“We’re not going to comment on [the results of the investigation],” Saletta said. “... At this point, I would assume that we would accept his retirement.”

Caudle, who was 49 years old at the time he was placed on leave, said he does not plan on taking any other jobs right now, and he is “just enjoying retirement.”

Before he stepped down, a contract for Caudle in his role as fire chief took effect in May and was set to run through April 2020, district documents show.

The Northwest Herald submitted a Freedom of Information Act request Thursday seeking all documents regarding the investigation into Caudle.

Attempts to reach district board President Milford Brown on Thursday were not successful.

Former Huntley Fire Chief Ken Caudle poses for a portrait Jan. 16, 2016, in Huntley. Caudle, who was put on administrative leave amid an open investigation, has retired from the Huntley Fire Protection District.Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Scott Ravagnie was sworn in as chief, taking over for former Fire Chief Ken Caudle. Caudle, who was put on administrative leave amid an investigation, has retired from the Huntley Fire Protection District.

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Metra adding trains to accommodate Women's March in ChicagoParticipants gather Jan. 21 near Grant Park for the Women's March Chicago.

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:40:00 GMT

Metra is adding trains to its busiest lines Saturday to accommodate riders attending the Women’s March in Chicago.

Additional trains will run on the BNSF, Union Pacific North, Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific West lines, according to a news release from Metra. Customers should listen to station announcements and check for extra train times.

Other lines will run on regular schedules and will have expanded seating capacity. Trains likely will be too crowded to allow bicycles, according to the release.

An estimated 250,000 people took to the streets as part of the Women’s March Chicago last year. About 670 marches in all 50 states and 32 counties – the largest in Washington, D.C. – took place to unite people and send a message to newly inaugurated President Donald Trump.

This year’s march, called March to the Polls, will start with music and a video at 9 a.m. Saturday at Grant Park in Chicago, according to Women’s March Chicago’s website. A rally will begin at 11 a.m.

The goal of the march is to “celebrate the spirit of the resistance efforts over the past year and unite to focus on the 2018 elections and beyond,” according to the website.

Participants gather Jan. 21 near Grant Park for the Women's March Chicago.

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Students evacuate Lake in the Hills elementary school after 'small electrical fire'

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:39:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Students at a Lake in the Hills elementary school eventually were able to return to classes Thursday after administrators spotted a small electrical fire in the school’s kitchen area.

School District 300 spokesman Anthony McGinn worked Thursday morning to calm anxious parents’ fears on Facebook after students at Lincoln Prairie Elementary, 500 Harvest Gate, were evacuated because of a reported fire.

“Earlier this morning, administration contacted the fire department after observing smoke near the kitchen area at Lincoln Prairie Elementary,” McGinn said in a post about 10:30 a.m.

Firefighters found a small electrical fire in the kitchen and extinguished it.

Students temporarily were relocated to Lake in the Hills Village Hall “to err on the side of caution,” McGinn said.

This also allowed firefighters to better access the building and assess the incident. An air quality test confirmed that it was safe for students to return.

No one was injured in the incident, and students ate lunch and finished classes in the building.

Additional staff was on-site to assist if needed, according to the post. McGinn asked parents to have patience when calling the school because it was receiving a high volume of calls.

Anyone with concerns also can contact the District 300 office at 847-551-8300.

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Florida man in McHenry County Jail faces sex abuse, assault chargesManuel A. Rivera, 61, of the 7000 block of North Interbay Boulevard, Tampa, Florida, is charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:39:00 GMT

McHENRY – A 61-year-old Florida man remained at the McHenry County Jail on Thursday on charges accusing him of sexually assaulting a young girl with a physical disability.

McHenry police filed a complaint June 30 in McHenry County court accusing Manuel A. Rivera of sexually assaulting a girl younger than 13 on May 16. Rivera, of the 7000 block of North Interbay Boulevard, Tampa, Florida, also is accused of sexually abusing a girl with a physical disability June 28.

He was arrested on a warrant and brought to the jail in Woodstock on Wednesday. Rivera is charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. If he is convicted of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, Rivera could be sentenced to between six and 30 years in prison.

Although the police complaint refers to one of the alleged victims as “physically handicapped,” there is no mention of a physical disability in Rivera’s official indictment.

McHenry police could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Rivera’s bond is set at $150,000, meaning he must post $15,000 bail to be released, jail records show.

He is due in court Monday.

Manuel A. Rivera, 61, of the 7000 block of North Interbay Boulevard, Tampa, Florida, is charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

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Algonquin man facing life in prison declines 2 plea deals, moves forward with trialRichard Lampp is charged with criminal sexual abuse and sexual assault in two separate cases.

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:39:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A 57-year-old Algonquin man facing child sex assault charges chose to risk a natural life sentence in prison at trial rather than accepting either of the plea deals prosecutors offered Thursday. Richard Lampp, of the 100 block of Brook Street, appeared in court Thursday morning with Assistant Public Defender Grant Tucker. Lampp was expected to make a decision on a negotiated plea that was offered to him earlier this month, after prosecutors threatened to press new child pornography charges based on recently discovered evidence. Lampp is charged in two separate cases with predatory criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, sexual exploitation of a child, predatory criminal sexual abuse and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. A conviction in both cases would mean natural life in prison. Tucker met privately Thursday with McHenry County Judge James Cowlin and McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein before Lampp made a decision. Attorneys returned at 1:30 p.m. to hear his decision, which was to decline the initial plea deal and move forward with a trial against Tucker’s recommendation. Cowlin asked whether Lampp understood that not accepting the plea meant potentially spending life in prison if he were convicted. Lampp said he understood. “It’s likely the state is going to revoke its offer and not revive it,” Cowlin said. With relatives of one of the three girls Lampp is accused of abusing in the gallery, prosecutors again met briefly with Tucker before offering Lampp another negotiated plea, which he also declined. Tucker and Eisenstein previously had declined to comment on the terms of the original negotiated plea. Neither could be reached for comment about Thursday’s hearing, and terms of the deal were not discussed in open court. The victim’s relatives attended Thursday’s court hearing because they were told Lampp likely would take the deal, the family members said. Lampp previously worked as a manager at Colonial Cafe in Crystal Lake, a restaurant employee confirmed Thursday. He is accused of inappropriately touching a girl younger than 17 between January and December 2014, according to a complaint filed in McHenry County court. Charges in another case allege that Lampp assaulted a girl younger than 13 in July 2016. At least one of the girls was someone Lampp knew, according to the complaint. He was arrested Aug. 26, 2016, [...]

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Rockford woman dies, Marengo man in critical condition after Union crashShaw Media file photo

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:39:00 GMT

UNION – A 27-year-old Rockford woman died and a 24-year-old Marengo man is in the hospital after a Wednesday night crash on Route 176 north of Union, police said.

There were two fatal crashes in McHenry County overnight Wednesday, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said. The other killed a 44-year-old Woodstock woman on Route 173 east of Hebron.

Union firefighters responded about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday to the 17000 block of Route 176, about a half-mile east of North Union Road near Union, to a reported crash after Marengo firefighters had spotted it while responding to another call, Union Assistant Fire Chief Tim Camp said.

A Rockford woman in a 2005 Honda Civic was driving west on Route 176 and veered into the oncoming lane of traffic for unknown reasons, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office. The Honda collided with a 2007 Jeep Cherokee driven by a 24-year-old Marengo man, police said.

The Rockford woman died at the scene. The Marengo Rescue Squad took the man to Centegra Hospital – Huntley with a leg injury, and it later transferred him to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he remained stable but in critical condition, police said.

Investigators suspect cellphone use was a contributing factor in the crash, according to the release. The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Major Crash Investigation Unit and McHenry County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate the crash.

Both drivers were the sole occupants of their vehicles, and both were wearing seat belts.

The crash closed the road for several hours overnight.

Shaw Media file photo

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44-year-old Woodstock woman killed in crash near Hebron

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:39:00 GMT

HEBRON – A 44-year-old Woodstock woman died Thursday after a head-on crash on Route 173 east of Hebron that sent two others to the hospital.

Police and fire crews were called about 12:20 a.m. Thursday to the 9800 block of Route 173 for the second fatal crash in McHenry County in a three-hour period, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.

A 20-year-old Woodstock woman had been driving a 2004 Mazda Tribute east on Route 173 when, for unknown reasons, the vehicle traveled into the westbound lane, police said. The 44-year-old woman was in the passenger seat.

A 56-year-old Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, woman was driving a 2010 Dodge Journey west and collided with the Mazda when it drifted into her lane, police said.

The 44-year-old was taken to Mercyhealth Hospital and Medical Center – Harvard, where she later died. Both drivers were taken to Centegra hospitals with injuries.

Air bags deployed in both vehicles. Police said drugs and alcohol are not believed to be factors in the crash.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Major Crash Investigation Unit and McHenry County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate the incident.

The Hebron-Alden-Greenwood Fire Protection District, Wonder Lake Fire Protection District, Richmond Township Fire Protection District, Spring Grove Fire Protection District, Mercy MD-1 and Flight for Life responded to the crash.

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VIDEO: Surveillance footage shows Algonquin Township clerk riffling through records with Fox River Grove officialThis screenshot from surveillance video footage shows Algonquin Township Clerk Karen Lukasik (left) and Fox River Grove Trustee Jennifer Curtiss inside Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow's office. Lukasik said the video is misleading and she only was doing her job.This screenshot from surveillance video footage shows Algonquin Township Clerk Karen Lukasik (left) and Fox River Grove Trustee Jennifer Curtiss inside Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow's office. Lukasik said the video is misleading and she only was doing her job.Algonquin Township Clerk Karen Lukasik

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:38:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – After hidden camera footage surfaced of Algonquin Township Clerk Karen Lukasik and a friend thumbing through records after hours, one township trustee is calling for the clerk to step down. A 15-minute video with enhanced audio obtained by the Northwest Herald shows Lukasik and Fox River Grove Trustee Jennifer Curtiss riffling through records inside Supervisor Charles Lutzow’s office. Lukasik, who had a key to the township office where the camera captured her, said the video is misleading and she only was doing her job: organizing, taking inventory and securing township records. At 12 minutes, 19 seconds into the video, Curtiss asks Lukasik, “Karen, do you have authority to go through this stuff?” “I can do whatever I want,” Lukasik says. The video – showing Lukasik taking pictures of certain records, including the salary of Lutzow’s former chief of staff, Ryan Provenzano, disturbed Trustee Rachael Lawrence. “The conduct exhibited by public officials Karen Lukasik and Jennifer Curtiss in this video is shocking and disappointing,” Lawrence said. “Secretly riffling through my trustee mailbox, employee personnel files and desks, as well as confidential financial aid recipients’ files, I believe to be extremely inappropriate, if not illegal. I condemn her actions as unprofessional and unworthy of the public’s trust, and call for her immediate resignation.” Although Lukasik contends that she did nothing wrong, the 15-minute video underscores the turmoil that has turned Algonquin Township into a hostile political environment engulfed with infighting and secrecy. The video footage also helps close a chapter on the mystery surrounding one of four Nest security cameras township officials bought last summer. Footage of the clerk was recorded on a hidden Nest security camera, said Lukasik and other township officials familiar with the matter. The camera had been tucked into a bookshelf inside Lutzow’s office, overlooking the desk of Provenzano, who was fired Tuesday morning. The video likely was recorded in June, shortly after the clerk took office, Lukasik said. “I had just been sued,” Lukasik said. “I got sued by [Highway Commissioner] Andrew Gasser [who said] I had intent to destroy records. ... I was doing my job.” At one point in the video, Lukasik opens a filing cabinet filled with records. “Let’s see,” she says, putting a hand to her ch[...]Algonquin Township Clerk Karen Lukasik

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