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End to shutdown in sight as Senate breaks Democrats' filibusterSen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., leaves after meeting with a bipartisan group of senators, Monday Jan. 22, 2018, on Day Three of the government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 18:37:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Congress sped toward reopening the government Monday, as Senate Democrats dropped their objections to a temporary funding bill in return for assurances from Republicans leaders that they will soon take up immigration and other contentious issues. Senate Republican leader McConnell's commitment to quickly tackle the issue of immigrant "Dreamers" was contingent on Democrats providing enough votes now for a stopgap spending measure lasting a little less than three weeks. The measure needed 60 votes, and Democrats provided 33 of the 81 it got. Eighteen senators, including members of both parties, were opposed. Before the government can reopen the Senate must vote on final passage, the House must approve in turn, and President Donald Trump must sign the measure. Democrats climbed onboard after two days of negotiations that ended with new reassurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Senate would consider immigration proposals in the coming weeks. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer lent his backing to the agreement during a speech on the chamber's floor. "Now there is a real pathway to get a bill on the floor and through the Senate," he said of legislation to halt any deportation efforts aimed at "Dreamers," who were brought to the country as children and are now here illegally. Earlier Monday, McConnell raised hopes for a quick end to the shutdown, saying "I hope and intend" to reach agreement soon on immigration and other contentious issues — if the Democrats agreed to the stopgap spending measure lasting a little less than three weeks. A block of liberal Democrats — some of them 2020 presidential hopefuls — stuck to their opposition. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Dianne Feinstein of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey voted no, as did Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Feinstein said she wasn't persuaded by McConnell's assurances and did not know how a proposal to protect the more than 700,000 younger immigrants would fare in the House. House Speaker Paul Ryan told "Fox and Friends" Monday that if the Senate approved a temporary spending bill to reopen the government through Feb. 8, the House would approve it, too. The Senate vote came as most government offices cut back drastically or even closed on Monday, as the major effects of the shutdown were first being felt with the beginning of the workweek. McConnell said he hoped to reach bipartisan solutions on immigration, border security, disaster aid, military funding and more by Feb. 8. If not, he said "it would be my intention to take up legislation" addressing those issues. The Senate over the weekend inched closer but ultimately fell short of a deal that could have reopened the government before the beginning of the workweek. McConnell and Schumer said negotiations lasted late into the night. On Sunday night, Democrats appeared to be holding out for a firmer commitment from McConnell. "We have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward," Schumer said then. There were hours of behind-the-scenes talks over the weekend between the leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers over how to end the display of legislative dysfunction, which began at midnight Friday after Democrats blocked a temporary spending measure. Democrats have sought to use the spending bill to win concessions, including protections for roughly 700,000 younger immigrants. Republicans have appeared increasingly confident that Democrats are bearing the brunt of criticism for the shutdown and that they will ultimately buckle. The White House and GOP leaders said they would not negotiate with Democrats on immigration until the government is reopened. [...]


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Government shutdown continues into workweek as Senate talks dragSenate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., explains to reporters Saturday how his negotiations with President Donald Trump broke down Friday as quarreling politicians in Washington eventually failed to keep their government in business.

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 07:17:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The government shutdown has extended into the workweek as the Senate appeared to inch closer to ending a partisan stalemate late Sunday but fell short of agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said negotiations still were underway into the night, with a vote to break a Democratic filibuster on a short-term funding bill scheduled for noon Monday. Seeking to win over holdout votes, McConnell pledged Sunday that the Senate would take up legislation on some top Democratic priorities, including immigration, if they aren’t already addressed by Feb. 8. “We have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward,” Schumer said, adding that talks would continue. McConnell’s commitment follows hours of behind-the-scenes talks between the leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers over how to end the two-day display of legislative dysfunction. The Senate adjourned without voting Sunday, guaranteeing the shutdown would continue into a third day. Republicans have appeared increasingly confident that Democrats were bearing the brunt of criticism for the shutdown and that they ultimately would buckle. The White House and GOP leaders said they would not negotiate with Democrats on immigration until the government is reopened. There were indications Sunday that Democratic resolve was beginning to waver, with growing worries that a prolonged shutdown could prove to be an electoral headache for the party just as they have grown confident about their prospects in November. Discussions took place behind closed doors throughout the day with few outward signs of progress, as lawmakers took turns delivering animated speeches to near empty chambers to explain why the other party is to blame. McConnell and Schumer met off the Senate floor in the early evening, as many in quiet Capitol offices flipped their TV screens to playoff football games. As lawmakers feuded, signs of the shutdown were evident at national parks and in some federal agencies. Social Security and most other safety-net programs were unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions continued, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay. Lawmakers were mindful that the political stakes would soar Monday morning, when thousands of federal workers would be told to stay home or, in many cases, work without pay. What still was a weekend burst of Washington dysfunction could spiral into a broader crisis with political consequences in November’s midterm elections. That threat prompted a bipartisan group of Senate moderates to huddle for a second day Sunday in hopes of crafting a plan to reopen the government. The contours of that proposal still were taking shape Sunday evening. In exchange for Democratic votes on a three-week spending measure, the GOP leadership in the Senate would agree to address immigration policy and other pressing legislative matters in the coming weeks. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said the potential deal would not secure an immediate vote on immigration tied to reopening the government, but lawmakers were seeking “an agreement that we would proceed to immigration.” The approach found advocates in South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been trying to broker an immigration deal, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, both Republicans who rejected an earlier short-term proposal. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, another previous “no-vote,” announced he would vote in favor of reopening the government Monday. Shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday, Graham said no deal had been reached by the moderate group because Democrats were not yet on board. “To my Democratic friends, don’t overplay your hand,” he to[...]


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Jordan urges Vice President Mike Pence to 'rebuild trust' after Jerusalem pivotAP photo U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (left), meets with King Abdullah II on Sunday the Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan.

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 07:16:00 GMT

AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan’s king appealed Sunday to Vice President Mike Pence to “rebuild trust and confidence” in the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after fallout from the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Pence tried to reassure the monarch that the U.S. was committed to restarting peace efforts and to a two-state solution, if both sides agree. Such a caveat deviates from long-standing U.S. support for that approach as the only possible outcome of any peace deal. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem last month infuriated the Palestinians, who seek the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of the city as a future capital. They accused the U.S. of siding with Israel and said Washington can no longer serve as a mediator. Jerusalem is the emotional centerpiece of the long-running conflict, and Trump’s policy shift set off protests and condemnation across Arab and Muslim countries. It posed a dilemma for Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, a staunch U.S. ally who derives his political legitimacy in large part from the Hashemite dynasty’s role as guardian of a key Muslim site in Jerusalem. Any perceived threat to Muslim claims in the city is seen as a challenge to Jordan, where a large segment of the population is of Palestinian origin. Pence told the king that the U.S. has committed “to continue to respect Jordan’s role as the custodian of holy sites, that we take no position on boundaries and final status.” It was a message Pence relayed Saturday in talks with Egypt’s president. Later, after meeting U.S. troops near the Syrian border, Pence said he and Abdullah had “a very frank discussion.” “Look, friends occasionally have disagreements and we agreed to disagree on the decision by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But what we agreed on was the need for all parties to come back to the table,” Pence said. “The Palestinian Authority has been absent from direct negotiations since 2014. And I hope I impressed upon King Abdullah our earnest desire to restart the peace process,” Pence said. Abdullah expressed concerns about the regional fallout from the Jerusalem decision. “Today we have a major challenge to overcome, especially with some of the rising frustrations,” he said. He described the Pence visit as a mission “to rebuild trust and confidence” in getting to a two-state solution, in which a state of Palestine would be established in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967. Another cause of concern for Jordan is the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jordan vehemently opposes such a move if taken ahead of an Israeli-Palestinian partition deal. Israel views Jerusalem as its unified capital. An international consensus long was held that the city’s final status should be decided through negotiations, which also was U.S. policy going back decades. Palestinians view Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a blatantly one-sided move. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not meet with Trump administration officials and called off a meeting with Pence that had been scheduled for mid-December. In a new expression of that snub, Abbas overlapped with Pence in Jordan from Saturday evening to midday Sunday, when the Palestinian leader flew to Brussels for a meeting with European Union foreign ministers Monday. There, Abbas is expected to urge EU member states to recognize [...]


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Turkish troops enter Kurdish enclave in northern SyriaAP photo A truck, part of a convoy, carrying military pickup trucks with machine guns attached is seen Sunday on the outskirts of the village of Sugedigi, Turkey.

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 07:15:00 GMT

HASSA, Turkey – Turkish troops and Syrian opposition forces attacked a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria on Sunday in their bid to oust from the area a U.S.-allied Kurdish militia, which responded with a hail of rockets on Turkish towns, killing at least one refugee.

The Turkish offensive on Afrin, code-named Operation Olive Branch, started Saturday and has heightened tensions in the already-complicated Syrian conflict, threatening to further strain ties between NATO allies Turkey and the U.S.

On Sunday, the U.S. urged Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that the offensive is “limited in scope and duration.” A statement by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also asked Turkey to be “scrupulous to avoid civilian casualties,” adding that all parties involved in Syria should focus on defeating the Islamic State group.

The Syrian government, Iran and Egypt condemned the attack, which activists said has killed at least 18 civilians in the Kurdish-held enclave in the first 24 hours.

AP photo A truck, part of a convoy, carrying military pickup trucks with machine guns attached is seen Sunday on the outskirts of the village of Sugedigi, Turkey.


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Woodstock High School graduate promoted to assistant police chief in San DiegoWoodstock High School graduate Chris McGrath has been promoted to assistant police chief at the San Diego Police Department.

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 07:10:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A Woodstock High School graduate has been promoted to assistant police chief at the San Diego Police Department.

Chris McGrath graduated from Woodstock High School in 1982 and enlisted in the Marine Corps, where he served as a military police officer from 1983 to 1987. He has been with the San Diego Police Department for 29 years, according to a news release.

McGrath will oversee the neighborhood police command as part of his new role, which includes operational support; research analysis; property and evidence administration; special weapons and tactics; communications division work; and work with the critical incident management unit and information services.

McGrath also serves as a liaison for the San Diego Police Foundation and the chief’s community outreach advisory boards.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2002 at San Diego State University and received a master’s in public administration in 2004.

He has attended a California executive development program and graduated from the FBI National Academy.

Woodstock High School graduate Chris McGrath has been promoted to assistant police chief at the San Diego Police Department.


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Prairie Ridge auto students to repair Jeep for use by less fortunatePrairie Ridge High School automotive students work to repair a donated Jeep that the class then will donate to C.A.R.S. Ministry to help the less fortunate have reliable transportation.

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 07:10:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Prairie Ridge High School automotive students are repairing a donated Jeep and then will pass it on to a local organization that helps the less fortunate go places.

Students in Autos 2 at the high school are assessing and fixing the brakes, fluids and filters in the Jeep, which was donated by a local family, and also will install a new transmission. Upon completion of their work, it will be donated to the C.A.R.S. Ministry.

“That’s not something high school students do every day,” auto teacher Matt Hardt said in a news release.

C.A.R.S., or Christian Automotive Repairmen Serving, provides reliable transportation to those in need through refurbished, donated vehicles with the help of volunteer mechanics, according to Willow Creek Community Church.

Autos 2 student Ryan Nathan said even though the students get to learn quite a bit about cars in the class, it’s nice knowing that the vehicle is donated to people who need it.

“When I heard about the project, I was actually really excited because it was something I could do that would help out another person and apply my skill to,” Autos 2 student Daniel Bruce said.

Prairie Ridge’s auto program recently received several car donations from local families and a generous $37,000 donation in parts from Motor Werks in South Barrington, according to the release.

“It shows that as a mechanic, you’re doing more than turning a wrench,” Prairie Ridge industry and career division leader Kevin Koeppen said. “Not only is it showing what they can do skill-wise, but it’s showing that as a mechanic, you truly serve a purpose to your customer.”

C.A.R.S. operates solely on donations and will accept and use any vehicle, boat, motorcycle or RV, “running or not, engine in or out, smashed-up bumper, front-end collision – we will take it,” according to its website.

“I think the biggest thing I’m looking forward to is seeing it roll out of the bay, and it’s going to someone that needs it,” Bruce said.

Prairie Ridge High School automotive students work to repair a donated Jeep that the class then will donate to C.A.R.S. Ministry to help the less fortunate have reliable transportation.


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Public hearing set for amendments to McHenry County's Unified Development Ordinance

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 07:09:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing to discuss amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance.

The hearing will start at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the McHenry County Administration Building in Conference Room C, and will continue at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the same room, according to a news release.

The Unified Development Ordinance regulates land use in unincorporated McHenry County.

The amendments under consideration apply to all of unincorporated McHenry County and do not specifically address any single property.

The amendments aim to better organize the ordinance and make it easier to use, eliminating conflicting sections, aligning text with current interpretations and reducing regulation where possible, according to the release.

Amendments can be viewed online. Residents also can view the changes in person at the Department of Planning and Development in Room 208 of the Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock.

For information regarding the amendments or the hearing process, contact deputy director Darrell Moore at 815-334-4560 or dnmoore@co.mchenry.il.us.




McHenry County officials join Chicago-based economic development groupIllinois Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, left, and former Illinois Rep. Jack Franks, R-Woodstock, right, get together while on the House floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, in Springfield, Ill. McSweeney, is working on a bill that would give voters an opportunity to eliminate township government with a majority vote – a move that would shift the services provided by townships to local municipalities and the county government. His legislation would allow voters to trigger a referendum with a petition signed by 5 percent of the voters within township boundaries. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)Michael Skala talks about a development plan Aug. 14 for a new residential, commercial and fire station complex off Route 47 in Huntley.

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 07:09:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – McHenry County has two officials representing it as part of a new economic development organization called the Chicago Regional Growth Corp.

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks and County Board member Michael Skala will join other business and government leaders to drive collaboration among public and private partners to generate growth across northeastern Illinois, according to a news release from the county.

“If the cooperation that was forged in the effort to pitch the Chicago region to Amazon for its second headquarters showed us anything, it’s that we can take job creation and economic development to a new level – a level that benefits everybody – if we work together,” Franks said in a statement. “The region already boasts a world-class infrastructure and a world-class workforce. Creating the Chicago Regional Growth Corp. will forge government and the private sector into a powerful, unified voice to attract job creators and investment.”

CRGC will provide a platform to manage the region’s economic development initiatives. The organization also includes leadership from Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake and Will counties, as well as the city of Chicago.

Industry leaders come from sectors including manufacturing, food processing, finance and higher education.

The new organization aims to strengthen the regional economy and connect resources to generate economic opportunity and prosperity.

“The economic growth of cities, from neighborhoods to suburbs, is highly interdependent,” CRGC founding Executive Director Tom Hulseman said in a statement. “We have a huge opportunity to capitalize on our resources and bring all of the players to the table to set an economic development agenda that works for the entire region, with a strong emphasis on inclusive economic growth throughout all of CRGC’s programs and initiatives.”

Illinois Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, left, and former Illinois Rep. Jack Franks, R-Woodstock, right, get together while on the House floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, in Springfield, Ill. McSweeney, is working on a bill that would give voters an opportunity to eliminate township government with a majority vote – a move that would shift the services provided by townships to local municipalities and the county government. His legislation would allow voters to trigger a referendum with a petition signed by 5 percent of the voters within township boundaries. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)Michael Skala talks about a development plan Aug. 14 for a new residential, commercial and fire station complex off Route 47 in Huntley.


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Crystal Lake-based School District 155 considers closing Haber Oaks CampusThe timeline for a possible Community High School District 155 Board vote on whether to close the district's Haber Oaks Campus and fold its operations into Crystal Lake South High School was presented Thursday night.Community High School District 155 Interim Superintendent Steve Olson told the district board Thursday that parents of Haber Oaks Campus students will be notified this week of upcoming meetings to discuss the possible closure of the campus.

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 07:08:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Parents of students who attend Crystal Lake South High School and the Haber Oaks Campus in Cary can expect to hear from Community High School District 155 in the next two weeks about a potential closure of Haber Oaks. District 155 Interim Superintendent Steve Olson presented a timeline Thursday night to the district board’s Strategic Planning Committee leading up to a Feb. 20 vote on whether to close Haber Oaks. The district continues to see declining annual enrollment, and leaders are considering moving Haber Oaks operations into the first floor of Crystal Lake South. The district will call Haber Oaks parents Thursday and Friday to let them know about a Feb. 8 meeting at Crystal Lake South where district officials and Haber Oaks parents can discuss a possible closure. Crystal Lake South parents will get an email Jan. 29 about a similar meeting between the district and South parents Feb. 5 at the school. Results of the two meetings will be shared with the board’s planning committee Feb. 13. Olson said the board will decide Feb. 20 whether to approve a relocation to Crystal Lake South based on proposed bids from contractors. Some construction work would be required at South. The Haber Oaks Campus was bought from Cary School District 26 and reopened in 2008 under District 155 as an alternative school campus. About 90 students go to the school, either for partial or full days. Haber Oaks is home to District 155’s therapeutic day program, which provides a self-contained educational setting for special education students with significant emotional and/or behavioral challenges, according to the district. The campus also has a credit recovery program for students who have not progressed toward a high school diploma in the traditional comprehensive high school setting. Although district attendance has dropped steadily over the past five years, from 6,745 during the 2013-14 school year to 6,137 this year, the board and administration want to keep the existing four high schools open. The board passed an estimated levy increase of 2.44 percent in November, and officials said “significant” levels of deferred maintenance to the tune of $50 million worth of work was one of the main reasons for the hike. The district spent $56,750 on a feasibility study to analyze the costs and usage rates associated with the district’s Center for Education on Virginia Road in Crystal Lake, as well as Haber Oaks. Olson said Haber Oaks students will have more opportunities for elective classes at Crystal Lake South, and there are more support services available there. Busing times for some kids might be shortened, and some could walk to the school rather than getting bused to Cary. “We’ve made a commitment to staff, the families, the kids – to not impact staffing at all for the kids in that program next year, because there is some anxiety that comes with any change and movement of that nature,” Olson said. “We want to make sure they hit the ground running.” The timeline for a possible Community High School District 155 Board vote on whether to close the district's Haber Oaks Campus and fold its operations into Crystal Lake South High School was presented Thursday night.Community High School District 155 Interim Superintendent Steve Olson told the district board Thursday that parents of Haber Oaks Campus students will be notified this week of upcoming meetings to discuss the possible closure of the campus.[...]


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Expansion of Pedigree Ovens, PetDine facility in Harvard completeEquipment is installed on the production floor of the new 220,000-square-foot PetDine and Pedigree Ovens facility in Harvard.Product hoppers are installed Jan. 11 at the new 220,000-square-foot PetDine and Pedigree Ovens facility in Harvard.Working in front of one of the ovens, Key West Metal Industries welder Chris Tinsley works on a conveyer tube in the oven room of PetDine and Pedigree Ovens' new 220,000-square-foot facility Jan. 11 in Harvard.Troy Klutts of Hartwig Plumbing and Heating Inc. installs steam pipes on the production floor of the new 220,000-square-foot PetDine and Pedigree Ovens facility Jan. 11 in Harvard.A Pedigree Ovens employee moves a pallet of product in the new 220,000-square-foot facility Jan. 11 in Harvard.

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 07:08:00 GMT

HARVARD – Pedigree Ovens and PetDine LLC’s combined expansion is complete in a new 220,000-square-foot facility in Harvard.

Owners Preston Munsch, Ken Munsch and Kurt Stricker acquired the 55-year-old company two years ago. Stricker has owned and operated the pet treat manufacturer Pedigree Ovens for 20 years in Harvard.

The expansion and collaboration will allow for increased manufacturing capacity and the ability to roll out new products, Stricker said.

“Putting the manufacturing together will allow for some synergies of ingredients, shipping and warehouse controls,” Stricker said. “We are moved in and ready for production.”

PetDine’s products are free of artificial colors, corn, wheat, sugar and salt. The company doesn’t use any binding or gumming agents or water, which helps avoid mold, according to a statement from the company.

“We pride ourselves on our quality control from the time the ingredients get to our facility to the finished product. Every single product we produce goes through a full microanalysis test, performed by an independent, third-party lab, testing for toxins,” Preston Munsch said. “This extensive process enables us to make the most highly functional and palatable pet products, assuring every chew that leaves our facility is of the highest quality.”

Preston Munsch said that PetDine and Pedigree Ovens both have seen increased demand and client growth, which created the need for expansion.

“By leveraging capabilities, improving processes, tapping into our industry connections and expanding our breadth of offerings to current customers, we are generating dozens of inbound leads per week,” he said. “The manufacturing world is getting smaller and smaller. It’s expensive to manufacture and expensive to earn certification. But our flexibility enables us to work with small or big companies. And we are pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

Equipment is installed on the production floor of the new 220,000-square-foot PetDine and Pedigree Ovens facility in Harvard.Product hoppers are installed Jan. 11 at the new 220,000-square-foot PetDine and Pedigree Ovens facility in Harvard.Working in front of one of the ovens, Key West Metal Industries welder Chris Tinsley works on a conveyer tube in the oven room of PetDine and Pedigree Ovens' new 220,000-square-foot facility Jan. 11 in Harvard.Troy Klutts of Hartwig Plumbing and Heating Inc. installs steam pipes on the production floor of the new 220,000-square-foot PetDine and Pedigree Ovens facility Jan. 11 in Harvard.A Pedigree Ovens employee moves a pallet of product in the new 220,000-square-foot facility Jan. 11 in Harvard.


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Crystal Lake-based School District 155: Transparency to improve in coming monthsCommunity High School District 155 Board President Adam Guss (left) and Vice President Jason Blake speak during a meeting Nov. 21 in Crystal Lake.Regional Superintendent of Schools Leslie Schermerhorn congratulates Steve Olson on being appointed interim superintendent after a Community High School District 155 Board meeting Aug. 9 at the Center for Education in Crystal Lake.Community High School District 155 Board member Dave Aecrest listens to a presentation about the district's proposed tax levy during a meeting Nov. 21 in Crystal Lake. The board recently met to discuss a number of matters, including eliminating administrative positions and cutting teaching positions.Community High School District 155 Board Vice President Jason Blake (center) listens to a presentation about the district's proposed tax levy during a meeting Nov. 21 in Crystal Lake.Community High School District 155 Board President Adam Guss (left) listens to a presentation about the district's proposed tax levy during a meeting Nov. 21 in Crystal Lake.

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 07:07:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Community High School District 155 Board recently met to discuss eliminating administrative and teaching positions, declining enrollment, pressure from residents to lower property taxes, a timeline for closing the Haber Oaks Campus, a proposal to reduce physical education classes from five days a week to three and a “credibility gap.” All of that and more was discussed under a single item on the agenda for the board’s Strategic Planning Committee meeting Thursday. The item on the agenda posted at the district’s office and on its website said “Presentation and discussion of proposed staffing and curricular adjustments for the 2018-2019 school year.” No additional description or documentation was easily available to members of the public before the meeting. D-155 offers minimal meeting information Unlike other McHenry County school districts and taxing bodies, District 155 doesn’t post board packets or other information on what elected officials will discuss before they meet. In contrast, other districts, including Woodstock School District 200, post more information ahead of meetings. Crystal Lake resident John Pletz, who ran for a District 155 board seat in the April election but came up short, took issue with District 155’s committee meeting agendas, which are even less descriptive than the board meeting agendas. “For a committee meeting, it’d be nice to have that background information,” he said. “I often have to ask for it. I don’t want to be critical, but it just seems like it should be readily available.” District 155 officials have said they will improve transparency with district residents in 2018 and will discuss whether to begin posting board meeting agenda packets online, as other area districts have done for years. District 155 only posts an agenda for its monthly meetings. It does not include supporting documents, such as financial reports, cost estimates, memos and background information related to requests that come before the board or its committees. All such documents are considered open for public viewing. The state’s Open Meetings Act doesn’t require board packets to be posted. Nonetheless, Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47, Huntley School District 158 and District 200 post supporting documents online. Even with an annual budget close to $110 million, District 155 never makes such documents available online before meetings. Past practices District 155 Interim Superintendent Steve Olson said the district’s policies do not address what should or shouldn’t be posted with an agenda. Having stepped into the role in August after the unexpected resignation of former Superintendent Johnnie Thomas, Olson said the district has been following past practices. “My focus, as a building principal for six years, wasn’t immersed in the board agenda,” Olson said. Changes might be coming, he said. “I want to make sure there’s trust in how we’re operating, and you do that by creating transparency,” Olson said. “I think you’ll find, over the next few months, you’ll see improvements in how we provide information to folks.” Districts use software to improve transparency District 47, the largest feeder district for District 155, uses interactive BoardDocs Pro software on its website that allows[...]


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Women's marches organizers hope to keep building momentumPeople cheer during the Women's March rally Sunday in Las Vegas. Thousands of people poured into a football stadium in the city on the anniversary of women's marches around the world, to cap off a weekend of global demonstrations that promised to continue building momentum for equality, justice and an end to sexual harassment. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 04:44:00 GMT

LAS VEGAS – Thousands of people poured into a football stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday, the anniversary of women's marches around the world, to cap off a weekend of global demonstrations that participants hope will continue building momentum for equality, justice and an end to sexual harassment. "This is a birthday party for a movement that has only begun to flex its power to change this democracy," Anna Galland, the executive director of the progressive group moveon.org, told the boisterous crowd. Following marches that drew huge crowds across the U.S. on Saturday, one year after President Donald Trump's inauguration, protesters gathered Sunday on multiple continents, including in London, Paris, Sydney, Madrid and Buenos Aires. The events culminated with the Las Vegas rally, which launched an effort to register 1 million voters and target swing states such as Nevada in the U.S. midterm elections later this year, which could shift control of Congress. Organizers said they are planning future events in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas. Paula Beaty, 53, a tech worker from Durham, North Carolina, attended the Las Vegas rally wearing an outfit recalling the women's suffrage movement of the early 20th century. She cited the difference women made in helping Democrat Doug Jones upset conservative Republican Roy Moore for a Senate seat in Alabama in December. "For us it's all about women's rights and we're seeing them be eroded with Trump in office," Beaty said. "The women made a difference in Alabama and we're hoping we can flip the House and Senate with the power of women." There was also a push for women to not just register as voters, but as candidates. Democratic Idaho state Rep. Paulette Jordan, a member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, drew an immense cheer when she told the crowd she was running to be not only Idaho's first female governor, but the first Native American woman to be governor in any state. She implored other women to join her in running for office. "This is Idaho's future. This is the future of America," she said. The demonstrations came at a time of reckoning for many men in Hollywood, the media and other industries as women speak out about sexual misconduct and inequity in general. Among the speakers in Las Vegas was singer and actress Cher. "This is one of the worst times in our history and that's why I honestly believe that women are going to be the ones that fix it," Cher told the crowd. "Stay strong and remember if you don't have a vote, you don't have a voice." Those who took part in this year's events said they were galvanized by an avalanche of political and gender issues over the past year, as well as the #MeToo movement, which has been credited with countering widespread sexual abuse and misconduct. Many of the marchers not only supported women's rights, but also denounced Trump's views on issues including immigration, abortion and LGBT rights. Demonstrators denounced Trump's views with colorful signs and even saltier language. Trump dismissed the suggestion that his presidency has been bad for women. He tweeted Saturday that it was a "perfect day" for women to march to celebrate the "economic success and wealth creation" of 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 yea[...]


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After huge U.S. crowds, European women join chorus for changeProtesters listen to speeches at the Grand Park during a Women's March, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Los Angeles. On the anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration, people participating in rallies and marches in the U.S. and around the world Saturday denounced his views on immigration, abortion, LGBT rights, women's rights and more.A woman holds as sign as she takes part in a Women's March in Seattle, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. The march was one of dozens planned across the U.S. over the weekend.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 18:40:00 GMT

LONDON – Thousands of people on two continents picked up the baton from the United States and rallied Sunday in solidarity with women demanding equality, justice and an end to sexual harassment. Demonstrations in London, Paris, Sydney and other European and Australian cities followed much larger women's marches held Saturday across the U.S. to mark the anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration, as well as the protests it inspired. In the British capital, demonstrators carried placards reading "We Are Powerful" and "Time's Up" and chanted outside Prime Minister Theresa May's office as they raised grievances ranging from workplace inequities to misogynistic abuse on social media. "Today is a call for action to bring about change," London protest co-organizer Shola Mos-Shogbamimu said. "This is so much more than Trump." The London event drew thousands of people despite sleet and snow. Heavy rain fell on the protesters who gathered near the Eiffel Tower, which could have been a factor in the small number of participants compared to the U.S. marches on Saturday. "It doesn't matter if the weather is like this," Maggie Kan, who was one of the more than 100 people who didn't let the rain and cold deter them. "We're still coming together, and we're going to still fight against Trump and his agenda." Some of the slogans on posters at the Paris rally read "Sorry for the inconvenience, we are trying to change the world" and "Look back, march forward." The international events come at a time of reckoning for many men in Hollywood, the media and other industries as women speak out about sexual misconduct and inequity in general. More are scheduled to take place in the United States on Sunday. They will culminate in a Las Vegas rally that will launch an effort to register 1 million voters and target swing states in the U.S. midterm elections later this year, which could shift control of Congress. "I think last year was that watershed moment of President Trump's election," said Melissa Goffin, the march organizer in Melbourne, Australia. "It's a new era of feminism." Those who took part in this year's events said they were galvanized by an avalanche of political and gender issues over the past year, as well as the #MeToo movement, which has been credited with countering widespread sexual abuse and misconduct. Many of the marchers not only supported women's rights, but also denounced Trump's views on issues including immigration, abortion and LGBT rights. Demonstrators denounced Trump's views with colorful signs and even saltier language. Trump dismissed the suggestion that his presidency has been bad for women. He tweeted Saturday that it was a "perfect day" for women to march to celebrate the "economic success and wealth creation" of 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!" In Palm Beach, Florida, home to Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, several hundred people marched Saturday carrying anti-Trump signs. A group of women wearing red cloaks and white hats like the characters in the book and television versions of "The Handmaid's Tale," which imagines a future in which women's rights have been strictly limited, walked in formation with [...]


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Bill would give rural Illinois schools high-speed internet

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 18:38:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – A proposed bill would give more than 90,000 students across 100 districts in rural Illinois access to high-speed internet.

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview, and Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood are sponsoring the legislation, the State Journal-Register reported.

Manar says the measure would be a one-time expense that would bridge the digital divide that puts many rural schools at a disadvantage. Schools that lack access to high speed internet can't stream educational videos, use online testing or offer remote learning.

"We expect schools and teachers to solve all of society's ills; we debate that all the time in the legislature. Yet we fail to equip them with the tools necessary to get the job done," Manar said. "With the evidence-based model now in place, this is the next logical step for us to take to bridge inequity in our public schools in the state of Illinois."

Building the fiber optic infrastructure is estimated to cost $75,000 to $420,000 per school. Funds from the state's School Infrastructure Fund, which has more than $36 million, would be used for the improvements.

The legislation would also set aside more than $16 million in state funds from the upcoming budget. It could gain as much as $50 million in matching funds from the federal government.

The legislation has the potential to also lay the groundwork for general broadband expansion in rural communities, Manar said.

A 2016 Federal Communications Commission report says 40 percent of American in rural areas don't have access to broadband internet, compared to just 4 percent lacking access in urban areas.




Federal shutdown enters Day 2 amid blame game on both sidesSenate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., explains to reporters on Saturday how his negotiations with President Donald Trump broke down Friday as quarreling politicians in Washington eventually failed to keep their government in business, at the Capitol in Washington.

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 18:37:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's budget director is holding out hope that feuding Democrats and Republicans in Congress can reach a short-term spending agreement before the start of the workweek Monday, but he worries that the government shutdown could last for several more days if progress remains elusive. Democratic lawmakers challenged the president to get more involved and to accept bipartisan compromise as a way out of a federal shutdown that entered its second day Sunday amid finger-pointing from both parties as to who bears primary responsibility. "I really do believe that at heart here there was an interest by some folks in the Democratic Party to deny the president sort of the victory lap of the anniversary of his inauguration, the chance to talk about the success of the tax bill, the success of the economy and jobs," budget director Mick Mulvaney said on "Fox News Sunday." "And I think if they get over that, there's a chance this thing gets done before 9 o'clock on Monday morning when folks come to work," he said. Democratic lawmakers counter that the president hurt negotiations by initially expressing support for a compromise and then abruptly turning it away. "How can you negotiate with the president under those circumstances where he agrees face-to-face to move forward with a certain path and then within two hours calls back and pulls the plug?" said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on ABC's "This Week." Four Republicans opposed the House-passed plan. The measure gained 50 votes to proceed to 49 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster. One of the senators who voted against it, Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, said he is opposed to short-term fiscal bills and called the blame game "ridiculous on both sides." "It's gamesmanship and it's partisanship," Paul said. Paul said the answer to solving the brinksmanship is to guarantee Democrats in writing that they'll get their debate on immigration issues. Durbin said bipartisan conversations are taking place and lawmakers from both sides are "in good faith trying to find common ground and put this behind us." "But at the end of the day, the president has to step up and lead in this situation," Durbin said. Lawmakers are participating 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 political stakes for both parties in an election-year shutdown whose consequences are far from clear. Democrats refused to provide the votes needed to reopen the government until they strike a deal with Trump protecting young immigrants from deportation, providing disaster relief and boosting spending for opioid treatment and other domestic programs. The shutdown began Saturday 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. And he resumed his social media commentary early[...]


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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. [...]


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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. [...]


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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[...]


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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[...]


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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 stov[...]


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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. [...]


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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 [...]


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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. [...]


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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 th[...]


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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 I[...]



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 b[...]


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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 [...]


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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 [...]


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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[...]


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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.” [...]


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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,[...]


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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 [...]


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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, investiga[...]


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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 institu[...]


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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[...]


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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 au[...]


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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 disa[...]


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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[...]


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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. Tr[...]


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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 viol[...]



Supreme court OKs wrongful death suit against former NIU fraternity, sorority membersSarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com "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 - snader@shawmedia.com "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 chapte[...]


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