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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner: Cut taxes, 'wasteful spending' to curb deficitFILE - In this June 14, 2017, file photo, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, speaks during an interview in Chicago. Failure to pay debts on time has cost Illinois $1 billion in late-payment penalties.The debt-transparency report Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 also shows that in addition to the backlog, there's roughly $2.3 billion the General Assembly never approved spending. Comptroller Susana Mendoza reported the state had $9 billion in overdue bills on Dec. 31, 2017, with almost $2.5 billion still at individual state agencies. (AP Photo/G-Jun Yam File)

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:34:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday that he will propose rolling back last year's income tax increase in a "step-down" process over several years while also tackling a continuing deficit of billions of dollars.

The Republican, who will propose a budget outline next month, revealed his plan to pare down the tax increase – a $5 billion-a-year revenue boost – in response to a report that the state spent $2 billion that lawmakers never approved.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza's first-of-its-kind monthly review Monday detailed Illinois' $9 billion in overdue bills. Mendoza, a Democrat, pointed out that in addition to that pile, the state has $2.3 billion that it's obligated to pay, but which the General Assembly never appropriated.

Rauner, who's facing a tough re-election campaign this year, was asked about the deficit after a visit to a Skokie high school.

"It's going to take a few years, but we're going to step down the income tax increase and put more money in education, shrink the wasteful spending in government and close this deficit," he said. "We've had a deficit now for years and even after a tax hike, there are deficits."

Mendoza's review results from a law adopted in November. It also pointed out that the backlogged spending, which hit $16.7 billion in November before borrowing paid off a portion of it, carries with it a $1 billion late-payment surcharge run up since mid-2015, the beginning of a two-year budget deadlock between Rauner and Democrats who control the Legislature.

It ended last summer when several House Republicans helped Democrats override Rauner's veto of an increase in the income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.

Democrats have claimed that much of the unappropriated spending came from Rauner, who continued during the impasse to sign contracts with providers of good and services without a guarantee that the money would be approved to pay the bills.

Of the backlog – which stood at $8.8 billion Monday – Mendoza's report said $2.5 billion had not yet been sent to the comptroller for processing by the agencies that incurred them. Before now, agencies weren't required to report the amounts they were still holding. But knowing what is coming from the agencies is part of why Mendoza wanted the law.

"This report will be an effective cash-management tool for my office and provides a much greater level of transparency for taxpayers and policymakers," Mendoza said in a statement.

Eighty of 84 agencies complied on time, Mendoza's office said. The biggest of the four who failed is the Department of Children and Family Services. A spokesman for DCFS did not respond to a question as to why.

FILE - In this June 14, 2017, file photo, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, speaks during an interview in Chicago. Failure to pay debts on time has cost Illinois $1 billion in late-payment penalties.The debt-transparency report Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 also shows that in addition to the backlog, there's roughly $2.3 billion the General Assembly never approved spending. Comptroller Susana Mendoza reported the state had $9 billion in overdue bills on Dec. 31, 2017, with almost $2.5 billion still at individual state agencies. (AP Photo/G-Jun Yam File)


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2 vehicles collide in Lake in the HillsTwo vehicles were involved in a crash Monday in Lake in the Hills.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:33:00 GMT

Two vehicles were involved in a crash Monday at the intersection of Algonquin Road and Village Hall Drive in Lake in the Hills.

Officials were not available to provide information about the incident Monday.

Two vehicles were involved in a crash Monday in Lake in the Hills.


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Snow mostly melts Monday in McHenry County, but more expected TuesdayTrees and a ribbon of snow are reflected Monday at a pond on the McHenry County College campus in Crystal Lake. Snow is likely Tuesday morning, with a high temperature expected to be near 32 degrees.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:29:00 GMT

Snow is likely Tuesday morning, with a high temperature expected to be near 32 degrees.

Trees and a ribbon of snow are reflected Monday at a pond on the McHenry County College campus in Crystal Lake. Snow is likely Tuesday morning, with a high temperature expected to be near 32 degrees.


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17th annual People in Need Forum set Saturday at McHenry County CollegeKaty Crain of Woodstock sets up a booth for the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition at the People in Need Forum last year at McHenry County College. The 17th annual event is set for Saturday.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:29:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The 17th annual People in Need Forum will be Saturday at McHenry County College, and it will host more than 80 exhibitors.

McHenry County-area community members are invited to register for the free event, which will be from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., to learn about the abundance of resources and support available to them.

The forum features experts in providing important community resources available in the area to help those in need through networking, panel discussions and workshops.

Topics to be addressed through 16 workshops include veterans’ services, suicide prevention, human trafficking, LGBTQ issues and challenges, student loans, Medicare and opioids in McHenry County.

Registration and a continental breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. in the Luecht Conference Center in Building B at the college, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake.

To register or for information, visit www.mchenry.edu/peopleinneed or contact Bev Thomas at 815-479-7529 or bthomas@mchenry.edu.

Katy Crain of Woodstock sets up a booth for the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition at the People in Need Forum last year at McHenry County College. The 17th annual event is set for Saturday.


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Prosecutors charge another person in McHenry man's overdose deathPatrick D. Milton, 29, of the 6200 block of Gold Circle, Hanover Park, is charged with drug-induced homicide.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:28:00 GMT

McHENRY – Police arrested a 29-year-old Hanover Park man during the weekend in connection with the death of a McHenry man, who overdosed on heroin in August.

Patrick D. Milton, 29, of the 6200 block of Gold Circle, is the second person to be charged in Michael Roach’s death. Prosecutors in November filed drug-induced homicide charges against 25-year-old Jessica D. Chapman, claiming that she delivered the dose of heroin that ultimately killed Roach on Aug. 31.

Milton was arrested and taken to the McHenry County Jail on Friday, jail records show.

He is charged with drug-induced homicide and could face six to 30 years in prison if convicted.

The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office was not available Monday to comment on the charges.

Milton is accused of delivering heroin to Chapman and Roach on Aug. 31, according to a criminal complaint filed Jan. 10 in McHenry County.

Autopsy results show that Roach died from a combination of hydrocodone, heroin and fentanyl, police said. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is significantly more potent than heroin.

Roach’s family described him as a caring man with a big heart who died after a relapse, according to his obituary.

Milton’s bond is set at $500,000. He must post $50,000 bail to be released.

He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday morning.

Patrick D. Milton, 29, of the 6200 block of Gold Circle, Hanover Park, is charged with drug-induced homicide.


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Wonder Lake man cited in crash involving unmarked McHenry police vehicleA McHenry police detective was involved in a two-vehicle crash Monday at Route 120 and Crystal Lake Road in McHenry.McHenry police block Crystal Lake Road at Main Street after a police detective was involved in a two-vehicle crash Monday at the intersection of Route 120 and Crystal Lake Road in McHenry.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:28:00 GMT

McHENRY – McHenry police cited a Wonder Lake man Monday after a crash involving a McHenry Police Department detective.

The crash occurred at Crystal Lake Road and Route 120 when a Honda Civic collided with an unmarked McHenry police vehicle.

Shane O. Williams, 46, of Wonder Lake was cited with failure to yield and operating an uninsured motor vehicle, Deputy Police Chief Tom Walsh said.

Williams was driving west on Route 120 and about to turn left onto Crystal Lake Road.

The McHenry detective was driving a 2012 Dodge Charger east on Route 120 at Crystal Lake Road.

Witnesses reported that the traffic light had turned yellow as the two vehicles entered the intersection, and Williams’ Civic turned in front of the unmarked police vehicle, Walsh said.

Both Williams and the driver of the police car were taken to Centegra Hospital – McHenry with injuries not considered life-threatening, Walsh said.

The police department investigated the crash because supervisors are permitted to investigate such incidents involving officers, Walsh said.

The crash temporarily blocked Crystal Lake Road at Main Street.

A McHenry police detective was involved in a two-vehicle crash Monday at Route 120 and Crystal Lake Road in McHenry.McHenry police block Crystal Lake Road at Main Street after a police detective was involved in a two-vehicle crash Monday at the intersection of Route 120 and Crystal Lake Road in McHenry.


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39-year-old Hanover Park man convicted in Woodstock armed robberyBrian Odell, of the 4700 block of Zeppelin Drive, Hanover Park

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:28:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A Hanover Park man accused of entering a Woodstock home for an alleged drug deal, beating the people inside and threatening them with a gun was found guilty Monday of armed violence, among other charges.

Jurors found 39-year-old Brian Odell not guilty of charges that accused him directly of having a gun – unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and being an armed habitual criminal.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather announced the verdict after nearly four hours of deliberation. Odell was escorted back to the McHenry County Jail, where he’ll remain until his sentencing March 30. He could spend between six and 30 years in prison for being convicted of armed violence and armed robbery. He also was found guilty of unlawful restraint and mob action.

Odell, of the 4700 block of Zeppelin Drive, Hanover Park, was arrested June 29 at his residence by members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. Investigators identified Odell as one of the suspects in an armed robbery that took place the day before at a home in the 200 block of Throop Street in Woodstock.

He also was believed to have led police on a chase through McHenry and DeKalb counties, dropping evidence – including a stolen wallet and a blood-stained T-shirt – along the way, prosecutors Randi Freese and Rita Gara said in their closing statements. Investigators never found the gun they believe was used during the robbery.

“I love that he keeps calling it a scuffle,” Freese said in court while holding up photographs of the robbery’s aftermath. “What part of these pictures makes you believe that’s a scuffle?”

The situation on June 28 centered around an alleged drug deal that was supposed to take place at the Throop Street home.

When the “dealer” and his three friends arrived, however, they were attacked by Odell and another man, prosecutors said.

During the attack, a woman was locked in the bathroom and a man broke his hand.

Odell’s alleged accomplice was referred to only by first name throughout the trial, and Odell claimed not to know his last name.

Victims who called 911 told the operator that someone was holding a gun to their friend’s head, but defense attorney Hank Sugden denied that Odell had a weapon.

Based on two previous felony convictions, including one handed down 20 years ago for murder, Odell is barred from having a firearm.

“The bottom line is it’s a fight,” Sugden told jurors. “It’s simply a fight.”

That fight could be attributed to the photographs prosecutors showed of smeared blood throughout house, and the splatters on a white T-shirt submitted as evidence, Sugden said. He called the blood “not any worse than you’d see in a bar fight in town.”

Sugden also read aloud a letter written by Odell, which said he had been “trying to improve his life” and prosecutors were trying to “smoke screen” the jury.

But after days of hearing victims’ testimonies and reviewing evidence that suggested a violent altercation had taken place, jurors agreed that Odell was at least partially responsible for the June 28 robbery and the injuries others had suffered as a result.

“Odell ran into that house, jumped into that Cadillac and tore out of town,” Gara told jurors.

Brian Odell, of the 4700 block of Zeppelin Drive, Hanover Park


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McHenry County's armored vehicle used for safety of officers, publicPolice gather equipment from the McHenry County's mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle. Heavy police presence closed down the 2000 block of Grandview Drive for several hours as officials assessed an incident in below-freezing temperatures on New Year’s Day. A woman was sent to the hospital after barricading herself in her Johnsburg home and threatening to shoot herself.Heavy police presence closed down the 2000 block of Grandview Drive for several hours as officials assessed an incident in below-freezing temperatures on New Year’s Day. The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched about 8:15 a.m. for a wellness check at a home, Sheriff's Deputy Sandra Rogers said.McHenry County's mine-resistant ambush-protected military vehicle maneuvers down Sunset Drive in Holiday Hills in 2014.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:27:00 GMT

JOHNSBURG – The county’s mine-resistant ambush-protected military vehicle raised eyebrows earlier this month when a woman who threatened to shoot herself was barricaded inside a Johnsburg home, eliciting a response from the area’s SWAT team. The MRAP has been used fewer than 10 times in the past year, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said. Seeing the county’s MRAP vehicle parked nearby usually means SWAT officers are responding to a call where a weapon might be present, or officers need the vehicle space to evacuate the area, Rogers said. “It’s not just for us, but it keeps the public safe, as well, because it has enough room in the back where we can get other people out,” Rogers said. The county’s MRAP is only one item on a long list of surplus acquired by police departments through a federal program. On Jan. 1, the county’s multijurisdictional SWAT team responded to the 2000 block of Grandview Drive, where a woman had threatened to shoot herself. Traffic through the area was shut down for several hours while police navigated the situation in below-freezing temperatures. Although officers never found a gun, a SWAT response, including use of the MRAP vehicle, is appropriate when responding to a threat with a weapon, Rogers said. “We also needed other people out there because it was just so cold,” Rogers said. “We had to switch people off in short intervals of time.” Departments prefer to bring out the MRAP sooner rather than later, but not until they’ve considered alternative solutions, including whether a person might be more responsive to negotiation tactics. Despite the intimidation of a military vehicle and a team of armed officers, a large police turnout usually is enough to coax a potentially armed or suicidal person out of a home, Rogers said. “Seeing that type of equipment – generally we’ve had the response that people just give up,” Rogers said. “They come out.” Officers typically wouldn’t roll out the vehicle for a suicidal person unless they have reason to believe that the person has a weapon, Rogers said. “Unfortunately, in this day and age – with officers being killed by responding to such calls – we would take it very seriously,” Rogers said. The threat of someone opening fire at officers was realized Oct. 16, 2014, when sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic dispute at a home along Northeast Shore Drive in Holiday Hills. As officers approached, a gunman shot and wounded two deputies. Officers used the MRAP vehicle that day to evacuate people in the neighborhood. They also used the vehicle in June 2017 when responding to an armed robbery at a Marengo pharmacy shortly after a major explosion damaged dozens of homes, which led officers on a three-hour manhunt. Two people ultimately were arrested in connection with the robbery, and they immediately were taken to the hospital to make sure they didn’t overdose on stolen drugs. In the case of potentially suicidal people, the situation typically is transformed from a police matter to one of mental health once the person surrenders, Rogers said. From there, he or she is taken to a nearby hospital and assessed by medical staff. “As much as we want to get the crime stuff resolved, their health and well-being is a priority,” Rogers said. Police gather equipment from the McHenry County's mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle. Heavy police presence close[...]


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Bill Cosby jokes he 'used to be' comedian in 1st show since 2015Bill Cosby plays the drums Monday at the LaRose Jazz Club in Philadelphia as his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, and 11-year-old drummer Mekhi Boone look on. It was his first public performance since his last tour ended amid protests in May 2015. Cosby has denied allegations from about 60 women that he drugged and molested them over five decades. He faces an April retrial in the only case to lead to criminal charges.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:27:00 GMT

PHILADELPHIA – Bill Cosby performed in public for the first time since a sex abuse scandal embroiled him in 2015, joking that he “used to be a comedian” and playing with a jazz band in his hometown as a retrial looms in his criminal sexual assault case. The 80-year-old entertainer took the stage for about an hour Monday night at a Philadelphia jazz club for his first show since May 2015. Before a friendly crowd, he told stories, honored old friends and finished by leading the band in a set, first using his mouth to scat in place of a missing horn section and then taking a turn at the drums. Cosby, handing the drumsticks off to the bass player’s 11-year-old son, asked if the boy knew who he was and then told him. “I used to be a comedian,” Cosby deadpanned. Cosby reminisced about his childhood, telling the crowd about how when he was 4 he grilled a relative about the impending birth of his brother. He mimicked his Uncle William, who took a swig from a cocktail before answering every question – including whether a stork was really delivering the baby to his parents. Afterward, Cosby nearly dropped a glass jar he was using as a prop, prompting a “Whoa!” from the crowd. Cosby, who’s legally blind, seized on the moment. “Let me tell you something about people talking to blind people, you sighted people,” Cosby said. “If you see a blind person walking into a pole or something, if you speak perfect English, there’s a word called ‘Stop!’ Not ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!’ “You laugh when blind people walk into things,” he continued. “And guess what: Blind people laugh when sighted people fall down!” Cosby arrived at the jazz club on the arm of his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt. He wore a gray hoodie bearing the phrase “Hello Friend,” something his late son, Ennis Cosby, often would say. He posed for photos with friends, including a couple he honored at the start of his set. They all grew up in the same public housing complex. The crowd applauded and laughed along with Cosby’s jokes, a far cry from how his last performances went. His last comedy tour ended amid protests as about 60 women were coming forward to accuse him of drugging and molesting them over five decades, something he has denied. Cosby is scheduled for an April 2 retrial on charges he drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on bail. His first trial ended with a hung jury last year. Jury selection for his retrial will start March 29. Cosby’s spokesman notified reporters of the comedy performance about two hours before he was to take the stage at the LaRose Jazz Club. The show was part of a program honoring jazz musician Tony Williams. Outside the jazz club there was one protester, a woman who frequently hounded Cosby at his trial last year. She played Helen Reddy’s song “I Am Woman” on a loop and held up a sign that said, “Perseverance to all survivors.” The jazz club performance is Cosby’s latest step back into the spotlight he’s mostly shied from since his December 2015 arrest. Two weeks ago, Cosby invited reporters to tag along as he ate dinner with old friends at a Philadelphia restaurant. Over the weekend, Cosby’s social media accounts featured photos of him visiting a barber and a cafe in the area and showing support for the Philadelphia Eagles, who won Sunday’s N[...]


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President Donald Trump to face mixed welcome at elite Davos gatheringFollowed by a TV team and assistants, Klaus Schwab (center) – founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum – walks through the meeting's conference center Sunday in Davos, Switzerland. The meeting brings together entrepreneurs, scientists, chief executives and political leaders from Tuesday through Friday.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:25:00 GMT

DAVOS, Switzerland – In Davos this week, participants can experience “a day in the life of a refugee.” Or hear about ways to uphold the Paris climate accord and promote free trade. Or rub elbows with any number of leaders of African countries. Enter Donald Trump. The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is meant – pretentiously perhaps – to be a place for the world’s decision-makers to put their power to good use. The theme this year is “Creating a Shared Future in Fractured World,” an ambition not likely to turn up on the U.S. president’s Twitter feed. Instead, Trump will bring his zero-sum message of “America First,” and will speak last among the parade of world leaders – from places such as India, France and Canada – who are gathering from Tuesday to Friday in the Swiss snows. As with most things Trump, there are stark contrasts between how attendees view his visit. Some are happy and hope for dialogue. Others unabashedly say they wish he would stay away and accuse him of a lack of compassion and vision for the world that are out of place in Davos. “I find it quite sad he’s coming to the WEF, but I imagine nothing can be done about it,” said Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, a longtime disciple of the Dalai Lama. The U.S. government shutdown cast some doubt on whether Trump might actually make the trip later in the week – the wider U.S. delegation’s departure on Monday was delayed due to the shutdown. While Trump’s visit may seem incongruous or unwelcome in Davos, he will be sticking to one key aspect of the WEF’s ambition in starting the annual forum 47 years ago: Business. An array of Cabinet officials is due to tag along, suggesting the U.S. is preparing a big economic and diplomatic push. Some have suggested it’s ironic that Trump, a self-styled populist despite his penchant for the penthouse, is attending the elite event. Others speculated he could have felt a need to regain the Davos spotlight for the United States a year after Chinese President Xi Jinping stole the show by casting China as a champion of free trade and stability. An administration official said Trump is expected to tout the booming U.S. economy and measures such as his recent tax overhaul, while again criticizing trade practices that he sees as unfair toward the U.S. The official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans, said Trump made the decision to go because he thinks he has a positive economic message. With Wall Street surging, Trump has some cheerleaders on the economic front, even if they hope he’ll be more accommodating. “I think it’s really good that he’s going,” said Bill Thomas, chairman of business services KPMG International. “The American economy is dependent on global engagement, and I think he’s in Davos because he knows that.” Some wonder whether Trump can win over the Davos set, or whether they might succeed in turning his ear – and give him a chance to reboot his administration’s image abroad. “Corporate America, in terms of economic policies, is very pleased with the way the administration is going,” said Andy Baldwin, a managing partner for financial services firm EY. But he acknowledged that Trump controversies elsewhere had “overshadowed some of the policies.” The hosts also were upbeat. “It’s good to have the president here, if the snow conditions and the situation in Washing[...]


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Fighting rages amid Turkish push in Kurdish enclave in SyriaAP photo Turkish army tanks enter Afrin, an enclave in northern Syria controlled by U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters Monday in Hassa, Hatay, Turkey.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:24:00 GMT

HASSA, Turkey – Intense fighting flared Monday as Turkish troops and their allies advanced on a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria, the third day of Ankara’s offensive to oust a U.S.-allied Kurdish militia from the area, according to the militia and a war monitoring group. Skirmishes between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters also broke out farther east in Syria, threatening to widen the scope of the new front in the Syrian war that pits Turkey against Washington’s main ally in the region. The Turkish ground and air offensive on Afrin, codenamed “Operation Olive Branch,” began Saturday, raising tensions in the already-complicated Syrian conflict and threatening to further strain ties between Turkey and the U.S., both NATO allies. Turkey said it aims to create a 20-mile-deep “secure zone” in Afrin, the Kurdish-controlled enclave on its border. The Turkish military announced late Monday its first fatality to the operation. It said a soldier was killed in cross-border raid. The U.N. Security Council was scheduled to convene later Monday to discuss the situation. A NATO statement said it has contacted Turkey over the offensive. NATO said Turkey has suffered from terrorism and has the right to self-defense but urged Ankara to do so in a “proportionate and measured way.” NATO also said it has no presence in Syria but that as members of the anti-Islamic State coalition, “our focus is on the defeat” of the extremists. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Turkey has “legitimate security concerns” about Syria. Speaking to reporters traveling with him Sunday to Indonesia, he said diplomats are working on a solution to Turkey’s confrontation with the Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the People’s Defense Units or YPG, who have been the key U.S. military ally in battling the Islamic State in Syria. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group because of its ties to its own Kurdish insurgency. Mattis said Ankara gave the U.S. military advance notice of its Afrin offensive. The U.S. has offered direct military and logistical support to a Kurdish-led group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces that spearheaded the fight against IS in Syria. With the near total defeat of IS in both Syria and Iraq, the U.S. said it would create a 30,000-strong border force of existing Kurdish and Arab SDF members to ensure there would be no IS comeback. That announcement has outraged Turkey, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has tried to walk back the U.S. position, saying it was portrayed incorrectly. The U.S. focus in recent years has been on eastern Syria. The area west of the Euphrates River, including Afrin, has been more of a problem for the U.S. because Turkey had said it would not accept a Kurdish military presence there. The U.S. is discussing with Turkey and others the possibility of setting up a security zone on the Syria border to address Turkey’s concerns about a Kurdish enclave there, Tillerson said while traveling in Europe on Monday. Such a zone could help stabilize the situation and meet Turkey’s legitimate concerns over security, he said. The U.S. recognizes Turkey’s “legitimate right” to defend itself from terrorists, he said, but added that Washington wants Turkey to try to be precise in its Afrin operation and to limit it by showing restraint. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to expand the operation, threatening to push farther east to the town of Manbi[...]


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Rohingya Muslim refugee return to Myanmar likely delayedAP file photo Rohingya children and refugees raise their hands and shout that they won't go back to Myanmar during a demonstration Monday at Kutupalong near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:24:00 GMT

DHAKA, Bangladesh – The gradual repatriation of more than 680,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees back to Myanmar from Bangladesh, scheduled to begin Tuesday, has been delayed amid widespread fears that they are being forced to return, Bangladesh said Monday. There was no immediate confirmation from Myanmar. The refugees began pouring across the border into Bangladesh in August, fleeing waves of attacks by Myanmar security forces and Buddhist mobs. Although the two countries have signed an agreement to begin sending people home in “safety, security and dignity,” the process has been chaotic and opaque, leaving international aid workers and many Rohingya afraid they would be coerced into going back to villages that they fled only months ago. Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s refugee and repatriation commissioner, said a number of issues remain unresolved. “The main thing is that the process has to be voluntary,” said Kalam, adding that paperwork for returning refugees had not yet been finalized and transit camps had yet to be built in Bangladesh. It immediately was not clear when the process would start. Myanmar officials could not be reached for comment. “If they send us back forcefully, we will not go,” Sayed Noor, who fled his village in Myanmar in August, said over the weekend, adding that Myanmar authorities “have to give us our rights and give us justice.” “They will have to return all our wealth that they have looted and hold people accountable. They will have to compensate us. We came here because we are fighting for those things,” he said. “If we don’t get all of this, then what was the point of coming here?” Eventually, all the Rohingya who have fled Myanmar since August were to leave Bangladesh, according to the agreement signed late last year. Over the weekend, the U.N.’s migration agency increased the total estimate of those refugees to 688,000. David Mathieson, a longtime human rights researcher who has spent years working on Rohingya issues, heaped scorn on the agreement ahead of the latest announcement. “It’s a fantasyland, make-believe world that both governments are in,” he said in an interview in Yangon, Myanmar’s main city, noting that security forces there had just forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya across the border. “Now you’re expecting them to come back, as if they’re in a conga line of joy after what you did to them?” The Rohingya Muslims have long been treated as outsiders in largely Buddhist Myanmar, derided as “Bengalis” who entered illegally from Bangladesh, even though generations of Rohingya have lived in Myanmar. Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless. They are denied freedom of movement and other basic rights. Many of the people who fled earlier violence and moved into displacement camps inside Myanmar have been unable to leave those settlements for years. Most Rohingya lived in poverty in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, near the Bangladesh border. Marked by their religion and their language – most Rohingya speak a dialect of Bengali, while most of their neighbors speak Rakhine – they are easy to target. The recent surge of violence erupted after an underground insurgent group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, attacked at least 30 security outposts in Myanmar in late August. The military and Buddhist mobs then launched retaliatory attacks on Rohingya across[...]


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Pope Francis apologizes to abuse victims, but defends Chilean bishopAP photo Osornos Bishop Juan Barros smiles as he leaves the altar after Mass was celebrated by Pope Francis on Lobito Beach Thursday in Iquique, Chile.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:24:00 GMT

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE – Pope Francis apologized for insisting that victims of pedophile priests show “proof” to be believed, saying he realized it was a “slap in the face” to victims that he never intended. But he doubled down on defending a Chilean bishop accused by victims of covering up for the country’s most notorious pedophile priest, and he repeated that anyone who makes such accusations without providing evidence is guilty of slander. Francis issued the partial mea culpa in an airborne press conference late Sunday as he returned home from Chile and Peru, where the clergy abuse scandal and his own comments about it plunged the Chilean church into renewed crisis and revived questions about whether Francis “gets it” about abuse. Francis insisted that to date no one had provided him with evidence that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in keeping quiet about the perversions of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, the charismatic Chilean priest who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for molesting and fondling minors in his Santiago parish. Flying home from the most contested trip of his papacy, Francis said Barros would remain bishop of Osorno, Chile as long as there’s no evidence implicating him in the cover-up. “I can’t condemn him because I don’t have evidence,” Francis said. “But I’m also convinced that he’s innocent.” Karadima was removed from ministry and sentenced by the Vatican in 2011 to a lifetime of penance and prayer based on the testimony of his victims, who said they were all molested by him in the swank parish he headed in the El Bosque area of Santiago. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking. The victims have said for years that Barros, one of Karadima’s proteges, witnessed the abuse and did nothing to stop it. Barros denies the accusations. “The best thing is for those who believe this to bring the evidence forward,” Francis said. “In this moment I don’t think it’s this way, because I don’t have it, but I have an open heart to receive them.” Juan Carlos Cruz, the most vocal of the accusers against Karadima and Barros, responded with a statement to The Associated Press: “If he wanted evidence, why didn’t he reach out to us when we were willing to reaffirm the testimony that not only us, but so many witnesses, have been providing for more than 15 years?” he said. Francis, though, repeated again that anyone who makes an accusation without providing evidence is guilty of slander. “Someone who accuses insistently without evidence, this is calumny,” he said. “If I say ‘you stole something, you stole something,’ I’m slandering you because I don’t have evidence.” He acknowledged that he misspoke when he said he needed to see “proof” to believe the accusations, saying it was a legal term that he didn’t intend. He corrected himself and used the term “evidence,” instead, which he said could include testimony. “Here I have to apologize because the word ‘proof’ hurt them. It hurt a lot of abused people,” he said. “I know how much they suffer. And to hear that the pope told them to their face that they need to bring a letter with proof? It’s a slap in the face.” [...]


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President Donald Trump hits solar panels, washing machines with tariffsFILE- This April 20, 2011, file photo shows some of the 30,000 solar panels that make up the Public Service Company of New Mexico's new 2-megawatt photovoltaic array in Albuquerque, N.M. Some in the U.S. solar-power industry are hoping a decision this week by President Donald Trump doesn’t bring on an eclipse. Companies that install solar-power systems for homeowners and utilities are bracing for Trump’s call on whether to slap tariffs on imported panels. The solar business in the U.S. has boomed in recent years, driven by falling prices for panels, thanks in part to cheap imports. That has made solar power more competitive with electricity generated from coal and natural gas. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan,File)

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:17:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Monday approved tariffs on imported solar-energy components and large washing machines in a bid to help U.S. manufacturers. The president's decision followed recommendations for tariffs by the U.S. International Trade Commission. "The president's action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses in this regard," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement announcing the decision. Most imported solar modules will face an immediate tariff of 30 percent, with the rate declining before phasing out after four years. For large residential washing machines, tariffs will start at up to 50 percent and phase out after three years. The U.S. solar industry was split over the trade barriers. The tariffs were sought last year by Suniva Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in April, and the U.S. subsidiary of Germany's SolarWorld. They said that a nearly 500 percent increase in imported solar panels over five years led to a ruinous price collapse. Nearly 30 U.S. solar-manufacturing facilities had closed in the past five years, they said, as China plotted to flood the global market with cheap products to weaken U.S. manufacturing. Suniva spokesman Mark Paustenbach called tariffs "a step forward for this high-tech solar-manufacturing industry we pioneered right here in America." However, solar installers and manufacturers of other equipment used to run solar-power systems opposed tariffs, which they said will raise their prices and hurt demand for the renewable energy. The Solar Energy Industries Association, which represents installation companies, said billions of dollars of solar investment will be delayed or canceled, leading to the loss of 23,000 jobs this year. Mark Bortman, founder of Exact Solar in Philadelphia, said the prospect of tariffs — since the trade commission recommended them in October — had already caused him to delay hiring and expansion plans. "Solar is really just starting to take off because it is truly a win-win-win situation" for consumers, workers and the environment, he said. "Tariffs would really be shooting ourselves in the foot." The case for tariffs on washing machines was pushed by Benton Harbor, Michigan-based Whirlpool Corp. The company's chairman, Jeff Fettig, said tariffs on imported machines would create new manufacturing jobs in Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee. "This is a victory for American workers and consumers alike," Fettig said. "By enforcing our existing trade laws, President Trump has ensured American workers will compete on a level playing field with their foreign counterparts." But Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said Republicans need to understand that tariffs are a tax on consumers. "Moms and dads shopping on a budget for a new washing machine will pay for this — not big companies," Sasse said in a statement. Suniva, SolarWorld and Whirlpool were helped by a 1974 trade law that lets companies seek trade protection if they can show damage from a rise in imports. Up to certain levels, imports of solar cells will be exempt from the tariff, while the first 1.2 million imported large washing machines will get a lowe[...]


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Back to work: Government shutdown ends after Dems relentAP photo Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks back to his office on Capitol Hill on Monday in Washington.AP photo A Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour boat passes by the Statue of Liberty on Monday after dropping passengers off there.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:16:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed a bill reopening the government late Monday, ending a 69-hour display of partisan dysfunction after Democrats reluctantly voted to temporarily pay for resumed operations. They relented in return for Republican assurances that the Senate will soon take up the plight of young immigrant “dreamers” and other contentious issues. The vote set the stage for hundreds of thousands of federal workers to return on Tuesday, cutting short what could have become a messy and costly impasse. The House approved the measure shortly thereafter, and President Donald Trump later signed it behind closed doors at the White House. But by relenting, the Democrats prompted a backlash from immigration activists and liberal base supporters who wanted them to fight longer and harder for legislation to protect from deportation the 700,000 or so younger immigrants who were brought to the country as children and now are here illegally. Democrats climbed onboard after two days of negotiations that ended with new assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Senate would consider immigration proposals in the coming weeks. But there were deep divides in the Democratic caucus over strategy, as red-state lawmakers fighting for their survival broke with progressives looking to satisfy liberals’ and immigrants’ demands. Under the agreement, Democrats provided enough votes to pass the stopgap spending measure keeping the government open until Feb. 8. In return, McConnell agreed to resume negotiations over the future of the dreamers, border security, military spending and other budget debates. If those talks don’t yield a deal in the next three weeks, the Republican promised to allow the Senate to debate an immigration proposal – even if it’s one crafted by a bipartisan group and does not have the backing of the leadership and the White House, lawmakers said. McConnell had previously said he would bring a deal to a vote only if President Donald Trump supported it. Sixty votes were needed to end the Democrats’ filibuster, and the party’s senators provided 33 of the 81 the measure got. Eighteen senators, including members of both parties, were opposed. Hours later the Senate passed the final bill by the same 81-18 vote, sending it to the House, which quickly voted its approval and sent the measure on to President Donald Trump. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders predicted that operations would return to normal by Tuesday morning. The plan is far from what many activists and Democrats hoped when they decided to use the budget deadline as leverage. It doesn’t tie the immigration vote to another piece of legislation, a tactic often used to build momentum. It also doesn’t address support for an immigration plan in the House, where opposition to extending the protections for the dreamers is far stronger. The short-term spending measure means both sides may wind up in a shutdown stalemate again in three 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 the younger immigrants. The White House downplayed McConnell’s commitment, and said Democrats caved under pressure. “They blinked,” principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah told CNN. In a state[...]


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Vice President Mike Pence says U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem by end of 2019U.S. Vice President Mike Pence walks with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. Pence is receiving a warm welcome in Israel, which has praised the American decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The decision has infuriated the Palestinians and upset America’s Arab allies as well. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:15:00 GMT

JERUSALEM – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told Israeli lawmakers Monday that the U.S. would put plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem on a fast track, drawing angry denunciations from Arabs who were forcibly removed from the hall during his speech before Israel's parliament. The Trump administration's plan to accelerate the move of the embassy, announced in the first address of a sitting American vice president to the Knesset, marked the highlight of Pence's visit celebrating President Donald Trump's decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "Jerusalem is Israel's capital – and, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to begin initial preparations to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Pence told the lawmakers, vowing that the "United States Embassy will open before the end of next year." Pence's speech drew protests from the Palestinians, with chief negotiator Saeb Erekat saying it "has proven that the U.S. administration is part of the problem rather than the solution." Shortly after Pence began speaking, several Arab lawmakers voiced their displeasure by raising signs that said, "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine," and heckling the vice president. They were forcibly removed from the plenum. Despite the pandemonium, Pence expressed hope in an interview with The Associated Press after the speech that the Palestinians would re-enter negotiations. "Our message to President (Mahmoud) Abbas and the Palestinian Authority is: The door's open. The door's open. President Trump is absolutely committed to doing everything the United States can to achieve a peace agreement that brings an end to decades of conflict." The embassy is to be opened in an existing U.S. facility that will be "retrofitted" to meet safety and security requirements, Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein told reporters in Washington. He said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had yet to sign off on the safety plan for the new facility but would do so in coming weeks. The most likely location is in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, in a modern building that currently handles U.S. consular affairs like issuing passports, birth certificates and travel visas, said a U.S. official, who wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The U.S. consul-general works out of another Jerusalem facility that handles political affairs and diplomatic functions. The retrofitted building had been originally envisioned as an interim plan that would allow Trump to quickly fulfill his vow to move the embassy. Yet it was unclear after Pence's speech whether Trump still intended to break ground later on a new embassy elsewhere in Jerusalem or to use the retrofitted one permanently. "We expect that to be the embassy," Goldstein said of the facility that will open next year. "We do not have a plan at current to build a new embassy." Pence told the AP the administration was "exploring a range of options" on where to locate the embassy. The vice president was preceded on the Knesset dais by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who lavished his guest with praise and gratitude. It was part of an exceptionally warm welcome for Pence in Israel, which has been overjoyed by Trump's pivot on Jerusalem. But the move has infuriated the Palestinians and upset America's Arab allies as well. [...]


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Senate Democrats relent, vote to end shutdown; House to followSen. 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 22:24:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Congress sped toward reopening the government Monday as Democrats reluctantly voted to temporarily pay for resumed operations, relenting in a fight over immigration in return for assurances from Republican leaders that the Senate will soon take up the plight of young "dreamers" and other contentious issues. The vote set the stage for hundreds of thousands of federal workers to return on Tuesday, cutting short what could have become a messy and costly impasse. The House was expected to vote later in the day. But by relenting, the Democrats prompted a backlash from immigration activists and liberal base supporters who wanted them to fight longer and harder for legislation to protect from deportation the 700,0090 or so younger immigrants who were brought to the country as children and now are here illegally. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell's commitment to quickly tackle the issue of the "dreamers" was contingent on Democrats providing enough votes now for a stopgap spending funding measure lasting a little less than three weeks. Sixty votes were needed to end the Democrats' filibuster, and the party's senators provided 33 of the 81 the measure got. Eighteen senators, including members of both parties, were opposed. Hours later the Senate approved the final bill by the same 81-18 vote, sending it to the House and President Donald Trump for expected approval so the government can reopen. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders predicted that operations would return to normal by Tuesday morning. Democrats climbed onboard after two days of negotiations that ended with new reassurances from Senate Majority Leader McConnell that the Senate would consider immigration proposals in the coming weeks. But there were deep divides in the Democratic caucus over strategy, as red-state lawmakers fighting for their survival broke with progressive looking satisfy liberals' and immigrants' demands, 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 the younger immigrants. However, the agreement to reopen the government provided no certainty for the "dreamers," and the short-term stopgap sets up another potential crisis point on Feb. 8. The White House downplayed McConnell's commitment, and said Democrats caved under pressure. "They blinked," principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah told CNN. In a statement, Trump said he's open to immigration deal only if it is "good for our country." Immigration activists and other groups harshly criticized the deal reached by the Democratic leadership. Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream, said the members of the group are "outraged." She added that senators who voted Monday in favor of the deal "are not resisting Trump, they are enablers." Other groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union expressed disappointment and shared similar criticism. 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 B[...]


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Schumer's 'cave'? Shutdown deal puts spotlight on senate's minority leaderSenate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., arrives at the Capitol at the start of the third day of the government shutdown, in Washington, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. Schumer, arguably the most powerful Democrat in Washington, is trying to keep his party together to force a spending bill that would include protections for young immigrants. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 20:29:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Republicans tried to make Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer the face of the government shutdown. Now, he's becoming the face of the Democratic retreat. For two days, Schumer, perhaps the most powerful Democrat in Washington, succeeded in keeping his party unified in a bid to use the government funding fight to push for protections for some 700,000 young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. But as the shutdown moved into its third day, the New York Democrat and his party buckled as several Democrats backed a deal to end the shutdown in exchange for a Republican pledge to address the immigration debate in the near future. Schumer quickly became a punching bag for the right and left. "It's official: Chuck Schumer is the worst negotiator in Washington — even worse than Trump," said Murshed Zaheed, political director for the liberal group CREDO. "Schumer caved," tweeted former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ally to President Donald Trump. He added, "Lessons learned — Schumer burned." Schumer had little margin for error in this first major test of his muscle and maneuvering as leader. The pragmatist was balancing the demands of a liberal base eager for a fight with the president and the political realities of red-state senators anxious about their re-election prospects this fall. As liberals embraced the fight, some vulnerable senators met with Schumer on Sunday morning and urged a compromise to end the shutdown. "The question is, how do we get out of here in a way that reflects what the majority of the body wants to do," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who is among the Democrats on the ballot in November. She added: "It is critically important that we get this done today." The Senate voted Monday to advance a bill that would extend government funding through Feb. 8. In a bid to win over a few Democratic holdouts, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also pledged to take up legislation on immigration and other top Democratic priorities if they weren't already addressed by the time that spending bill would expire. McConnell's pledge was enough to sway the handful of Democrats he needed to pass the spending bill. Democratic aides said that while Schumer, who spent the weekend calling members on his flip phone, initially appeared to be holding the party together, the desire to end the shutdown won out. Liberal leaders across the country hosted a conference call before Monday's vote to encourage Schumer and other Democrats to oppose any deal that excludes protections for the young immigrants. "To anyone considering such a move, let me be clear: Promises won't protect anyone from deportation," said Greisa Martinez Rosas, a so-called "Dreamer" and the advocacy director for the liberal group United We Dream. "Delay means deportation for us." Despite controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, Republicans pinned the blame for the shutdown squarely on Schumer, accusing him of being captive to liberals and advocacy groups which opposed any spending package that didn't result in a solution for the young immigrants. The White House and GOP officials branded the funding gap the "Schumer Shutdown," spreading the phrase as a hashtag on social media.[...]


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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[...]


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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,[...]


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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. [...]


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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[...]


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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. [...]


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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. [...]


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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 h[...]


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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 Satu[...]


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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 huma[...]


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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 t[...]


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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 co[...]


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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 [...]


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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. [...]


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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 documen[...]


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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 earli[...]


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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[...]


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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[...]


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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 f[...]



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 [...]


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